Guatemala Education

Guatemala Education

The difference between school in the countryside and in the cities is great. The last decades of the civil war have also left their mark on the education system. Primary school is compulsory for 6 years from the children are 7 years. Although Spanish is the official language, since 1960 it has been emphasized that children should be able to receive initial education in their mother tongue. The high school lasts up to 5 years, divided into two steps. There is a high degree of privatization of education in Guatemala. At the upper secondary level, approx. 47% of pupils in private schools. In 2001, 85% of the children in primary school started, the corresponding figure for the relevant age group in high school was 28%. According to UNESCO estimates, approx. 30% of the adult population illiterate in 2001.

Guatemala Schooling

There is one state university in the country, the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, founded in 1676, and several private higher education institutions.

1944 Democracy – for the first time in the country’s history

General Jorge Ubico Castañeda was the last representative of the soldier generation from 1871 and in 1931 was elected president of the Liberal Party. He was overthrown by a public uprising in 1944, which also received support from the United States because Ubico used close relations with Nazi Germany. The so-called “October Revolution” printed elections in which reformist politician Juan José Arévalo was elected president. He initiated an economic and social reform process.

Arévalo’s reign was marked by political and economic opening. In 1945, women were given the right to vote – apart from the illiterates – and the same year the first farmer trade union emerged. As part of the reform process, Arévalo implemented a land reform that also affected the UFCO. The North American company had nationalized large areas of land that were uncultivated and which it had in reserve. The move was characterized by the US government as “a threat to US interests”. It was in the midst of the Cold War, and the United States now launched a fierce campaign against Arévalo and his successor Jacobo Arbenz’s democratically elected governments.

John Foster Dulles was the United States Secretary of State and at the same time shareholder and lawyer for the UFCO. He now put pressure on the Organization of American States (OAS) to condemn Jacobo Arbenz’s government reforms. His brother, Allen Dulles, was director of the CIAand former director of UFCO. He now organized an invasion of Guatemala from neighboring Honduras, “to bring down communism.” The North American-led bloody invasion brought Arbenz to a fall, and the UFCO immediately recovered its lands that would otherwise have been handed over to landless peasants. The new military dictatorship got North American shadow ministers on all posts. The country was thrown into a military dictatorship that stretched for over 35 years. The dictatorship held elections well enough in 1970, 1974, 1978 and 1982, but each time was characterized by extensive scams, only the extreme right wing had the opportunity to stand and the military candidates were favored.

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