Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
National policies related to education in Guatemala are handled through the Ministerio de Educacion (the Ministry of Education), presided over by the national Minister of Education. The ministry's sphere of influence covers predominantly, but not exclusively, primary (compulsory) schools. The Minister is responsible for such matters as developing proficiency examinations that students are required to pass in order to move from one grade level to the next; ensuring that state curriculum is observed fully in public schools and at least partially in private schools; and managing finances allocated to education, which is approximately 1.8 percent of the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). All diplomas are issued to students by the Ministry, not by the individual schools or programs of study. Additionally, programs for non-traditional (older) learners are offered, especially for semi-qualified workers in the agricultural and health sectors.
Educational research in Guatemala covers a spectrum of academic disciplines, including agriculture, business, arts and sciences, social work, engineering, law, and medicine. Each university maintains active research programs in many of these areas, and there are several Guatemalan organizations that support faculty research, including the Centro de Estudios de Guatemala (The Center for the Study of Guatemala), the Centro de Investigaciónes Económicas Nacionales (The Center for Economic Investigation), and Facultad Lationamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Latin American Faculty of Science and Society). Each university also contains a host of institutes which support different research projects, such as la Universidad de Valle's Centro de Estudios en Salud (Center for Health Studies), Centro de Investigaciónes en Ingenieria Civil y Ciencias de la Tierra (Center for Research in Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences), and Centro de Investigaciónes Arqueologicas y Anthropologicas (Center for Archeological and Anthropological Research) to name a few. Additionally, many institutions in other countries work jointly with counterparts in Guatemala to conduct academic research, including the Kaqchikel Resource Center at the University of Kansas, the Programa Cooperativo para el Desarrollo Sostenible de los Recursos Naturales y la Conservación del Medio Ambiente (the Cooperative Program for the Continued Development of Natural Resources and the Conservation of the Atmosphere) between the Universidad del Valle and Texas A & M University and the Instituto de Nutrición de Centro America y Panama (Central America and Panama Institute for Nutrition). As the effects of globalization continue to impact Guatemala and the surrounding area, the number of collaborative projects will likely increase.
Each university in Guatemala offers a series of conferences, symposia, or other events that allow scholars from within and outside of the country to share insights on problems affecting the region. Seminars related to matters of health, medicine, technology, and natural disasters (particularly earthquakes) can be found at the universities. Moreover, the country's rich Mayan heritage allows for many research projects related to anthropology, archaeology, and cultural studies, which attract researchers from all over the world. The Office of the Ministry of Education also works with institutions from other countries to offer different types of teaching and research exchange programs through its Departmento de Coordinación con Organismos Internaciónales (Department of Coordination with International Organizations).
In addition to research and teaching programs which exist primarily for the benefit of citizens in Guatemala, many Spanish language-intensive schools exist, particularly in the capital city. Adult students from the United States, Europe, Asia, and other countries find Guatemala an excellent place to learn or refine their Spanish language skills. Most of these schools, some of which are coordinated through programs in other countries, provide students with immersion in Latin American culture, the opportunity to live with a Guatemalan family, and an excellent way to learn conversational and business Spanish. As of 2000 there were at least five such programs located in Guatemala.
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