*Original article in Spanish
Alex Fernando Rojas, Prensa Libre (September 19, 2012)
In a controversial move to improve the training of teachers in Guatemala, the government there has eliminated the add-on program that allows high school graduates to become teachers after an additional year of study. Despite violent student protests across the city over the last several months, the Ministry of Education, with the backing of President Otto Perez Molina, ratified the new regulation to take effect in 2013, when the new school year starts in January. With this change (targeted at teachers at the primary level), individuals who wish to become teachers will need to attend university for at least three years.
The Ministry of Education, led by Cynthia del Águila, remarked that this law is intended to improve the state of education in Guatemala and to benefit Guatemalan children and adolescents. President Pérez Molina added that before this law, there were two unsuccessful attempts to boost the quality of education in the country. This move to focus on teacher education has been controversial because teaching was long thought of as an affordable profession, leading some students to protest the increased time and financial investment that would be needed to obtain a teaching degree.
According to del Águila, the government will focus the subsequent school year on coverage for pre-primary levels of education as well as on initial training for primary teachers. María Ester Ortega, an expert in education interviewed by Prensa Libre, believes that the state of education in Guatemala can improve but only with more scrutiny of all educational institutions; this, she states, includes preparation, training, and follow-up with teachers to ensure that they have followed the mandates of the national curriculum.
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