This dissertation is a study of official education and its ability to improve the lives of people defined as poor. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2000) define education as the number one development strategy for the reduction of poverty. It is believed that the poor will be able to lift themselves out of an economically difficult situation, if they have the resources necessary to do so. This is not the first time education has been promoted as an agent for change, and over the years it has become an unquestionable truth within development practice that education is a human right and vital for the well-being of a country and its people. Critiques of such a view are not lacking from the development discourse, however, the power held by multilateral institutions such as the United Nations seems to be sufficient for this view on development to prevail. In my investigations, I try to shed some light on how education can impact the lives of the rural poor among indigenous communities in Guatemala. I do not single out negative or positive effects, but look at the actual changes education has contributed to for families in the villages. Through different case studies I show how individuals generate income and how their education relates to their labour. As my observations show, education does enlarge their choices to some extent, but their financial situation seems to remain the same as before they acquired an education. I therefore move on to find out what other factors impact the strategy of education from being an income generating resource for individuals. I look at the labour market, salaries, living costs, gender and fertility rates. I also include how education is interpreted locally and to what extent education is able to create ethnic integration and social equality. Through my analysis, I try to show that there is no one- to- one relationship between the reduction of poverty and the implementation of an official educational system. Because the causes of poverty are mainly political, the idea that it can be solved at the individual level does not hold water. Building schools and matriculating students is less complicated than initiating necessary political and economical reforms. Defining lack of education as a cause of poverty, leads to a belief that the solution is to educate the poor. But like so many other strategies promoted to create development, education becomes a solution derived from a definition of poverty that avoids the complexity of the issue. My work engages critiques of the simplification of development solutions as presented by multilateral institutions. Nevertheless, I also show that there are positive spin-off effects as a result of education, effects which in time might prove vital for positive development.