Aspect of the right to education

Promises and commitments


Access to primary education

Guatemala ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which states: "Everyone has the right to education. Primary education shall be compulsory and free to all” (Article 13)

30% of children do not finish primary school

Lower secondary school

The inhabitants have the right and obligation to receive early, pre-primary, primary and basic* education within the age limits set by the law (Article 74 of the Guatemalan Constitution)

34.4% of children are enrolled in lower-secondary school

Quality of education

Primary education is understood as those programmes desgined “to give students a sound basic education in reading, writing and mathematics…”**

Mean test scores of latest students assessment of 6th grade: 44.7 in math and 52.1 in reading (out of 100 points)


Equality of opportunities

"Guatemalans must build a just society that contributes to living under the rule of equality and social justice" (Article 1, Law of National Education (1991))

“A latino boy living in an urban area who has no other occupation but study and whose parents have 12 years of schooling and do not belong to the poorest quintile has a 97% chance of being in school. (In contrast) a girl in a rural area who works and belongs to an ethnic group, and whose parents are illiterate and belong to the poorest 20% of the income distribution, has just a 22% chance of being in the school system” (Porta & Laguna (2007))

Source: Felner, E (2008) – unpublished


* Basic education corresponds in Guatemala’s education system to lower secondary school

** Guatemala’s Secretariat of Planning and Programming of the Presidency citing the standard definition of primary education by UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education