I. Kotenyatkina

Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
Globalization in the modern world has generated changes in the economy, politics, culture, and education. Modern society is a knowledge-based society, where education is seen as the main source of economic growth. In multilingual countries, bilingual education plays an important role, because bilingualism has a beneficial effect on the country’s economy, and it also contributes to integration into the global social, cultural, and educational space.

Guatemala is a multi-ethnic and multicultural country where, besides Spanish (the official language), 21 languages of the Maya people, Xinca, and Garifuna are also used. Educational reforms in Guatemala aim to ensure that all segments of the population have access to education. In this regard, bilingual education in their native language and in Spanish is very important for the Mayan, Xincan, and the Garifuna peoples, as it helps them to reveal their potential, actively participate in social and political life, as well as maintain their culture and intercultural coexistence.

However, the implementation of the plan for intercultural bilingual education is faced with diverse problems. Some of these are the lack of bilingual teachers and teaching materials, schools in remote areas, state funding, and the interest of parents. Overall, 47.5% of the Guatemalan population live in rural areas. In the departments where Indigenous people predominate, women traditionally do not have access to education. Thus, the most vulnerable sector of the Guatemalan society, due to historical and cultural reasons, are indigenous girls.

We analyse the changes in the field of education over the past decades, considering those factors affecting the current situation of primary school education in Guatemala, and the obstacles to the successful implementation of intercultural bilingual education. Intercultural bilingual education favours the inclusion of children in the educational process and not only helps to eliminate the discrimination against indigenous girls but also supports the cultural identity of indigenous peoples and offers opportunities for their integration into the social and political life of the country.