Although in theory the Guatemalan government has made education compulsory and public schools do exist, the reality of school access is a harsh one for many indigenous children and families. Shockingly, out of every 100 children in Guatemala, 55 will complete 6th grade and only 18 will complete High School (source: Cooperative for Education).
Many Elementary Schools in the region MT operates in are public, but they fill up quickly and tend to be underfunded and poorly administered. If parents wish to provide their children with a higher quality education, they must send them to private school--financially impossible for many families to do on their own. Even public schools present a significant financial burden, as parents are compelled to pay an annual registration fee, school supplies, up to 3 uniforms, shoes, etc. Many schools in Guatemala also require students to participate in extracurricular activities, such as band or parades, and if students are unable to pay for these activities, their grades are negatively impacted.
Access to public Junior High Schools is even more limited and most children are left with no choice but private schools with monthly fees. In addition, students entering 7th grade must complete 2 additional courses, Typing/Keyboarding and Computer Class, both of which have their own associated costs. As a result, only 38% of Guatemalan children enroll in Junior High School--this is the worst record in Latin America, which has an average enrollment rate of 69% (source: Cooperative for Education)
In Guatemala, High School is referred to as diversificado, or diversified, because students can obtain a range of diplomas. Students can choose between 2- and 3-year programs, depending on the type of diploma they seek. Common programs include Computer Studies, Bilingual Secretary, and Accounting among others. The program the student chooses at the High School level sets them on a career track that can be extended into their University studies if they choose to pursue them.
All of MT’s High School students pay tuition and monthly fees, as well as costs for up to 4 uniforms. One uniform is required for a practica, or internship, an experience that can be very expensive. Travel and graduation costs also represent an insurmountable financial burden for many families living in the region.
University programs generally range from 5 to 7 years in duration, depending on the type of degree the student is seeking.
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