A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

Mexican Senate approves constitutional change
to require high school education to be offered to all,
to be phased from 2012-13 to 2021-22 school years

The Mexican Senate voted 94-0 Tuesday to approve a constitutional reform to require that high school education be offered to all students. The bill differed slightly from the Chamber of Deputies' version and must be reconciled.
Story, El Universal. Story in Frontera.

Many students who want to attend high school are unable to get in because of limited space. Those students then must pay to attend private high schools, many of which are of inferior quality. In many cases, the students cannot even afford to attend the private schools.

Baja California and other states have been building new high schools to try to meet up with demand. One new such school is the Cobach El Florido.

The Constitution currently requires the state to provide preschool, primary and junior high education. The change also would require the state to provide high-school education to those who never finished high school but want to. The requirements would be phased from the 2012-13 to 2021-22 school years; funding also would be phased in, Sen. Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said. Sen. Ricardo Monreal of the Workers Party said 300,000 students did not get into high school this year because they did not score high enough on their entry exams. Universal said he was concerned about the funding method and also said too many youths shut out of high school and legitimate jobs have gone to work for drug cartels.

Meanwhile, Carlos Fernández-Vega, in a column in La Jornada, writes that the Calderón administration is not putting its money where its mouth is on education, except in the case of high schools. Fernández-Vega writes that in the proposed federal budget for next year, the increase in what he said was in real spending for basic education is 1.5% and 7.7% for high school. He said the budget calls for a decrease in undergraduate education spending of 1.7% and postgraduate education of 6.3%, something he said is not likely to happen once the budget goes through Congress.

Still, in the past decade, Mexico has increased by nearly 1% the percentage of gross national product it dedicates to education. The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation said that in 2009, the percentage of Mexican GDP going to education had risen to 5.8%, close to the 6.1% average for OECD countries. Story, El Universal.
However, in dollar terms, Mexico lags far behind other OECD countries: it spends $2,284 per student, taking into account all educational levels, whereas the average for OECD countries is $8,169, according to a story in Frontera on Sunday. One figure perhaps gives a clue why the budget proposal would give less to higher education next year: Mexico's spending on higher education is 3.3 times higher than what it spends on K-12 education, the greatest difference in any OECD country except for Brazil, which spends 5.4 times more on higher education than on basic education.