Education in Latin America

Four Big Ideas for Understanding Education Reform in Mexico

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  1. Quality education is the national goal which leverages all other national goals. The Federal Government established overarching goals to be reached in the current administration (2012-2018):
  • Mexico at peace
  • Inclusive Mexico
  • Mexico with quality education
  • Prosperous Mexico
  • Mexico with global responsibility

Of all these goals, success in securing quality education can apply leverage to help reach the others. That’s why it’s so important. In addition to academic content and skills, students in schools have to learn attitudes. Respect for others, teamwork, positive leadership, collaboration and responsible citizenship are fundamental in becoming a more peaceful and inclusive nation. When children feel safe, valued and cared for, they also learn better.


  1. Education Reform is oriented toward greater participation and relevance of Mexico in the global political and economic system. Achievement of Mexican students on the PISA tests, administered in 2012 to children in 65 OECD member nations, put them in 53rd place, with average scores well below international averages. Mexico must make a quantum leap in education in order to increase the capacity of its human resources to create greater global responsibility and competitiveness as a basis for prosperity in the long run.


  1. The federal government has to first take control and then later give it up to those who prove themselves to be effective at promoting student learning. In 1992, the federal government decentralized control over education to the states. The different state governments mostly handed control over to teachers’ unions, who looked for ways to further their own political interests while largely ignoring the right of learners to a quality education.


The Mexican education reform law of 2012 calls for a return of certain powers to the central government, especially control over teacher payroll and requirements for entering the profession as well as competing for and establishing permanence in a teaching position. The purpose of the education budget is not to provide jobs for more Mexicans, but to facilitate the learning of those persons, children and adults, who go to school in hopes of improving their quality of life.

While political control is necessary for pushing changes forward, federal education authorities must establish and strengthen a system based on merit (effectiveness in in promoting student learning) and not on political loyalty. This would be a giant step toward a more inclusive and transparent Mexico.


4. Without quality evaluation, there’s no quality education. Evaluation is grounded in reflection on the educational practice of teachers, school administrators, parents and students. It is the basis for developing a culture of continuous improvement so that opportunities can be identified in every school and teaching career and strategies adopted to consolidate advancements in student learning. Performance evaluation of teachers and students is what allows improvement of educational quality. It helps educators to understand how far we are from where we want to be (the difference between “what is” and “what should be”), set goals and measure progress toward them. That’s the way to get closer, not only to a quality education for all Mexican students, but to a more peaceful, prosperous, responsible and inclusive Mexico.

Author: ejspin

He sido Director General de Colegios Internacionales en Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay y Venezuela y he participado en reforma educativa en todos estos paises. Middle School Principal en Estados Unidos. Doctorado en Liderazgo Educativo. Actualmente vivo en México.

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