Increasing access to primary education
In 2005, the United Nations (UN) drafted Guatemala’s first progress report on its achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The second report, issued in 2006, was handled entirely by the Office of the President after Guatemala was chosen as a pilot country for compiling a national report on monitoring MDG performance.
This second report measures the changes that Guatemala has witnessed in the five years since the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the 10 years since the signing of the 1996 Peace Agreements. The report is innovative in three ways:
Guatemala does not have a specific plan for achieving the MDGs. It is believed that the MDGs are linked to the policies and programmes that are under way and on the right track. Through the Social Cohesion Council, integrated by ministries, secretariats and funds dealing with social development, the recently-elected Government (2008-2011) defines social priorities and coordinates social investment in order to reduce economic gaps among vulnerable groups. The programme being implemented by the Council includes comprehensive strategies for women, children, people with disabilities and youth. One of the strategies for reducing poverty is conditional cash transfers through the Mi Familia Progresa programme focused on 45 out of 332 municipalities. Depending on the household composition, transfers are conditioned on children’s attendance of elementary school and on taking children to health services.
During the past 15 years, Guatemala has made significant progress in increasing access to elementary school. As long as children at this level can reach the 6th grade and complete their primary education, the country might meet some of the Goals established in this area. Improving gender equality at the primary education level could be achieved as well, provided that indigenous girls in rural areas are given opportunities.
UNDP Guatemala has crafted various strategies, some of which will take effect in 2009, to help promote and monitor the implementation of the MDGs. Two initiatives are noteworthy:
a) The “MDG Observatory” aims to provide guidance to the Government and to ensure transparent and constructive interaction with all partners involved in achieving the MDGs in Guatemala. It intends to ensure that adequate data and information pertaining to the MDGs is effectively disseminated and used as a basis to implement and monitor poverty reduction policies and programmes. It is envisioned as a consultative body for dialogue on poverty reduction and improved governance, where the Government, civil society and donor community will monitor and debate objectives, initiatives and results.
b) Under the Resident Coordinator’s leadership, the National Human Development Report (NHDR) team produced an MDG manual with a human rights approach, intended to promote and facilitate knowledge-sharing regarding MDG achievements. Guatemala’s Presidential Commission for Human Rights requested this initiative and is promoting its use through the Development Councils structure, which consists of national, regional, municipal and local development councils.
Last updated 21 August 2008