Education in MexicoThe country of Mexico, known in official circles as the United Mexican States, is a federal republic located in the far southern portion of the North American continent. The sovereign nation shares borders with the United States to the north; Guatemala, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast; the Gulf of Mexico to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west. Encompassing roughly 760,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers), Mexico is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of over 113 million, it is the eleventh most-populous and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most populous country in Latin America. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, the capital city—Mexico City.
Mexico has one of the world's largest economies; it is the tenth largest oil producer in the world, the largest silver producer in the world and is considered both a regional power and middle power. Additionally, Mexico was the first Latin American country to become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD (since 1994), and is considered an upper-middle income country by the World Bank. Mexico is considered a newly industrialized country and an emerging power. It has the 14th largest nominal GDP and the tenth largest GDP by purchasing power parity. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, especially the United States of America.
Much of the reason for Mexico’s recent economic success can be attributed to its improving system of education, including its higher education system. In the following article we will discuss, in some detail, Mexico’s system of education, including its history, structure, typical curriculum and the various types of institutions that comprise it.
History of Education in Mexico
Education in Mexico is strongly linked to the country’s tumultuous history and the various ethnic and class divisions present in the country; divisions that include the Amerindians, Spanish aristocrats, criollos (a social class comprising the locally born people of pure Spanish ancestry), peons, and mestizos (those of mixed Amerindian and European—mostly Spanish—blood). Without question, the Catholic Church—a religion that arrived in the region with the Spanish colonists—played a major role in Mexican education during the Colonial era, which extended from first European contact in the early sixteenth century until the Mexican revolution. This period of Mexican history began when the Spanish governor of Cuba, Diego de Velázquez, sent expeditions to the Mexican mainland via the Yucatán Peninsula. The first Spaniards arrived in 1517 and a year later reached the Gulf coast along what is now Veracruz. Hernán Cortez then landed in 1519 with eleven ships and 550 men and succeeded in conquering the Aztecs in three years. Once the Aztec leader Montezuma II was captured, Cortez named this land "New Spain."
Spain, like most of the other major European colonial powers in what is now North America, provided education almost exclusively for the ruling Aristocracy. The traditional means of education used by the indigenous peoples were all but destroyed by the Spanish, though certain elements of those beliefs and methods survived for many more years. In the Spanish colonies, including Mexico, educational programs and services were provided by the Roman Catholic Church; the upper class and clergy were educated in the classics, while the peons and mestizos remained illiterate. The Mayan and Aztec tribes had their own traditional ways of education, an ethno-methodological process that was primarily oral, with stories and legends passed from one generation to the next.
The population of the indigenous Amerindians in what is now central Mexico at the time of Spanish colonization was estimated to be around 25 million or more. However, physical genocide, wars, slavery, and disease reduced these numbers to a mere 1 million by the seventeenth century. Most Indians continued their informal verbal educational heritage and lived on pueblos, while their lower-class mestizo counterparts resided on ejidos (communal land holdings). Despite the challenges faced by the Amerindians, their native culture, including their language and traditional ways, remained largely intact, with many attributes incorporated into the growing mestizo population.
Cautious of the influence of Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, the local Spanish attempted to establish their own plantation form of government in Mexico, one that exploited both the Indians and peasants. The Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish crown, however, preferred to establish a colonial form of feudal privilege and religious dissent. Clearly, the Catholic Church was intent on cultural genocide, often building their churches on sacred sites of the aboriginal idols. The Indians revolted unsuccessfully in 1541 in the Mixton War but did manage to draw attention to their plight under the encomienda feudal system.
Catholic Missions and monasteries were erected over time in those areas where the indigenous populations dwelled. Rural estates called haciendas surrounded these missions, and monasteries became self-sufficient centers of political and economic power. Within this system, Franciscan priests provided the early education of the Indians and mestizo peasants, which consisted mainly of instruction in Catholicism. The Jesuits and Augustinians, on the other hand, provided the more classical education for Spanish emigrants. Vasco de Quiroga, a liberal Catholic judge and Bishop, is credited with starting the first school for the natives, the hospital-school of Santa Fe established on the outskirts of Mexico City in 1531.
