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Guatemala

Overview

La República de Guatemala (Republic of Guatemala) is located in Central America and is bordered by Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, the North Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Honduras. Spanish is the official language, but is not necessarily the second language for the people who speak one of the 21 Mayan dialects. The population is 12,728,111 and the literacy rate for adults is 69.1%, which is one of the lowest in Central America, while the literacy rate of youth is 82.2%.

Evidence of human settlement in Guatemala can be traced as far back as 18,000 BC. The Mayan civilization developed in the year 1 AD and, due to prolonged droughts and the brutal treatment by the Spanish conquistadors, lasted until the 16th century.

The first Spanish expedition to the area was in 1518. During the colonial era, the area was a Captaincy General of Spain, and included present day Guatemala, the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica. In 1821, the Captaincy declared its independence from Spain, and then became part of the Mexican empire. Soon after, the Guatemalan provinces formed the Federación de Estados Centroamericanos, and, in 1839, become the Republic of Guatemala. Guatemala suffered through civil wars from 1954 until Peace Accords were signed in 1996.

Education

Education in Guatemala is free and compulsory from ages 7 to 14. Education is overseen by the country's Ministerio de Educación.

Primary and Secondary Education

Escuela primaria (Primary school) begins at age 7 and is 6 years long. No credential is awarded at the end of primary school. 63.3% of students complete primary school, and only 29% continue on to basic secondary. Basic secondary is 3 years and students are awarded a Diploma de Estudios upon successful completion of the program. Following basic secondary, students have the choice of continuing in ciclo diversicado (academic) or technical/vocational diversified secondary school. Ciclo diversicado is 2 years and students are awarded the Bachiller en Ciencias y Letras upon completion of studies. Technical secondary school is 3 years and students are awarded a Perito or a Secretaría.

Post-Secondary Education

The Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala is the only public university in the country. It was founded in 1676 and became an autonomous university in 1945. There are 9 private universities recognized by the Ministry of Education. Admission to university studies requires a Bachiller en Ciencias y Letras, a Perito, a Secretaría, or a Maestro de Educación Preprimaria/Primaria Urbana. Some universities also require the Prueba de Aptitud Académica (PAA) (Academic Aptitude Test) for admission.

First Cycle, Academic

The first level of university is 4-6 to six years and leads to the Título de Licenciado. The Universidad Francisco Marroquín awards a Baccalaureatus atrium/scienciae (Bachelor of Arts/Science) after a 4-year program, and some universities award the Baccalaureatus in scientiis/artibus (Bachelor of Science/Arts). These two baccalaureatus do not grant access to graduate studies in Guatemala.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Technical and vocational post-secondary programs are 2-3 years long and awarded the Técnicoor the Diplomado. These credentials do not grant access to further post-secondary education.

Professional studies are 4-6 years and require a Bachiller en Ciencias y Letras, a Perito, a Secretaría, or a Maestro de Educación Preprimaria/Primaria Urbana for admission. Students are awarded a Título Profesional en … upon completion of the program.

Second and Third Cycles

Graduate studies leading to the Magister, Maestro, or the Maestría are 1-3 years long and require a Título de Licenciado or a Título Profesional for admission. Doctoral studies are at least 2 years long and require a Magister, Maestro, or Maestría for admission. Upon successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctor.

Teacher Training

Pre-primary and primary school teachers are trained in 3-year programs at teacher training programs following Basic Secondary. Upon completion, students are awarded a Maestro de Educación Preprimaria or a Maestro de Educación Primaria Urbana. Secondary school teachers complete a 3-year program at universities leading to the Profesor de Enseñaza Media.


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