Most people worry about students skiving off class. But here in Mexico, it’s the teachers who are not attending school!
The first ever government census of schools in Mexico shows that 13% of all people registered on the schools’ payrolls do not turn up to work (see chart below).
That is 298,000 out of a total of 2.25m, divided among those who receive a paycheck but appear to be figments of someone’s imagination; who work somewhere else; who are on leave (often as union representatives); or who have quit, retired or died. Organisations that represent outraged parents call it the “theft of the century.”
Emilio Chauyffet, Mexico’s Education Minister, says the government will now comb through the data to see who among the missing it can stop paying. But it won’t be easy.
The teachers’ unions are strong and have long resisted efforts to make them more accountable to taxpayers. As an example of their obstinacy, particularly militant union members in three of Mexico’s poorest states wouldn’t let census-takers into more than a quarter of schools in Oaxaca and Michoacán; they only got into 41% in Chiapas.
Given the example set by the teachers, it is little wonder Mexican students score among the worst in education tests among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a set of rich and middle-income countries.
At least now the government has a better grip on who the teachers actually are, it can set about evaluating their abilities, which is the central plank of last year’s education reform.
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