Viceroy Mendoza and Bishop Zumárraga established another Indian school, the School of Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, in 1536. However, with a focus on Latin, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, music, and native medicine, the school's student body changed to comprise mainly the Spanish privileged class.
In the year 1547, the Orphanage School of San Juan was opened for the education of both Indian and mestizo youth—male and female. The following year, the Caridad School was established for orphaned mestizos. These two institutions marked the beginning of what would later be a number of schools designed to provide at least limited education for female peasant youth. If nothing else, the various educational efforts of the Catholic Church did help the Amerindian populations better understand the Spanish language and customs. However, this new comprehension among the natives began to alarm the Spanish leadership, who feared that continued formal education would lead to rebellion.
During this same era, the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico opened in 1553, making it the first university in the New World. Its main purpose was to educate the criollos for the Catholic clergy. During the colonial period, nearly 30,000 bachelor’s degrees and more than 1,000 masters and doctorates were awarded, providing many of New Spain's educated elite.
Schools such as these were more the exception than the rule in Mexico, and by 1842, the time of the public school movement in the United States, less than one percent of the Mexican population was educated and only about 33 percent of education was free. Schools and education existed primarily to serve the wealthy. The ensuing revolutions and civil wars between the conservatives (pro-Catholic, elitists) and liberals (anti-clericalists, reformers) did much to destroy the schools that did exist.
Under Mexico’s haciendas system, a number of major urban centers began to emerge—including Puebla, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. Universities were soon established within these major urban trade centers, again for the education of the white upper classes. By 1800, New Spain had about 6.5 million residents (with 18 percent being white, 60 percent Indian, and 21 percent mestizo).
The white educated class of Mexico now consisted mainly of native-born criollos, a people who in 1810 began to resent the influence of Spain and germinated the seeds of revolution. On February 24, 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain, and in 1822 it proclaimed its own Emperor, Agustín I, as the undisputed leader of the new empire. The empire was overthrown a year later, and Mexico emerged as a republic.
The resulting wars with imperialistic Anglo-Americans, first in Texas (1836) and then with the United States (1846 to 1848), eventually led to the loss of half of Mexico's territory (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 and Gadsden Purchase of 1853). A popular revolt by both educated criollos liberals and indigenous peasants began in 1855, a revolt that forced the dictator General Santa Anna from power, making the Catholic Church sell its land, and dissolving the ejidos. These actions did not produce the desired result of creating an educated middle-class. Instead, Mexico embarked on a new civil war (War of Reform, 1858-1861). It was during this war that conservatives sought foreign assistance from Napoleon III who attempted to establish a Mexican empire under the Austrian prince, Maximilian. The liberals, under the Indian leader, Benito Juárez, successfully drove the French and Catholic influence from Mexico in 1867. Juárez died before he could bring about the reforms he envisioned; reforms bent on improving the educational and economic opportunities for the peasants (Indians and mestizos). His battle to institute those changes was later fought by Emiliano Zapata in the south and the now well-known Pancho Villa in the north.
The revolution in Mexico resulted in educational and social benefits for all—benefits that were constitutionally guaranteed. These efforts finally produced a new constitution in 1917—one based on anticlericalism, land reform, nationalism, workers rights, and secular education. The hemisphere's first university, the Royal and Pontifical University, was renamed as the National Autonomous University of Mexico and became a multi-campus facility with institutions throughout Mexico. The new constitution provided greater powers to the federal government over education, including the structure and curriculum.
Religious, or parochial, schools were separated from public schools. Mexico was a federal republic composed of 31 states and a federal district with a president, elected for a single 6-year term, and a bicameral legislature. In 1921, a federal Secretariat of Public Education was created. At this time, a nationalistic theme was incorporated into all public schools in Mexico, a trend that continues today; this nationalistic theme was a major feature of the revolution and was designed to obviate the foreign epistemological theme of the Catholic schools.
Major changes occurred in Mexico in the years following the revolution and World War II, which liberated the mestizos and Indians from their rural haciendas and pueblos, allowing them to migrate to larger communities. Rural schools grew rapidly within these larger communities providing greater educational opportunities for all Mexicans regardless of ethnicity or social class. This increase in educational opportunities coincided with a significant reduction in the infant mortality rate, which dropped from 222 deaths per 1,000 in 1920 to roughly 100 per 1,000 by the middle of the 1940s.
