In addition to the uncertainty regarding the use of new textbooks, around 25 million students in elementary and secondary education in both public and private schools across the country are returning to school today with other challenges ahead.
The environment that elementary and secondary students will face in the 2023-2024 school year is marked by issues stemming from the pandemic, such as educational lag, the risk of dropping out, mental health alerts, and even the persistent sale of junk food in schools.
All of this, under the federal government’s inability to provide solutions to these problems, according to Juan Martín Pérez, Coordinator of the Tejiendo Redes Infancia initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean.
In an interview with Excélsior, the specialist affirmed that this return to school is accompanied by significant challenges, as after families, schools are the most important places for socialization and the development of identity and skills in minors.
However, he added, topics like the pandemic’s effects and confinement have ignored international calls. “We are talking about a year and a half after returning from the pandemic and three years since it started, without any targeted public policy for 25 million students, or 30 million if we include university students,” he stated.
A major concern is the increase in suicides in recent years, especially after the pandemic. “And we continue without any type of planning or response to it. We also have reports of a significant increase in anxiety, depression, and psychiatric disorders,” he warned.
Another related problem is school dropout due to economic factors, primarily affecting teenagers aged 15 to 17 who fail to transition from secondary to high school. “Unfortunately, we still lack a program or public policy to prevent school dropout,” he said.
For Juan Martín Pérez, another factor is the persistence of educational lag. Regarding this, he noted that errors and inaccuracies in the new free textbooks are just symptoms of the current state of the education system in Mexico.
The specialist recalled that in recent years, the performance of UNAM entrance exam candidates has been on the decline.
All the debate surrounding textbooks, which may not even be used, will not help overcome this educational lag, he added.
Another challenge related to textbooks is the fact that eight out of ten children in the country already use mobile devices. “We cannot imagine the educational system after the pandemic, in a face-to-face logic, not taking into account their digital life. The central issue remains with the children of this millennium and their needs, which require an educational system that is close to them,” he argued.
Additionally, childhood perspectives are not being heard and are not considered a priority, as mandated by law. Consequently, any initiative made will likely be a failure because it is not incorporating or recognizing these children of the millennium.