Mexico Q1 Education Update
In the first quarter of 2019, the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, along with his government, have decided to reduce the budget spending for primary and early learning education. President Obrador has also made a pledge to dispose of the National Institute of Education Evaluation (NIEE) and has decided to cancel the controversial Mexican education reform initiative. During the first quarter of this year, a key debate in the media took place that discussed Mexico’s import of the dual education system of Germany. It was also found that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a review on the higher education system of the country and found the need to improve its quality and equity.
Key developments in Mexico’s education system
#1: Budget Cuts
It was found that the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and his government have made various cuts in the budget for both early learning education and primary education in a means to boost vocational training and higher education in the country instead. According to the report published by World Politics Review, the government slashed the budget for a day-care program designed for underprivileged mothers by 46%. At the same time, the government was found to have developed an apprenticeship program that targets young adults who neither have full-time working jobs nor currently studying.
While the president has pledged to build over a hundred new public universities, Alexandra Zapata, the director of education and civic innovation at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness believes that the changes made in the budget cuts in the sector of primary and early learning education will have serious implications for the socioeconomic inequality found in Mexico.
#2: Pledge made to dispose of the NIEE
The Mexican president pledged to discard the National Institute of Education Evaluation (NIEE). The NIEE works to gather data and conducts research to “objectively assess Mexico’s education system”. Alexandra Zapata believes that with the NIEE scrapped by the president, any future statistics presented about the country’s educational learning and achievement will not be credible. According to the Director of Education and Civic Innovation, this move would be a huge loss to the country in terms of acquiring independent and credible data.
#3: Cancellation of the Education reform initiative
The education reform initiative which was established by the predecessor of Mexican president Obrador, Enrique Pena Nieto, has been considered as controversial primarily in terms of the corruption found in the process of promotions and hiring of (unqualified) teachers. While the initiative saw some success in reducing corruption, it did not succeed in having clear and open communication with parents and qualified teachers. This resulted in the spread of proliferated rumors of the government trying to privatize the education system.
President Obrador has issued the canceling of this initiative just as promised during his presidential campaign. The teachers’ unions of Mexico were found to be widely pleased with this move. The cancellation of the education reforms should be approved by the two houses in the country’s Congress, which is presently controlled by the president’s MORENA political coalition. The country’s secretary of education has announced that the evaluations that provide the mechanisms for the promotion and hiring of teachers based on merit and accountability will remain the same. The NIEE has declared that if the government advances with the plan to remove evaluations for teachers seeking promotion, it will lead to the propensity for educators to sell their positions.
#4: Review of the Mexican education system by OECD
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report during the first quarter of 2019 on its review of Mexico’s higher education system. According to the Secretary General of OECD, Angel Gurria, Mexico needs to improve its education system in terms of quality and equity. The primary message issued by the OECD was to reiterate the importance of quality higher education for the improvement of the country’s economic competitiveness. The report presented by the OECD provides an overview of the funding and governance of the higher education system and its mechanisms in regard to social equity and quality of education. The OECD emphasized the need for a more transparent department for the allocation of public funds to the educational institutions. The report also highlighted the complexity of the governance in the country’s higher education system and pushed for a clear and coherent way of defining the responsibilities of the states, institutions, and the federal government.
#5: Mexico’s import of Germany’s dual education system
A key debate in the media was published on how Mexico imported the dual education system from Germany but has not succeeded in pushing it forward to operation. In 2015, the Mexican government invested in developing a dual vocational and technical system that collaborates school with work. In Germany, this system allows companies, chambers of commerce, and trade associations to develop training material. In Mexico, however, the system provided the state with the responsibility of preparing training material. This system awards similar qualifications for traditional training courses with a separate second certificate for technical skills. The apprentices from this program are offered a grant of $100 (USD) per month rather than providing a salary from the concerned company. It was found that this centralized approach placed by the government is insufficient without a strong rapport between the schools and the local economic institutions. The multinational companies are dissatisfied with the Mexican graduates and have, thus, established their own vocational training and educational courses in collaboration with local schools.