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Educational System in Guatemala

The one tip that you hear expats living in Guatemala repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Guatemala. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Guatemala is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Guatemala.
|-Educational System in Guatemala

Guatemala, a Central American country known for its rich Mayan heritage, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, also has a unique educational system. The Guatemalan educational system is divided into several stages, each with its own focus and age group. This guide aims to provide expats with a comprehensive understanding of the educational landscape in Guatemala, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, availability of bilingual schools, types of private schools, and the possibilities of homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in Guatemala?

The Guatemalan educational system is divided into four main stages: Pre-Primary Education (Educación Preprimaria), Primary Education (Educación Primaria), Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria), and Higher Education (Educación Superior). Each stage has a specific age group and educational focus.

Pre-Primary Education (Educación Preprimaria)

Pre-Primary Education in Guatemala is for children aged 4 to 6 years. This stage focuses on the child’s overall development, including cognitive, physical, social, and emotional aspects. It prepares children for the next stage of education by introducing them to basic concepts in language, mathematics, and social interaction.

Primary Education (Educación Primaria)

Primary Education in Guatemala is for children aged 7 to 12 years. This stage focuses on the development of basic literacy, numeracy, and scientific knowledge. It also emphasizes the development of social skills and civic values. Primary Education is compulsory in Guatemala.

Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria)

Secondary Education in Guatemala is for students aged 13 to 18 years. This stage is divided into two cycles: Basic Cycle (Ciclo Básico) and Diversified Cycle (Ciclo Diversificado). The Basic Cycle provides a general education, while the Diversified Cycle offers specialized education in various fields.

Higher Education (Educación Superior)

Higher Education in Guatemala includes universities, technological institutes, and other institutions that offer professional and academic degrees. Admission to these institutions usually requires a secondary school diploma and passing an entrance exam.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in Guatemalan schools by providing necessary documents such as birth certificates, previous school records, and immunization records. It’s advisable to contact the school directly for specific enrollment procedures as they may vary from school to school.

My children are still learning Spanish, can they enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Spanish can enroll in public schools in Guatemala. However, they may face language barriers as the medium of instruction in public schools is Spanish. Some schools may offer additional language support for non-Spanish speaking students.

Are there public bilingual schools?

There are a few public bilingual schools in Guatemala, particularly in areas with a high concentration of expats. Admission to these schools usually requires a proficiency test in both Spanish and the second language.

What types of private schools are common in Guatemala?

Private schools in Guatemala include Catholic schools, International schools, and Bilingual schools. International schools often follow an international curriculum and offer instruction in English or other foreign languages. Bilingual schools provide instruction in both Spanish and another language, usually English.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in Guatemala typically send their children to private schools, particularly international and bilingual schools, due to the language of instruction and the quality of education.

How expensive are Private schools in Guatemala?

The cost of private schools in Guatemala varies widely depending on the type of school, location, and the services provided. International schools tend to be more expensive, with tuition fees ranging from a few thousand to several thousand dollars per year.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Guatemala?

Yes, homeschooling is allowed in Guatemala. However, it’s important to ensure that the homeschooling curriculum meets the educational standards set by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Guatemala?

Yes, children can attend online schools while living in Guatemala. This can be a good option for families who prefer a flexible learning schedule or a curriculum that aligns with their home country’s educational system.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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