When World War II broke out, Mexico again had to challenge outside influences, including the United States, fascist Germany, and the Soviet Union. Mexico ultimately sided with the Allied powers, providing both raw materials and human labor (braceros) to the United States during the war. Initially, these were agricultural workers, but by 1942 Mexico took steps to prepare its workers for industry forming the Camara Nacional de la Industria de Transformación. At war’s end, some 300,000 Mexicans had worked in 25 of the United States, opening the door for the current illegal migrant-worker market in North America.
In 1944 the Mexican Congress passed legislation opening the door to foreign participation—providing that Mexicans held a controlling stock in any mixed corporation. This led to the establishment of businesses called maquiladoras, most of which emerged along the U.S./Mexican frontier border. The maquiladoras, in turn, led to mass migration of mainly females from rural interior Mexico to the frontier borderland. Both these migrants and immigrants (both legal and illegal) became exposed to the U.S. school system, one which contrasted markedly from the basic ninth grade lower secondary education guaranteed to Mexican children and youth.
Post-World War II industrialization saw two major avenues of growth in Mexican education. One was in the direction of providing adequate training for the new industrial workers, while the other was a focus on higher education. Mexican leaders were so determined to transform Mexico—from rural isolation to an industrial powerhouse—that the revolutionary party changed its name in 1946 to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional or PRI; a party that held power in Mexico until the 2000 elections.
One of the chief projects of the institutionalized revolution era (1946-1958) was the construction of the new University City that was built to house the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Completed in 1952, the National University of Mexico sat on three square miles and was, at the time, one of the most modern structures in the world. However, beyond the fancy facade lay a deficit of instructional materials, including a near-empty library. Despite these shortfalls, an intellectual movement emerged in the country, a movement toward objective scholarship—especially in depicting the history of Mexico.
Between the years 1940 and 1951, the El Colegio de Mexico, the Escuela National de Antropologia e Historia, and the Instituto de Historia of the National University were all founded, leading to a series of academic conferences in both Mexico and the United States that led to a more accurate portrayal of Mexico. The conferences departed from the blatant partisan views once provided by the pro-revolutionary curricula of the 1920s and 1930s. These conferences began in Nuevo Leon in 1949 and continued in places such as Austin, Texas, in 1958; Oaxtepec, Morelos, in 1969; Santa Monica, California, in 1973; Patzcuaro, Michoacán, in 1977; Chicago, Illinois, in 1981; Oaxaca in 1985; San Diego, California, in 1989; and in Mexico City in 1994.
The educational efforts following the revolution did reduce illiteracy in Mexico from 77 percent in 1910 to less than 38 percent in 1960. However, due to the rapidly growing Mexican population, this (illiteracy) figure represented more than 13 million Mexicans; a figure many felt was excessive. In their attack on illiteracy, the PRI established a network of rural schools comprised of prefabricated buildings. The government provided these buildings while the communities provided the land and construction labor, thereby increasing the cohesiveness of the community and education, a process that continues to the present. Here, the teachers often become respected leaders within the rural communities, replacing the priests of the past.
The educational system embarked upon a uniform curriculum and the compulsory textbooks were selected by the federal government and were provided free to the students. As would be expected, this process was met with resistance from a number of sources—including the conservatives, the churches, and even liberals who felt that the standardization of curricula was a form of indoctrination that tended to exalt the PRI at the expense of other political parties.
Mass student protests and strikes disrupted Mexican higher education during the mid-to-late 1960s, virtually crippling the National University campuses. Federal troops were brought to the campuses to maintain order. The campuses erupted again in 1968 just prior to the Summer Olympics being held in Mexico. This time the protest met with violence, due mainly to the intervention of the grenadiers, the despised paramilitary riot police. In August 1968, demonstrations on the campuses of the National University and the National Polytechnic Institute were coordinated by the National Student Strike Committee, an organization similar to the American organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). On August 27, 1968, the National Student Strike Committee organized a half-million people—the largest, organized, antigovernment demonstration in Mexico.
