Alex Rojas, Prensa Libre (October 13, 2012)
As reported last month, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education ratified a new law as part of the government’s reform program, entitled Estrategia para una Educación de Calidad para la Niñez y la Juventud (“Strategies for Quality Education for Children and Adolescents”). This law requires that teachers have a university degree in order to become certified. Despite maintaining the support of higher educational institutions since 2009, the reform has now lost the support of one major university based in Guatemala City. The University of San Carlos, a large, state-run university with affordable tuition rates, has withdrawn its support for the government’s efforts. A representative of the university says that the institution is still unclear as to the admission standards for students and says that it does not have the structural facility or the human resources to implement a new degree program.
Meanwhile, groups advocating for the normal schools (those which train teachers) in rural areas also continue to protest the larger reform package, including what they view as the Ministry of Education’s disregard for a stronger bilingual program in high schools and culturally relevant pedagogical training for teachers. According to the protesters, the new law not only makes it financially unfeasible for many in rural and low-income areas to attend school, but the lack of a high school curriculum that attends to the linguistic and cultural needs of people living in smaller towns leaves many at a disadvantage. Protestors view this type of reform as one step closer to the privatization of schooling. The San Carlos University representative had this to say to the Ministry (translated): “[The Ministry] should listen to the sectors that are still dissatisfied. They are right, and no one has the absolute truth. Dialogue should be opened and the points that are not clear addressed.”
For more information:
A video from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (in Spanish):