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.