Guatemala to Open First Maya University

December 17, 2004

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – Thisnorthernmost Central American country,where nearly half the citizens are Mayawho speak indigenous languages andretain much of their ancestral culture, nextyear will open its first Maya university,run academically and administratively byNative Americans.The project to establish the MayaUniversity of Guatemala, or “Mayab’Nimatijob” in Quiché language, is scheduledto be formally presented in the comingweeks by the National MayaEducation Council, known as CNEM.“With this launch, we seek to thankand appeal to our creator, as well as ourancestors, for the future of education,especially higher education, and thedevelopment of Guatemala’s indigenouscommunities,” said CNEM’s Eduardo deLeón.The Maya University of Guatemalawill be governed by a system differentfrom those of other universities aroundthe world, De Leon explained. Not onlywill it specialize in the wisdom and cosmicvision of ancient Maya culture, butthe school itself will be governed by acouncil of elders, similar to the structureof indigenous communities.Among the academic specialtiesGuatemala’s newest institute of higherlearning will offer are Mayan medicineand law, agronomy, education, communitydevelopment, mathematics – related particularlyto the culture’s calendar – architecture,art and astronomy.Most of the professors will be Mayainculcated in indigenous culture, regardlessof whether they hold academic titlesor degrees. Several of the specialist professorswill be non-Maya with training inspecific disciplines.“The ancient Maya possessed the giftof scientific inquiry, a vision of astronomy,traditional medicine and a way to record thepassage of time,” said Juana Vásquez, aspiritual guide and member of CNEM.The new university’s doors are opento all people interested in specializing inMaya culture, regardless of ethnic backgroundand nationality.Creation of the Maya University ofGuatemala was set in play by the 1996 Peace accords that ended the country’s36-year civil war.

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