Education in Mexico
|Secretariat of Public Education|
|Secretary of Education
|National education budget (2007)|
|Primary languages||Spanish as the standard. Other minority languages are available in their local communities.|
|Current system||September 25, 1921|
|Literacy (2009 )|
|Total||93.4 % |
|Post secondary||2.3 million|
|Sources: Sistema Educativo de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Principales cifras, ciclo escolar 2003-2004 pdf and the 2000 Census (INEGI)|
Education in Mexico is regulated by the Secretariat of Public Education (Spanish: Secretaría de Educación Pública). Education standards are set by this Ministry at all levels except in "autonomous" universities chartered by the government (e.g., UNAM). Accreditation of private schools is accomplished by a mandatory approval and registration with this institution.
The 1917 Constitution provides that education should avoid privileges of religion, and that one religion or its members may not be given preference in education over another. Religious instruction is prohibited in public schools; however, religious associations are free to maintain private schools, which receive no public funds. Proof of Mexican citizenship is required to attend public schools for free.
In the same fashion to other education systems, education may be described in identifiable stages, such as Primary School, Junior High School, High School, Higher education, and Postgraduate education.
In Mexico, basic education is normally divided in three steps: primary school (primaria), comprising grades 1-6; junior high school (secundaria), comprising grades 7-9; and high school (preparatoria), comprising grades 10-12.
Depending on definitions, Primary education comprises primaria and secundaria, which are compulsory by law, while Secondary education only includes preparatoria, which is compulsory.
The terms "Primary School" or "Elementary School" usually corresponds to primaria, comprising grades 1-6, when the student's age is 6 to 12 years old. It starts the basic compulsory education system.
Depending on the school, a bilingual education may be offered from the beginning, where half the day instruction is in Spanish, and the rest is in a second language, for example, English, French, Tzotzil or Tzeltal.
In Spanish, the general term for "school" is escuela, but in Mexico, it is common to use escuela for public schools, which are the majority, while the term colegio (cognate with "college") is reserved for private schools.
Junior High School
The terms "Junior High School" or "Middle School" usually correspond to secundaria, comprising grades 7-9, when the student's age is 12 to 15 years old. It is part of the basic compulsory education system, it follows primary school, and comes before proper "high school" (preparatoria).
At this level, more specialized subjects may be taught such as Physics and Chemistry, and World History.
Despite the similarities of the words "Secondary school" and secundaria, in Mexico the former is usually translated to preparatoria, while in other countries, such as Puerto Rico, or within the Spanish-speaking populations of the United States, the term secundaria refers to High School.
The terms "High School" or "gymnasium" usually corresponds to preparatoria or bachillerato, comprising grades 10-12, when the student's age is 15 to 18 years old. Students may choose between two main kinds of high school programmes: The SEP incorporated A and a University Incorporated one, depending on the state. Other minority of programs are available only for private schools, such as the International Baccalaureate which carries a completely different system. Nevertheless, in order to be taught, it must include a national subject at least. In addition, there are programs such as tecnología and comercio that prepare students for a particular vocational career.
Preparatoria traditionally consists of three years of education, divided into six semesters, with the first semesters having a common curriculum, and the latter ones allowing some degree of specialization, either in physical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) or social sciences (commerce, philosophy, law, etc.). The term bachillerato is most commonly used for institutions that offer a three-year education program that "prepares" the student with general knowledge to continue studying at a university. In contrast, the term preparatioria is most often used for institutions that provide vocational training, in two or three years, so the graduate can get a job as a skilled worker, for example, an assistant accountant, a bilingual secretary or an electronics technician.
In recent years, the progression through Mexican education has come under much criticism. While over 90% of children in Mexico attend primary school, only 62% percent attend secondary school ("preparatoria"). After secondary school, only a quarter pass on to higher education. A commonly cited reason for this is the lack of infrastructure throughout the rural schools. Moreover, the government has been criticized for paying teachers too much and investing too little into the students. In its annual report on education, the OECD has placed at below average in mathematics, science, and reading.
Higher education usually follows the US education model with an at least 4-year Bachelor's degree undergraduate level (Licenciatura), and two degrees at the postgraduate level, a 2-year Master's degree (Maestría), and a 3-year Doctoral degree (Doctorado). This structure of education very closely conforms to the Bologna Process started in Europe in 1999, allowing Mexican students to study abroad and pursue a Master's degree after Licenciatura, or a Doctoral degree after Maestría. Unlike other OECD countries, the majority of Mexico's public universities do not accredit part-time enrollment programs.
Undergraduate studies normally last at least 4 years, divided into semesters or quarters, depending on the college or university, and lead to a Bachelor's degree (Licenciatura). According to OECD reports 23% of Mexicans youth from ages 23-35 have a college degree.
Although in theory every graduate of a Licenciatura is a Licenciate (Licenciado, abbreviated Lic.) of his or her profession, it is common to use different titles for common professions such as Engineering and Architecture.
- Engineer, Ingeniero, abbreviated Ing.
- Electrical Engineer, Ingeniero Eléctrico
- Electronics Engineer, Ingeniero Electrónico
- Mechanical Engineer, Ingeniero Mecánico
- Computer Systems Engineer, Ingeniero en Sistemas Computacionales, abbreviated I.S.C.
- Architect, Arquitecto, abbreviated Arq.
- Licenciate, any degree, specially those from social sciences, Licenciado, abbreviated Lic.
