Mentorship's Potential to Consider Sociocultural Realities: Perspectives from Guatemalan Rural Teachers in Indigenous Schools


  • Katy De La Garza


Mentorship, Indigenous Teachers, Teacher Training, Intercultural Bilingual Education, Latin America, Guatemala,


Rural and Indigenous populations have the lowest educational achievement indicators and teachers with the least years of training. Global education movements have led to an increase in access to schooling by rural and Indigenous populations but high drop-out rates persist and education policies, curricular contents, and teacher trainings have progressively become urban-biased and insensitive to context. Using a case from Guatemala, this study offers policy knowledge on rural and Indigenous teacher professionalization by analyzing the potential of pedagogical mentorship as an in-service teacher training resource that can consider contextual and sociocultural realities. It also offers to improve our understandings of the challenges faced by teachers to provide quality education in rural and Indigenous settings. The data is drawn from a qualitative and multisite research study. Results demonstrate that main challenges faced by rural teachers include economic hardships, malnutrition, inadequate and superficial teacher training in intercultural bilingual education, and the persistent absence of basic government social programs. The data also reveal a positive demand for pedagogical mentorship on behalf of all the interviewed teachers; particularly to enhance their knowledge and skills on bilingual intercultural education. Pedagogical mentorship offers a powerful opportunity for governments to enhance quality and context-sensitive education; but it is not enough. Multi sectorial efforts are necessary to tackle poverty, hunger and education and move towards the implementation of the long overdue right for rural and Indigenous peoples to access quality education that includes healthy students and relevant curricula.

Author Biography

Katy De La Garza

Katy de la Garza has more than 15 years of experience working with international development initiatives. Some of her previous collaborations include initiating operations of micro-finance NGO Pro Mujer in Mexico; managing the Rural Community Development Program for the U.S. Peace Corps in Costa Rica; leading The Nature Conservancy’s Costa Rica team to successfully execute conservations strategies, eco tourism projects and policy research; and working with international development government agencies such as the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) in programs focusing on teacher education quality and relevance for indigenous peoples in Guatemala. Ms. de la Garza holds a doctorate in International Educational Development and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University. Her research interests are related to social justice and include community development, teacher education, indigenous peoples rights, education and development in rural contexts, mentorship in education and education policy for marginalized populations in Latin America.  She currently works at Televisa Foundation supporting education programs for Hispanic children, youth and families in the U.S.