Mexico – education sector trends and opportunities

In our fifth series of blog posts, we are introducing education sector trends and opportunities, continuing with Mexico.

Education is one of 11 reforms in the so-called Pact for Mexico, announced in December 2012, which aims at making Mexico more competitive. Education spending has increased in recent years from 3,66% in 1999 to reach 5,15% of GDP according to the latest statistics from 2011 as found in World Bank and UNESCO sites. It has a literacy rate of over 98% in 2012 as per UNICEF.

Mexico ranked 53rd out of 65 countries in PISA in 2012, second best in Latin America after Chile, and has been top 10 improvers in Maths from 2000 to 2012 according to World Bank. But despite this improvement, less than fifth of the Mexican students performed adequately in Maths in the above quoted PISA study. Private schools do better but also here there is a need to improve, as the richest children in Mexico do worse than the poorest in Canada according to Economist report from 2015.

In order to modernise the education system, the President Peña Nieto announced this previously mentioned, controversial education reform in 2013, which aimed at improving the quality of education by implementing tests for the teachers and centralise payment of salaries at federal level, as previously you could inherit teacherhood and still teacher graduates are promised jobs for life in spite of their performance. Since the announcement, the teachers unions (such as the national union SNTE) have organised an array of protests across the country and the local teachers’ union in southern state of Oaxaca, CNTE, has used aggressive measures to counter the reform, only recently culminating to death of 9 people in a clash in June this year in Oaxaca according to Reuters. The teachers especially in the rural areas are opposed to the reform, as they claim that the tests aren’t well designed and not taking into account teaching methods or the most pressing needs such as electricity in rural areas.

Mexico needs to focus on improving student learning achievement and teacher training, and with the increasing mobile internet connection, opportunities exists in mobile education games and interactive classroom solutions. However, it still remains to be seen how the implementation of the educational reform proceeds due to the strong resistance from the teacher unions.

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