Innovating to Combat Illiteracy – Guatemala

José Antonio Huertas Izaguirre is helping to transform education in Guatemala, no small feat in a country where the illiteracy rate hovers around 30 percent. Recognized with a Teacher’s Choice Award at the Latin America Innovative Teachers Partners in Learning Forum in Panama City in 2010, Izaguirre knows the importance of education to his country.

Why is education important to you?

It is the only means by which individuals achieve, overcome, and have better employment opportunities, thereby improving the living conditions of society.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

To have worked with student teachers to create educational materials using digital tools. They became teachers with a different vision of education.

How can other educators facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned?

Never say, “No we can´t.” Face the challenges, seize the unknown knowledge and try again. Every day you learn something new — even from your students.

If you could change one thing about today’s “system” of education, what would it be? 

How to prepare teachers. I think the education of teachers should be transformed in some way, starting with high schools, and including bachelors in education programs. Our future teachers should have more experience when starting to teach.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

Be different, knowing that in education there isn´t anything written, as in a cooking recipe. There are as many ways to teach as to learn, and while grades are important, students generate their own knowledge when we are being innovative.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Most important in this noble profession is vocation. Without this element there are no teachers or professors. You can have extensive knowledge, educational technology knowledge, but without VOCATION, there is no chemistry of teaching.

What is your greatest hope for the future of education in your country?

That all inhabitants of Guatemala learn to read and write, to eradicate illiteracy, to reduce the digital gap, to have decent schools as well as teachers who see education as a tool to get ahead, and that our students are outstanding citizens of Guatemala, a country of eternal spring.

Increasing literacy is a critical goal in Guatemala. Are educators given enough tools and resources to address illiteracy in your country?


About José Antonio Huertas Izaguirre

José Antonio Huertas Izaguirre,  Teacher of Technology Education and Computer Sciences Guatemala City, Guatemala

José Izaguirre considers himself a leader and an innovator and, he says, “I love my job!” His work has been profiled by Galileo University and Guatemalan media. Izagguirre hopes to become a university professor.

Current residence:  Guatemala City
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Website I check every day:
Person who inspires me most: Jesus Christ.
Favorite childhood memory: Playing in places full of trees, rivers, and vegetation and enjoying with my childhood friends.
Favorite book: Differential and Integral Calculus

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