New regulations since 2005 divide postgraduate studies at Mexican universities and research centers in two main categories:
- Targeted at professional development
- Especialización. A 1-year course after a Bachelor's degree (Licenciatura), which awards a Specialization Diploma (Diploma de Especialización).
- Maestría. A 2-year degree after a Bachelor's degree (Licenciatura), which awards the title of Master (Maestro).
- Targeted at scientific research
- Maestría en Ciencias. A 2-year degree after a Bachelor's degree (Licenciatura), which awards the title of Master of Science (Maestro en Ciencias).
- Doctorado en Ciencias. A 3-year degree after a Master's degree (either Maestría or Maestría en Ciencias), or a 4-year degree directly after the Bachelor's degree (Licenciatura) for high-achieving students, which awards the title of Doctor of Science (Doctor en Ciencias).
The table below describes the most common patterns for schooling in the state sector:
|3||1° de preescolar||N/A||Preschool||Kinder / Jardín de Niños / Educación preescolar|
|4||2° de preescolar||N/A|
|5||3° de preescolar||N/A|
|6||1° de primaria||N/A||Primary school / Elementary school||Primaria / Educación básica|
|7||2° de primaria||N/A|
|8||3° de primaria||N/A|
|9||4° de primaria||N/A|
|10||5° de primaria||N/A|
|11||6° de primaria||N/A|
|12||1° de secundaria||N/A||Secondary school / Middle school / Junior High School||Secundaria / Educación básica|
|13||2° de secundaria||N/A|
|14||3° de secundaria||N/A|
|15||4°/1° de preparatoria||1st and 2nd semesters||High school||Preparatoria / Bachillerato / Educación media superior|
|16||5°/2° de preparatoria||3rd and 4th semesters|
|17||6°/3° de preparatoria||5th and 6th semesters|
|18||N/A||1st and 2nd semesters / 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters||Bachelor's degree / Licentiate||Licenciatura / Educación superior|
|19||N/A||3rd and 4th semesters / 4th, 5th and 6th quarters|
|20||N/A||5th and 6th semesters / 7th, 8th and 9th quarters|
|21||N/A||7th and 8th semesters / 10th quarter|
|22||N/A||9th semester (in most of the cases)|
The 1960 national census illustrates the historically poor performance of the Mexican educational system. The 1960 census found that as to all Mexicans over the age of five, 43.7% had not completed one year of school, 50.7% had completed six years or less of school, and only 5.6% had continued their education beyond six years of school.
In 1950, Mexico had only three million students enrolled in the education. Today, there are 32 million enrolled students.
In 2012, some teachers from rural areas, specifically, from Michoacan and Guerrero states, opposed federal regulations which prevented them from automatic lifetime tenure, the ability to sell or will their jobs, and the teaching of either English or computer skills.
As of January 2015, the International Schools Consultancy (ISC) listed Mexico as having 151 international schools. ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and is international in its orientation." This definition is used by publications including The Economist.
- "North America - Mexico". The World Factbook. U. S. Central Intelligence Agency.
- Kuznetsov, Yevgeny N.; Dahlman, Carl J. (2008). Mexico's Transition to a Knowledge-Based Economy: Challenges and Opportunities. World Bank Publications. p. 63. doi:10.1596/978-0-8213-6921-0. ISBN 978-0-8213-6921-0.
- United States
- German, Dutch systems
- Rama, A. (2011, April 13). “Factbox: Facts about Mexico's education system.” Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/13/us-mexico-education-factbox-idUSTRE73C4UY20110413!
- (2013, January 1). “Mexico.” Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.oecd.org/edu/Mexico_EAG2013 Country Note.pdf!
- Kuznetsov & Dahlman 2008, p. 72.
- Kuznetsov & Dahlman 2008, p. 81.
- Tamez Guerra, Reyes; Rubio Oca, Julio; Fuentes Lemus, Bulmaro; Valdés Garza, Mario (May 2005). Disposiciones para la Operación de Estudios de Posgrado en el Sistema Nacional de Educación Superior Tecnológica (in Spanish). Mexico: Dirección General de Educación Superior Tecnológica.
- Agren, David (December 10, 2012). "'Normalistas' fight changes in Mexico education system". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 4A.
- Francisco Alba, The Population of Mexico: Trends, Issues, and Policies (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1982), 52.
- Rama, A. (2011, April 13). “Factbox: Facts about Mexico's education system.” Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/13/us- mexico-education-factbox-idUSTRE73C4UY20110413!
- Tamez Guerra, Reyes (2004). Sistema Educativo de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Principales cifras, ciclo escolar 2003-2004. Mexico City: Dirección General de Planeación, Programación y Presupuesto Secretaría de Educación Pública. ISBN 968-5778-12-4.
- Department of State (2004). International Religious Freedom Report 2004. Mexico. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
- US Department of Education (2003) Education around the World: Mexico.
- World Bank, "PROGRAM DOCUMENT FOR A PROPOSED LOAN IN THE AMOUNT OF US$300,751,879.70 TO THE UNITED MEXICAN STATES FOR A SECOND UPPER SECONDARY EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT POLICY LOAN", International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, February 8, 2012
- "Flunking the test: Failing schools pose a big challenge to President Enrique Peña Nieto's vision for modernising Mexico." The Economist, March 7, 2015, pp. 35-36.
- OECD Education Policy Outlook: Mexico
- (Spanish) SEP homepage
- Information on education in Mexico, OECD - Contains indicators and information about Mexico and how it compares to other OECD and non-OECD countries
- Diagram of Mexican education system, OECD - Using 1997 ISCED classification of programmes and typical ages. Also in Spanish