Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Although access to primary education in Guatemala has increased in recent years, particularly in rural areas, levels of educational attainment and literacy remain among the lowest in Latin America. Inequalities in school access and grade attainment linked to ethnicity, gender, poverty, and residence remain. Age trends show that Mayan females are the least likely to ever enroll, and, if they do enroll, start school the latest and drop out earliest. Innovative programs for girls that combine instruction with social interaction in safe local community spaces may increase their educational attainment and their social networks and means of social support. In such programs, acquiring and mobilizing the support of the community and working with known and trusted Mayan organizations are likely to improve their cultural acceptability, effectiveness, and sustainability.