Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

MCC and Guatemala Partner to Boost Secondary Education

November 22, 2021

By Emily Schultz, Policy Officer, Guatemala Threshold Program and John Wingle, Country Director, Guatemala

Photo Credit: Pronacom

Guatemalan students (above) with teacher Bayron Isaac Monzón Bautista (second from right), who received training as a result of MCC’s Guatemala Threshold Program.

For the past two decades, the Central American nation of Guatemala has experienced stable economic growth that has lifted the country’s economic status to that of an upper middle-income country. Unfortunately, high levels of economic inequality persist and more than half of the country’s population continues to live below the poverty line.
One of the key constraints preventing more Guatemalans from rising out of poverty is the country’s education system, which faces many challenges. Some 56,000 graduates of the 6th grade do not have a secondary school within 5 kilometers of their home and most secondary schools use the primary school’s space in the afternoon. Most concerning of all, the majority of secondary teachers do not have a solid mastery of the subjects they teach. This results in students not receiving an adequate education, failing grades, and high dropout rates.
With these challenges in mind, MCC partnered with the Government of Guatemala to revamp the country’s education system as part of the MCC-Guatemala Threshold Program. Despite not having received adequate training themselves, Guatemalan teachers show tremendous dedication to their students and want to improve their skills. The threshold program invested in training for 1,913 lower secondary teachers and principals by funding university level courses for teachers willing to attend classes for 8 hours on Saturdays for two years.
The Secondary School Teaching degree aims to improve teachers’ command of education fundamentals, focusing on mathematics, communications and language, natural sciences, and educational leadership and management. Pre-training and post-training diagnostic assessments of the teachers’ subject area knowledge showed a significant improvement as a result of the program. Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the first cohort of teacher-students graduated in August 2020, and Guatemalan children in classrooms throughout the country are benefiting from their improved teaching.

Photo Credit: Pronacom

Teachers in Guatemala attend a training workshop in early 2020 funded by the threshold program.

Building upon the successes of the first round of training, MCC and the Government of Guatemala are co-funding the second two-year cohort of students in mathematics. This past summer, 553 students enrolled in their second semester of teacher training studies at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. MCC hopes that the Government of Guatemala can continue investing in the teaching degree program following the completion of the threshold program.
Bayron Isaac Monzón is a current training participant from San Marcos, a small mountainous village in the west of Guatemala near the country’s border with Mexico. In an interview with MCC, he spoke of how the teaching courses have taught him innovative ways to teach that focus on practical application of mathematics. While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to teaching, he has been able to successfully teach his students, and he credits the training he has received through the program.

Monzón spoke of how teachers are often agents of change and development in their communities. In a country like Guatemala that has faced human development challenges such as low levels of education and high levels of poverty and inequality, the training program has given both teachers and their students opportunities to succeed. Moreover, Monzón spoke of hope. While some Guatemalans are migrating for reasons including a perceived lack of economic opportunities, he believes that his students can work hard, receive a strong and effective education, and find a future in Guatemala. In the words of Monzón, “Guatemala is a multicultural, multilingual, multiethnic, humble, and sincere country, and with a quality education system the country can move forward.”