Home NewsNational International Education Day: Figures and challenges for Mexico

International Education Day: Figures and challenges for Mexico

by Yucatan Times
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Education in Mexico faces great challenges related to other structural problems of social inequality. The poorest population, rural and indigenous communities and children in hostile contexts are those who face the most barriers on the way to effectively exercising the right to education.

“I had never had a problem with not knowing English or not having the habit of reading , to be honest. Even movies can be seen in Spanish, always with minimal effort, you know?, but to get into UNAM, I gave it my all, I tried three times before staying and, almost, I dropped out. I was afraid of needing English, but then I realized that even when it came to doing research I was behind compared to my classmates,” Sara Carillo tells El Economista .

Sara Carillo entered the Faculty of Law at UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) in 2016 and continues to fight to finish her credits and graduate .

In addition to having complications in accrediting the second language, a basic requirement for a degree, Carrillo says he has faced obstacles in carrying out research work, reading at the pace of classes, and submitting projects in a timely manner. “I think they are skills that one develops earlier, in primary school, especially,” she says.

Basic education – which integrates preschool, primary and secondary – serves almost 25 million children and adolescents in Mexico and is one of the social areas with the greatest inequality and stagnation. Furthermore, the group of students attending these first years of school life was the hardest hit by the confinements during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those skills that Sara Carrillo talks about are evaluated, with global parameters, in the PISA tests (Program for International Student Assessment) promoted by the OECD. For the 2022 fiscal year, it was observed that Mexico lowered grades in all areas of study , even reaching levels not seen more than a decade ago.

In 2022, Mexico fell 14 points in average performance in mathematics , nine points in science and five points in reading comprehension compared to the previous measurement in 2018. Not even 1% of basic education students are outstanding, a significantly low level if compared to similar economies that had between 7 and 9% of their students with outstanding results.

But Mexico not only has very few outstanding students, it also has many who do not meet the minimum competencies for their academic degree: 66% of the students performed below the minimum required in mathematics, which implies that they are unable to interpret and recognize , without direct instructions, mathematically a simple situation such as comparing distances between alternative routes or converting prices between different currencies.

51%, half, of the students did not show skills to make correct explanations of familiar scientific phenomena , nor to identify, in simple cases, whether a conclusion is valid based on the data provided.

For its part, in the area of ​​reading comprehension , it was observed that 47% of students in Mexico are unable to find the main idea in a text of moderate length, find information based on explicit criteria, or reflect on the purpose and form of the texts. texts.

“It’s a bit strange, isn’t it, because you think that knowing how to read is knowing the letters and associating them with something, but no. I have struggled with that, sometimes I had to read a page three or four times to understand it. In the end, Law (the degree) is about that, knowing how to read,” says Sara, laughing.

Learning English , the language in which most educational texts and professional documents in the world are written, also fell slightly. In 2022, Mexico was ranked 89th out of 113 countries in English proficiency, according to the English Proficiency Index, prepared by Education First (EF).

Although the decline in student skills is a global trend, in Mexico it has been more profound. Persistent gaps in regional, income and gender inequality hinder the advancement of education in Mexico, and budget cuts have been observed in recent years.

Why can’t students improve their academic performance?

Attending school, getting good grades, being on the honor roll, finishing the year and continuing to study continuously is almost impossible for many children, adolescents and young people in the country. Although education is a right , there is still a long way to go to effectively access it.

Educational availability is limited in many regions, in many cases education is inaccessible, other students face economic deprivation, do not have quality food, suffer from family violence or develop in hostile contexts. Here are some figures that show the gaps and challenges in education:*

  • On a national scale, the average rate of years of study is 10.3, which implies studying primary, secondary and just one year of high school.
  • In some urban localities the schooling rate is 12 years, on average, while in some poor municipalities it falls to 7 years.
  • At least 2 out of every 10 students in Mexico present educational lag, which means that they do not attend the educational level appropriate to their age.
  • The educational gap in decile I (the poorest) is almost 30 points greater than in decile X (the richest)
  • Students’ socioeconomic status accounts for about 10% of the variation in student performance.
  • 37% of young people between 15 and 21 years old who have completed secondary school do not attend upper secondary education units (preparatory or high school)
  • Only 3 out of 10 basic education students in extreme poverty receive a scholarship
  • Nearly 1.5 million basic education students face excessive travel times to educational institutions
  • 22% of high school students in Mexico take more than an hour to get to their schools
  • The availability of upper secondary education units is reduced by almost half in rural areas; 40% of students in this grade take more than an hour to get to their schools
  • 2 out of every 10 primary and secondary school students do not have basic furniture in their schools, for high school the figure rises to 7 out of 10
  • About 3% of academic institutions do not have toilets
  • Only 23% of basic education schools have adequate infrastructure
  • Upper secondary education is where the most students drop out; 9 out of every 100 enrolled leave school before the end of the school year
  • Between 25 and 30% of students who drop out of high school do so due to lack of economic resources
  • For women, in addition to money, other factors for dropping out of school are marriage, pregnancy or the need for care at home.
  • 1 in 4 students say they feel alone or like a stranger at school
  • 19% of women and 17% of men in basic education are victims of bullying or harassment at school
  • In 2023 the functional public budget for education fell to its lowest level in a decade
  • The resources allocated to education are equivalent to just 3% of the national GDP

“I think it is very important to focus on that, on primary education , where you learn the most or, as in my case, where the opportunity to learn is gone and you have to catch up later. That’s why many people leave it, because it’s not easy to learn what it is when you’re six or nine years old,” adds Carrillo.

Effective access to education is essential for closing inequalities , for social and economic mobility, for access to income independence and decent work.

Data compiled with information from Coneval (National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy), Inegi (National Institute of Statistics and Geography), the PISA 2022 Test of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the Ministry of Public Education, the ENAPE (National Survey on School Access and Permanence) 2021 and the SHCP (Secretary of Finance and Public Credit).

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