In recent years, access to education has expanded in Mexico. From 1950 to 2000, the total number of students enrolled in some form of formal education grew from 3.25 million to 28.22 million. While these statistics represent a vast improvement, there is still a lot of room for reform in Mexico’s educational system – recently there have been clashes between the government and teachers’ unions. Issues such as regional and economic inequalities, lack of educational access, financial strains and other factors make it difficult for many children to attain a quality education.
To aid in understanding the core issues with education in Mexico, here are some recent facts and figures:
- Despite the increase in enrollment Mexican schools have seen, many students fail to actually attend school and complete their education. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that about 21 percent of students in Mexico give up pursuing their education before the age of 14.
- For students who do intend to complete their full public education, there are few high-quality options. This is because the Mexican government currently spends about $7,600 per student, compared to approximately $27,900 per student in the United States.
- Additionally, the huge increase in the number of enrolled students has created a financial strain on Mexico’s government, which could contribute to the diminishing quality of public schools. This is because the majority of education in Mexico is publicly-funded, with 70 percent of students enrolled in higher education attending public schools.
- In particular, access to public education is the worst for indigenous and rural communities, according to the director of Mexico’s National Institute of Educational Evaluation, Sylvia Schmelkes. Government leaders fear that this lack of educational access could further the growing income inequality in Mexico, as rural students are not provided with opportunities for upward mobility.
- Patricio Solís, the research professor at the Center for Sociological Studies of the National Institute, found that the impact this has on rural students can be seen empirically. Children in the highest income groups have 7 times greater access to education than children of lower income levels.
- In addition to regional differences, gender differences are another major issue in Mexico’s educational system. Many young women are deterred from receiving an education and are instead pressured to marry at a young age. This has a direct impact on their education, as 83 percent of girls who choose marriage drop out of school, compared to the 15 percent of unmarried girls who drop out.
According to these current facts and figures in Mexico, access to education is growing but is in need of major reform. Despite the president’s attempts to reform education, many of his plans have been criticized for their impact on rural schools. Teachers argue that the president must address the unique situation and education style in rural areas rather than penalize them for failing to meet universal standards.
– Julia Morrison