School and Education in Guatemala


The schooling, which is regulated by a law from 1966, is highly centralized and very inefficient. Although compulsory school is compulsory and free, between 40 and 50% of children never start first grade. The number of rural poor is even higher. Only half of those who start going out sixth grade. In the countryside there are no schools and teachers, so about 90% of the rural population can neither read nor write. Despite a focus on literacy in the 1980s and 1990s, 45% of the adult population is estimated to be illiterate; the differences in schooling are large between city and country.

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In 1994, 17% of the state budget was spent on education, but the figure has since fallen to one of Latin America’s lowest. The political wave of violence, which extended until the mid-1990s, hit the education system hard. The death patrols murdered school teachers, students and university teachers, and thousands of teachers and students have moved abroad.

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The largest university is San Carlos in Guatemala City. There is also the Jesuit University Rafael Landívar and the private university Francisco Marroquín. Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango have branches at the University of San Carlos.

Guatemala Country Flag

Guatemala flag source:


The La Línea scandal led to the largest mass mobilizations in Guatemala since 1944. Pérez Molina and Baldetti had to go to prison. In the election campaign that followed it won the then unknown comedian Jimmy Morales with the slogan “neither villain nor corrupt”. However, as president, he has actively cut the wing CICIG, citing that this cooperation between the UN and Guatemala violates the country’s sovereignty.

Under Morales, the work of building a democratic rule of law, as the peace treaties suggested, has stopped. Justice and party politics remain infiltrated by corruption and drug traffic and gang crime is widespread. With the exception of a poverty reduction program (Bolsa Familiar) under Colom, the post-war presidents also failed to follow up on social and economic reform agreements.