With the Summer Olympics only a month away, President Diaz Ordaz cracked down on the student protesters, placing the Army on the campus of the National University and causing the university's rector to resign in protest. This round of student protests culminated in violence on October 2, 1968 at the Tres Culturas District of Tlatelolco. The Army and police crushed the protest by firing indiscriminately into the crowd of students; hundreds of people were killed, injured, or jailed.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, became effective on January 1, 1994, placing greater strains on Mexico's burgeoning educational system, as its basic public educational system lagged in structure and quality as compared to its new trading partners, Canada and the United States. NAFTA also curtailed the availability of free U.S. education for those Mexican families residing along the border frontier. Prior to 1996, hundreds of Mexican children and youth crossed the international border daily during the school year to attend public schools in the United States; schools that provided a free twelfth grade education, which was not available in Mexico, especially in the rural frontier towns. Since NAFTA, the 1996 U.S. Immigration and Nationalization Reform Act denied Mexican students F-1 visas, which in the past allowed these children and youth to cross the U.S./Mexican border to attend U.S. public schools. Now only those Mexican children who hold dual citizenship are afforded this luxury. These children, whose families reside in Mexico, were born in a U.S. hospital so they hold dual citizenship and, where tolerated, can attend public schools in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
In the years following the passage of NAFTA, the Mexican economy collapsed, greatly devaluating the peso against the U.S. dollar and forcing an end to the subsidized university system where tuition had been frozen since 1948. The tuition was raised overnight from a few cents per semester to the equivalent of $70.00 in 1999; this led to another massive student protest at the National Autonomous University, this time disrupting the classes of some 200,000 high school and college students. The Army and police again challenged the student strikers but with greater restraint this time due to the world attention NAFTA membership had afforded Mexico.
Now in the twenty-first century, the challenges to Mexico's educational needs continue, with rural Indian areas such as Chiapas receiving no schooling whatsoever. Naturally, now that Mexico plans to join the world economy, the country needs to augment its K-9 curriculum to meet that of other Western nations where a twelfth grade education is compulsory. In addition, because Mexico's post-World War II growth has resulted in a multicultural mix where 80 different languages are now spoken by citizens; these individuals now need to be accommodated by the public school system.
Education in Mexico Today: Preschool through Secondary Education
Education in Mexico is overseen and regulated by the Secretariat of Public Education. All education standards are set by this government Ministry at all levels, except in "autonomous" universities chartered by the government. Accreditation of private schools is accomplished by a mandatory approval and registration with this institution.
The 1917 Mexican Constitution provides that education should avoid privileges of religion (a departure from earlier education systems), and that one religion or its members may not be given preference in education over another. Religious instruction is prohibited in public schools; however, religious associations are free to maintain private schools, which receive no public funds. Proof of Mexican citizenship is required to attend public schools for free.
Like in most countries, the education system of Mexico includes a variety of levels, as determined by the age and proficiency of the student. These are:
- Preschool (Pre-escolar). Federally funded programs for children ages 4-5.
- Primary School (Primaria). Schools with grades 1-6 and at least one teacher per grade. This level also includes multi-grade classrooms (Multigrados)—one-room schools with one teacher for grades 1-6 or multi-grade schools with several teachers, each teaching more than one grade.
- Lower Secondary Schools (Secundarias). Schools that enroll most non-rural students, grades 7-9, including those who are college-bound. Students in this age range (12-15) may also attend Tecnicas, schools that provide vocational training for non-college-bound students, or Telesecundarias, rural schools offering a televised curriculum, which enroll a majority of rural students.
- Upper Secondary Schools. Upper secondary education, or high school, serves students in grades 10-12 (ages 15-18). This level includes both Preparatorias and Bachilleratos, schools for college-bound youth, where students must choose one of 4 professional areas: physical-mathematics, chemical-biological, economic-administrative, or humanities. This level also includes Tecnnologicas and Comercios, schools for students who have a particular vocational career in mind.
Nearly 7 out of 10 children ages 3-4 receive kindergarten education in Mexico, and although preschool education is not mandatory, it is an important part of basic education in the country. Most five-year-olds, roughly 83 percent, attend preschool. Aside from preschool education, many government agencies also offer nursery or day care services (guardería) for children younger than three years of age. At this level, parents and infants receive educational, health, and welfare services.
