The attacks on science and higher education by López Obrador’s government are not just a matter of discourse.
(CDMX – La Silla Rota) – The pressure and suspicion that the administration of the 4T imprints against educational centers also passes through the Federal Expenditure Budget and without offering a solution to their long-standing problems. Andrés Manuel López Obrador has criticized various institutions of higher education in the country on at least eight occasions, describing them as “neoliberal” or “right-wing.”
Specialists consulted by La Silla Rota expressed their concern about what is happening in Mexican academia, which constantly has to defend itself from the attacks of the government, one that also does not offer them a strategy to solve the problems they face.
The first criticism, launched from the pulpit of AMLO’s morning show on October 21, was against the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), when, speaking of what past administrations did, the president assured that the institution “lost its essence and became “neoliberal.”
While this was happening with the UNAM, the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) crisis broke out, and López Obrador questioned if the CIDE was “as right-wing as the UNAM,” answered in the affirmative.
While the crisis at CIDE worsened, another problem broke out at the National School of Anthropology and History. Then, López Obrador lashed out at another educational institution, only private, El Tecnológico de Monterrey.
During his campaign for the presidency of Mexico, Lopez Obrador promised to strengthen the quality of free public education. But, unfortunately, that has not happened, quite the contrary. Gilberto García Niebla, the former Undersecretary of Basic Education in the Ministry of Public Education tells the story in his most recent book “La regresión educativa. La hostilidad de la 4T contra la ilustración” (Grijalbo 2021).
Guevara Niebla writes that education is not part of the priority programs of the National Executive, as AMLO promised during his presidential campaign.
Roberto Rodriguez, a researcher at the Institute of Social Research of the UNAM, expressed in an interview with La Silla Rota that there is concern among the academic community about these attacks, more when the government is not solving problems of the present.
He pointed out that there is also a concern because the current project for higher education is not producing the expected results of improving quality, coverage, and free education.
In November 2018, the National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ANUIES) called on federal authorities to provide financial certainty to all higher education institutions. It was the last month of Enrique Peña Nieto’s government.
At the end of September 2018, the transition team of the Undersecretary of Expenditures of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) informed the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) they could eliminate 70 % of the budget programs.
In the budget for higher education, it was necessary to make rectification in the subsidy, since it was the same proposed amount as in the previous year, without considering inflation; due to this, the budget decreased by 1,714 million pesos in real terms, concerning the budget approved for 2018.
This was equivalent to an actual reduction of 5.7%. The UNAM received a decrease of 1.23 billion pesos, which represented a reduction of 6.3%; the UAM 290 million pesos, equivalent to 7.7% less; and the IPN 168 million pesos, 4.7% less.
For 2021, the PEF considered an expenditure for the entire education sector of 836,400 million pesos, which meant zero growth in real terms, concerning the Federal Expenditure Budget (PEF) 2020 and a drop of 1.3 %, when compared to the education expenditure exercised in 2019.
For 2022, 96 thousand 585.2 million pesos represent an increase of 4.4 %, concerning 2021, as established in the PEF 2022. However, the increase only guarantees that it will cover inflation.
The academic sector faces a tense environment as they have to develop their functions and at the same time defend their work.
In an interview, Alma Maldonado, a researcher at CINVESTAV, said: “Now we have to spend a lot of time defending ourselves… There have been many conflicts. For example, since the first days of government, there has been an attack on higher education institutions and research centers, which has had to do with a discursive attack that if we are privileged, we do not address national problems, etcetera”.
López Obrador’s attacks are against educational institutions and the scientific sector, one of the most affected during AMLO’s administration. There have been persecution, hostility, and ill-treatment of scientists, budget cuts, the disappearance of trusts, modifications to regulations, among other things.
The Yucatan Times
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