Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Limits of structure and function: Education policy, administration, and reform in a Guatemalan municipality
by Kintner, Max, Ph.D., Tulane University, 2011, 334; 3458572
Abstract (Summary)

Guatemala's record on implementation of education reforms does not encourage optimism. After more than a century of being proclaimed an urgent priority, something approaching universal access to primary school has only been achieved within the past decade. Universal access to secondary school remains a distant goal, while reforms mandated by the 1985 Constitution and 1996 Peace Accords have not resulted in necessary increases in budget allocations, decentralization, or implementation of linguistically and culturally appropriate pedagogical materials and methods.

This study explores barriers to implementation of education reforms in Guatemala. Following presentation of secondary data to describe the gravity of Guatemala's "education problem," legal underpinnings of important reform initiatives of recent decades are analyzed. Qualitative primary data explores barriers to effective administration and reform implementation in the large rural municipality of Chichicastenango. The intent of this case study is to reveal how participants in municipal-level school administration – parents, teachers, and district supervisory staff – collectively perceive each other, and how their perceptions affect education delivery. The study notes several ways that underfunding limits effective administration and reform.

A central conclusion is that all parties involved in local level school administration are most favorably inclined to aspects of the educational system over which they exercise the most control. For parents who prioritize education, this usually includes passive support and acceptance of educators, curricula, and pedagogical methods used at the school their children attend, but a negative view of teachers in general; for teachers, it means reluctance to change civil service rules that protect employment security but impede effective education, and may also include a desire not to subject themselves to greater supervisory control by local communities; frustrated district supervisors take a rather fatalistic and nonchalant attitude toward reform policies, while routinely cutting administrative corners to avoid conflicts with teachers and directors over whom they have only weak protocols for control. In general, the three sectors have diverse agendas that are sometimes incompatible, and provide little or no incentive to collectively embrace the most recent underfunded education policies, few of which have much chance of surviving beyond each new presidential administration.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Maxwell, Judith M.
School: Tulane University
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Latin American Studies, Public policy
Keywords: Educational reforms, Guatemala
Publication Number: 3458572
ISBN: 978-1-124-70695-5
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