Students in Mexico attend primary school beginning at age 6—in grade one—and continue for 6 years until the close of grade 6. The median age for students in elementary school is between 6 and 11 years, but more than 1.2 million primary school children in Mexico, or 7.5 percent, are older than the age of 12. Approximately 70 percent of Mexican nationals 15 years and older have completed elementary school; however, there are 16 out of 31 states with graduation rates below the national average. For example, in the state of Chiapas, only 43.5 percent of the population 15 years of age and older have completed primary school.
Although there is little variation between males and females in terms of elementary or primary school completion (72 to 69 percent, respectively), females in this age bracket in the Chiapas region account for only 44 percent of those who have completed the 6 years of elementary school—9.5 percentage points below men.
Primary school in Mexico is offered in several modalities: general, bilingual-bicultural, community education, and adult education. During the 20 hours of classes per week, first and second grade pupils take courses in Spanish; mathematics; art; physical education; and “environmental knowledge,” which include courses in the natural sciences, history, geography, and civic education. From the third to the sixth grade, students continue taking the aforementioned courses, with the subject matter becoming increasingly more difficult with each passing year. The curriculum places a great emphasis on reading, writing, and oral expression. In the first two grades, children spend 45 percent of their collective class time studying Spanish, and from the third to the sixth grade, they spend 30 percent of their class time on this same subject. For more than 40 years, students in elementary school have been receiving free texts from the national government. The minimum grade for promotion from primary school is 6, based on a scale of 1 to 10.
Attendance at indigenous and community primary schools grew by one-third from 1990 to 2012. This type of education is offered in the poorest and most isolated regions of the country. Community education services are delivered in 95 percent of the 50,636 rural schools spread throughout Mexico. All indigenous schools receive community education services.
In Mexico there are a total of 72,650 preschools and 99,176 primary schools. There are 155,777 teachers engaged in preschool education, while 545,717 work in primary schools. In general, the rural sector tends to be less favored educationally than the urban centers—an analysis of school attendance by age groups in the year 2000 illustrated this phenomenon. School attendance for children aged 6 to 14 years (the compulsory ages) in communities of fewer than 15,000 people was 89 percent, while in localities of more than 15,000 inhabitants attendance was 95 percent. By comparison, schools serving students in the 15 to 19 age bracket saw attendance wane.
Secondary Education in Mexico
Secondary education in Mexico is divided into two distinct levels: lower secondary education, or secundaria, and upper secondary education. Since 1993 secundaria has been part of a student’s compulsory basic education. Lower secondary is structured into three grades, seventh, eighth and ninth, and is offered in several modalities, including general education, tele-secondary, and technical education. Lower secondary education is offered to students between the ages of 12 and 16 years who have completed elementary school. Students older than 16 years of age can obtain secundaria education by attending secondary school for workers or for adults, two of the other available modalities. There are currently over 29,000 lower secondary schools in Mexico, with 2,462,000 females and 2,608,000 males attending them. The teaching staff consists of 307,763 instructors. In 1997, the government began the distribution of free texts for this educational level in the most marginal areas of the country.
Like in the primary grades, the curriculum at the secondary level of education stresses the need to sharpen one’s Spanish language and written abilities. At the same time, mathematics is also given great attention. Secundaria students spend an average of five hours per week in language-related instruction and the same number of hours in math. Seventh graders, or those in their first year of lower secondary school, are also required to take a course entitled physics and chemistry. In the 8 and 9 grades, physics, chemistry, and biology are all taught as separate courses. A further emphasis in lower secondary education is put on the learning of a foreign language, usually English or French. Other courses include artistic expression and appreciation, physical education, and technological education.
Distance education at the secondary level is offered through telesecondary schools. This service is offered to children in rural areas in communities of fewer than 2,500 people or where lower secondary enrollment is too low to build a school. The system began in 1968, and it has been expanded to serve communities in several Central American countries and in U.S. border communities. In the 2012 school-year cycle, this type of education was serving over 1 million Mexican youths. The dropout rate is roughly 9.2 percent, while the graduation rate is an impressive 76.1 percent.
