Although the first 6 years of basic education are theoretically free and mandatory, the truth is that outside cities even primary schools are scarce especially in rural indigenous areas. There, religious institutions are often the only filler in the gap
The first 3 years of secondary education known as basico
are similar to junior high school elsewhere and provide pupils with a spread of subjects aimed at preparing them for the widest range of working roles.
The final 3 years of school education at secondary school called diversificado
are more specialized. At state schools most students study either teaching or bookkeeping. Their range of choice at private secondary schools is much improved, for there agronomy, auto-mechanics, computers, secretarial services and tourism may be taught as well.
The objectives of the Guatemala vocational education system are to teach people new skills in under-employed areas that can help them build a better life. Hope remains a neglected commodity for many, although progress continues to be slowly made.
The oldest university in Guatemala (and the only state university) is the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala
. It was founded in 1652 by a catholic priest, but only officially decreed in 1676 by King Charles II of Spain.
There are in addition 11 other private universities most note-worthily Universidad Rafael Landivar
and Universidad Fransisco Marroquin
. These are complemented by a variety of technical and teacher training colleges.