The Mexican Constitution, established in 1917, outlined the necessity for public education, creating a definitive forum for addressing the educational needs of the country at the beginning of the century (Althaus 1). Though the Constitution addressed the issue of education, it did not provide a directive for promoting educational systems, and Mexico has had to address the difficult problem of providing an educational system for hundreds of different indigenous languages and cultures (Improving 1). Though the Mexican governments of the last two decades have attempted to address educational reform, there are a number of difficulties that have presented themselves, including a growing school-aged population and the issues of language and culture, which have prevented any major widespread changes to take hold. As for the United States, the American education is hard to single out. The United States does not have a national school system; so a single school draws resources from several different public and private institutions (USIA 1).
Mexico’s current educational system is one of free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 14 (Saleem). In order to provide for the requirements of this educational system, the Mexican government has had to focus on social infrastructures in rural as well as urban communities in order to support the national programs. Mexico has been definitively more successful in implementing educational reforms in urban settings, especially in constantly increasing low-income urban areas. But over the past two decades, the focus has been on bringing primary schools to even the most isolated villages. Nearly ninety percent of the students in America attend public elementary and secondary schools. All states require young adults to attend school. Although the age limit may vary, most states require attendance until the age of 16, and some states until the age of 18. Every child in America will receive a minimum of eleven years of education regardless of their sex, race, religion, learning problems, physical handicaps, ability to speak English, citizenship, or status of immigrant (USIA 1-2).
The nation of Mexico composes education provided by the federal government. The government spends approximately 25.3 percent of its budget on education. Education is divided into four different levels; the first two sections are mandatory which includes primary school that holds grades one to six, and secondary school that are grades seven to nine (Educational 1). School attendance through sixth grade was obligatory until 1993, now children are required by law to complete the entire nine years of education. In larger cities students must past an entrance exam before advancing to the next grade (Althaus 2).
Then a student can go to either college prep school for three more years or to a vocational school which he or she can learn a skill or trade. Then finally comes the university level, this section is qualified for students that have graduated from either a preparatory or vocational school. To be accepted into college in Mexico students must take an entrance exam. State colleges and universities charge Mexican citizens an ostensible tuition, although some charge more. Private colleges are not superior to the public schools but are more expensive (Educational 1).
In the past two decades Mexico’s educational system has made major strides to improve their average of schooling years. “In 1970, a child received an average of four years of schooling. By 1990, the average was six to seven years” (Althaus 1). “‘In 1960, 5 million schoolchildren enrolled in Mexico’s public school system’, says educator Guevara. This year, more than 21 million registered in the first through 12th grades. More than 14.5 million children go to primary school, and another .5 million attend junior high” (Althaus 2).
In 1989 President George Bush and the governors of all 50 states gave the movement to reform American education a new impetus when they set six goals to be achieved by the year 2000: That all children will start school ready to learn; that 90 percent of all high school students will graduate; that all students will achieve competence in core subjects at certain key points in their progress; that American students will be first in the world in math and science achievement; that every American adult will be literate and have the skills to function as a citizen and a worker; That all schools will be free of drugs and violence and offer a disciplined environment that is conducive to learning. (USIA 3)
The normality’s of education as well as the planning, programming, and selecting the content were the responsibility of the Mexican government. The intention and educational decisions made by this central organ were standardized for all the children and were to be equally applied throughout the entire nation. For many years Mexican education was prearranged, synchronized, directed, and supervised by a central educational agency located in Mexico City (Erdmann 136).
The management and control of the public as well as private educational sectors did not allow for any individual accommodations; therefore, children who differed from the majority in any way were not offered opportunities in general education settings. Teaching principles and materials were used regardless of the location, population, ethnic and cultural values, and regional particularities. Private schools were allowed to teach another language, only after the principles and mandates imposed by the board of education (Erdmann 136).
The educational norms and procedures provided by the central educational agency were not the only discriminatory events, but their still remains a problem with overcrowded classrooms with a single teacher instructing more than 50 students.
In the last few years, the Mexican Ministry of Public Education has openly recognized the following four educational problems as priorities: The greater demand for education in relation to nationwide availability; the uneven quality of education among different regions in the country; the number of children who fail to learn appropriately and who, as a result, are retained in the same grade at then end of each school year; the number of children who drop out of school before finishing their elementary-school education. (Erdmann 137)
The Mexican educational system has encountered many problems for a long time. These unresolved issues prevail in spite of the enactment of the general education law and present a challenge to the successful implementation of the new law. Currently the educational decentralization law gave way for Mexican states to have the power to control their on educational plans, programs, and select their on contents according to their students needs. In addition, American schools have encountered problems. “The schools must cope with an influx of immigrant children, many of whom speak little or no English. The schools must make sure that students develop basic skills for the job market, and they must consider the needs of nontraditional students, such as teen-age mothers” (USIA 4).
In conclusion, Education is a dynamic field in both the United States and in Mexico (Erdmann 135). The United States has mandated inclusive education since 1975, and 18 years later Mexico took the same position with the new education law of 1993. “For Mexico, a country that has gone through three profound economic crises in the last twenty years and has experiences a substantial increase in its population, the challenge to provide appropriate education for all of its children has become and enormous task” (Erdmann 144).
Althaus, Dudley. 1995. Twilight’s Children. Houston Chroncicle: 1-3.
The Educational System. http://www.isep.org/handbooks/mexico/mexico.htm.: 1-2.
Improving Rural Primary Education: the Mexican Experience.
Reich-Erdmann, Georgina. 1998. Educational Opportunities For Children With
Disabilities. Ebscohost: 135-46.
Saleem. El-Hajj Malik. http://www/csudh.edu/global_options/375Students
USIA: Portrait of the USA, ch.6.