Some interesting facts about education in Mexico

Reuters had an interesting Factbox-article about Mexico last wednesday, regarding its economics and educational system.

Let’s have a look at something economical:

– Mexico is the world’s 14th largest economy.
– Mexico is predicted to become the world’s eighth biggest by 2050 by some experts.

That may sound suprising to some, especially if we think about the educational situation and concerning this, the article really has some shocking numbers, which quote in edited form:

– Mexico spends about 5% of gross domestic product on education, but corruption means the money does not translate into real gains in the quality of education.
– The number of Mexican students has surged to 32 million from 3 million in 1950 as the country’s population exploded.
– Most young children attend primary school but only 62% reach secondary school. At secondary level about half of students drop out and only a quarter reach higher education.
– Around 45% of Mexicans finish secondary school. (USA: about 75% of U.S. students graduate from high school on time with a regular diploma)
– Mexicans read less than three books a year on average, a product of low education levels and poverty, studies show.
– Mexican students perform badly in the education tests run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that measures standards in 65 industrialized countries. In the last study published in December, Mexican 15-year-olds came 46th in reading, 49th in mathematics and 51st in science.
– Mexico’s performance in the OECD’s education rankings have in fact improved slightly in recent years and President Felipe Calderon has tried to bring in education reforms, such as ending the practice of the selling of teachers’ posts. But experts say the progress is too slow to have a big impact.

To get another approach to the educational situation, we should have a look at a second article of Reuters.

“Mexicans point the finger of blame at the lifetime president of the National Teachers’ Union, Elba Esther Gordillo, a wealthy 66-year-old who one prominent political analyst once called the ‘Darth Vader of Mexico.'”

Relevant picture of Darth Vader, Dia-de-los-Muertos-Style
source: John Karpinsky on

The article continues:
“For many Mexicans, Gordillo is a symbol of the problems Mexico has yet to resolve a decade after ending 71 years of one-party rule, when the world’s No. 7 oil exporter was run via a system of patronage with little regard for the rule of law.”

Actual picture of Elba Esther Gordillo

From what there is to read about her – and both the article and her Wikipedia entry are very telling – she seems to be a very powerful, disputed and illustrious figure in Mexican politics. They also make clear, why she is called the Mexican Darth Vader – she reigns a $60 Million Dollar empire all by herself with no intention to share power. Further reading is advised and we leave this topic for now.

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