WASHINGTON (Nov. 30, 2021) – The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of the Republic of Guatemala celebrated the successful completion of a five-year, $28 million threshold program today in Guatemala City, Guatemala that helped advance economic growth in Guatemala by strengthening secondary education and increasing the country’s ability to deter and detect tax evasion.
MCC’s Vice President of the Department of Policy and Evaluation, Alicia Philips Mandaville, joined roughly 50 representatives from across Guatemala’s government, business, and civic communities to Guatemala’s National Palace, the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, to recognize the strong progress the MCC-Guatemala Threshold Program has made to support Guatemala’s efforts to reduce poverty and foster economic growth.
“Guatemala’s future prosperity depends on providing a quality education to today’s youth,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Guatemala William Popp. “I applaud the efforts of Minister Claudia Ruiz to improve the quality of secondary education by implementing a new process for the selection and recruitment of secondary teachers that requires candidates to pass a test in the subject that they will teach.”
Teaching the Teachers
During the program’s development, MCC and the Government of Guatemala learned the quality of secondary education often left students without the skills necessary to compete in Guatemala’s job market. The lack of skilled labor in turn limits the country’s ability to grow its economy. Given that many teachers often do not fully master the subject they are teaching, improving the skills of secondary school teachers was a critical first step to improving secondary education in Guatemala.
Together, MCC and the Guatemalan government’s implementing team – Programa Nacional de Competitividad de Guatemala, PRONACOM– supported the work of Guatemalan universities and the Ministry of Education to create a university-level course and train more than 2,000 secondary teachers in mathematics, communication and language, natural sciences, gender and social inclusion, and leadership and educational management.
“The professional development provided through the threshold program has done an amazing job of building skills and capacity within Guatemala’s educational system,” said Philips Mandaville. “Along with providing the foundational skills for better teaching, the program also furthers teachers’ appreciation of the specific disadvantages that female students face through dedicated gender and social inclusion content.”
Teachers who participated in the training received tablets, which became essential tools when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the training to move to an online environment. To sustain the improvements in teaching quality made under the program, the government will implement a new competitive hiring process for secondary teachers across Guatemala.
Preparing Students for the Job Market
The Guatemalan government and MCC also conducted intensive consultations with private sector leaders to identify industries with an unmet demand for skilled labor. Equipped with this knowledge, the threshold program developed nine, three-year vocational programs and high-school-level curriculums with topics that include digital content, software development, and hotel administration and management. There are currently 762 students from 13 schools participating in the pilot vocational degree programs.
Improving Tax and Customs Administration
To help finance Guatemala’s education system and other government priorities, the MCC-Guatemala Threshold Program focused on strengthening the Government of Guatemala’s ability to collect taxes and deter tax evasion and corruption. MCC partnered with the U.S. Treasury Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), to help the Government of Guatemala undertake reforms such as establishing an internal affairs office to deter corruption, implementing an audit quality control process, establishing a data warehouse to improve use of data analytics to detect tax evasion, and improving the customs risk management systems to facilitate clearance of low-risk cargo and focus on high-risk traders.
While MCC has concluded its formal partnership with Guatemala, the Government of Guatemala’s commitment to additional reforms and further investments of its tax resources in the education sector will continue to create new opportunities for the country’s youth while fostering economic growth that can be felt by all Guatemalans.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights.