A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
By David Gaddis Smith
It was a quite a week involving education in Tijuana. It continues to make strides to bridge its education deficit, although some of the shortcuts it is taking are disconcerting to teachers without major health benefits and to environmentalists who just saw a park turned into property for a new high school. Also in the last week, the Colegio de la Frontera Norte think tank's president got a new five-year term, the private university CETYS received international accreditation and the private university Xochicalco was on the receiving end of scholarships from the governor. The Autonomous University of Baja California also celebrated its 55th anniversary, but the observance was marred when some students protested the handing out of USB drives containing an adaptation of a state slogan with political overtones.
Land that was to be parkland and possibly planted with trees, Parque Las Cascadas, instead now is going to be site of a new federal high school in southwestern Tijuana. The site began being used in October as a satellite extension of the CBTIS-146 federal technological high school in Playas de Tijuana. Around 200 students are taking classes in temporary buildings there. Plans are for construction to begin for a permanent school this spring. Story, Frontera. Story on the school opening in October.
Although Tijuana desperately needs more high schools, not everyone was happy to see a park converted into a school. The president of the Committee to Defend the Heritage of Tijuana, Eliseo Sandoval, said the area should be a green lung for the city. Many students who live in nearby housing developments such as the one pictured below the school site said they were happy to have a school to attend, however. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, El Mexicano, March 29 (PDF).
The school's temporary buildings in Parque Las Cascadas can be seen in the background, behind a housing development in the foreground.
Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante, who during his campaign promised to build two new high schools in Tijuana, now has met half that goal 15 months into his 36-month term. Now where will the other school be? (Bustamante, by the way, just was given a good governance award from the Federation of Municipalities.)
After it was announced that a state technological high school, the Cecyte La Presa, had been expanded so that it does have to be on triple session anymore, the weekly Zeta ran a story saying the system's employees do not have the benefits they should. The Centro de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos del Estado (CECYTE, Center for State Scientific and Technological Studies) system was formed in 1998 and has expanded to have 24 high schools with 1,500 workers. Zeta reported that the decree forming the system signed by then-Gov. Héctor Terán Terán called for school employees to receive health and other benefits, but did not spell out who would provide them. Zeta said only minor health problems are covered through the Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Gobierno y Municipios del Estado de Baja California (ISSSTECALI, Institute for Social Security and State Services for Baja California State Workers). Zeta reported that workers have held protests in Mexicali and Ensenada and are pursuing legal action. Story, Zeta. Story on the school expansion.
Pictures show Cecyte La Presa with addition in background, and rear shot of addition with Cerro Colorado in right background and housing developments, in left foreground. The school is to the west of La Presa Rodríguez, the Rodríguez Dam; the area is overrun with new housing developments.
On Tuesday (March 6), Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán announced there would be 70 state scholarships from a 2-million-peso ($154,000) for low-income students at the private Universidad Xochicalco. A plaque was unveiled at the school saying it had been named an Institution of Excellence by the state government on Jan. 6. Frontera reported that Osuna Millán said 68% of the state budget goes to education. Story, Frontera (PDF). Ad for Universidad Xochicalco (PDF).
Also last week, the private CETYS University proudly announced it had received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which also has accredited San Diego State University, UCLA and many other top U.S. institutions. Full page ad, Frontera (PDF). Story, Frontera (PDF).
On Friday, it was announced that Colegio de la Frontera Norte think tank President Tonatiuh Guillén had been reappointed to a second five-year term. Guillén was a dark-horse candidate when appointed five years ago. While MexicoPerspective does not know of all the dealings he has had with other Colef researchers (as always happens in any institution, there are some disgruntled employees), over the years it has been highly impressed with Guillén's academic record and his farsightedness in understanding Mexican government. Some say that in Mexico, everything is politics, and El Mexicano newspaper tried to make Guillén's reappointment sound like an overtly PAN political one. But what instead appears to have happened is that an outstanding researcher and analyst has been reappointed to an important post.
Politics did unfortunately intrude into the 55th anniversary celebration of the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC). Some students protested the handing out of USB drives that said: "Que UABC Nos Una" (That UABC Unite Us), an adaptation of the ubiquitous state slogan "Que BC Nos Una," which involves a play on words of the National Action Party governor's last name, Osuna. Story.
Overall, the developments over the past week or so show the strides that have been made in the education realm in Baja California, although the state, and Mexico, still have a far way to go. Baja California's comparative education advantage over much of the rest of Mexico has made it a leader, as UABC historian David Piñera noted while accepting a prestigious state award last month. Last month, in a brilliant talk at the Institute of the Americas, investment strategist Luis Maizel said that as long as Mexico is focusing on just providing the education (i.e., just meeting demand by building schools, etc., and not focusing on improving the quality of the education), Mexico is going to lag behind. His comments.