Most secondary schools are located in the urban areas of Guatemala and are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (Catholicism is the predominant religion of Guatemala, although there are many Protestants and Mayan religions practiced). Several German, French, and American schools also exist. Teachers at these schools use English, rather than Spanish, to deliver instruction.
Since compulsory education ends at the sixth grade, many Guatemalan children do not attend secondary school. In fact, recent estimates hold that only one third of all children continue their education beyond primary school, a problem that may contribute to a high level of illiteracy in adults over age 15. Children may not have easy access to a secondary school, or, if they come from agricultural communities, they are unable to attend because they must work to support their families' farms.
At the secondary level, students receive three years of general education, called Ciclo Prevocacional, followed by two years of vocational training, called Ciclo Diversifacado, which allows students to "specialize" in one of several professional areas such as education, agriculture, and business. Students who complete the final three years of study receive a Bachillerato, the equivalent of a high school diploma, and are eligible to be admitted to university. Instead of attending Ciclo Diversifcado, students may opt to devote their following three years of study to specialized studies, resulting in a certificates in perito (certification) in industria (industry), agricola (agriculture), or contador (law).
Guatemala faces a rather hefty illiteracy problem with as many as 50 percent of the entire population, especially rural women, being functionally illiterate. To combat this problem and to improve the quality of education, Guatemala implemented a requirement into the secondary education requirements for its senior students. Before completing the curriculum necessary for receiving a diploma, secondary students are now required to teach five people to read. This mandate, which went into effect in 2001, seeks to increase citizens' awareness of the need to educate the populace, while simultaneously combating illiteracy. Although this measure was met with some initial resistance by the schools, it has so far proven to be an effective means of reducing the widespread effects of illiteracy in the country.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGuatemala - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education