The second level of secondary education is upper secondary education; this level of education involves several options and is available to those who have completed compulsory education—grades 1-9. There are three subsystems in this category: general upper secondary, which includes open and distance upper secondary education; technical professional education, which trains qualified professionals in a variety of fields; and technological upper secondary, which offers the opportunity to obtain professional technician degrees and prepares students to continue on to higher education. General upper secondary education is offered through bachiller colleges (CB), preparatoria schools, science and humanities colleges (CCH), and incorporated bachilleratos (incorporated to a state or federal university).
Technical professional education can be obtained from the College of Professional Technical Education (CONALEP); State Institutes for Work training (ICATE, operated by state governments); State Colleges for Scientific and Technological Studies (CECyTE,); Centers for Industrial and Services Technological Studies (CETIS, coordinated by the federal government); Centers for Industrial and Services Technological Bachillerato (CBTIS, coordinated by the federal government); and the Nursing and Obstetrics School (ESEO, coordinated by the National Polytechnic Institute). Technological upper secondary education is offered by CETIS; CBTIS; Centers for Technical and Industrial Studies; CECyTE; Centers for Ocean Technological Studies (CETMar, coordinated by the federal government); Centers for Continental Water Studies (CETAC, coordinated by the federal government); Centers for Farming and Agricultural Technological Bachillerato (TA, coordinated by the federal government); and Centers for Forestry Technological Bachillerato (CBTF, coordinated by the federal government).
The upper secondary education structure has three cores: basic training, professional training, and work training. General basic training develops scientific, technical, and humanistic knowledge. Students are also taught research methodology and language mastery. Bachillerato institutions offer open upper secondary education. Originally designed to serve adults who were not able to continue with their education after lower secondary school, open upper secondary schools have increasingly become a popular alternative for young people aged 14 to 18. This service is free and completely financed by the federal and state governments. In 1995 states began administering this form of education. There are 22 centers located throughout 10 states, including Mexico City. The technical professional education is designed to prepare students to hold mid-level positions in the workplace, such as the supervision and control and evaluation of production processes. The intent of this subsystem of education is to meet school and labor demands at the regional and national levels. In these types of schools, students graduate as professional technicians, technical professionals, or basic-level technicians.
Technological upper secondary school is a type of education that affords students the unique opportunity to acquire both expertise in a given technological field and to learn the basic fundamentals offered by the bachillerato schools. Graduates of these institutions can enter the job market as professional technicians or continue with their higher education. This subsystem of upper secondary education enrolls roughly 3 million students. Enrollment in the general bachillerato accounts for 59 percent of the total number of students, while 13 percent are enrolled in technical professional schools and 28 percent attend technological bachillerato. In total, there are over 10,000 upper secondary schools with a teaching staff of roughly 200,000 instructors.
Certain public state universities in Mexico, as well as the National Autonomous University (UNAM) also offer upper secondary education. Currently there are 30 state universities that offer educational opportunities leading to the preparatoria (high school) diploma or associate's degree. Preparatorias are integral parts of the universities, giving students the skills they need to ultimately enter college.
Higher Education in Mexico
The higher education system in Mexico has improved dramatically in recent years, preparing students to enter the workforce in a variety of professional fields
There are currently five subsystems of higher education institutions in Mexico:
- Public universities
- Technological institutes
- Technological universities
- Private institutions
- Teacher training colleges
According to the National Association of Universities and Institutions of Higher Education, Mexico is home to approximately 220 universities. Of these, 45 are public institutions, where roughly 50 percent of the academic research in Mexico takes place. These universities enroll 52 percent of students pursuing undergraduate education and 48 percent of those pursuing graduate studies.
There are nearly 150 technological institutes offering higher education in Mexico. The government Ministry of Education (SEP) coordinates 102 of these, while state governments coordinate the remainder.
There are over 150 private universities in Mexico, including many that are owned and operated by the Catholic Church. Accreditation for these academic institutions is issued by SEP, state governments, or other public academic institutions authorized to accredit them. Private institutions of higher education have 27.6 percent of the undergraduate enrollment and 36.5 of the graduate enrollment in Mexico.
Teacher training colleges in Mexico offer bachelor degrees in preschool education, elementary school education, secundaria school education, special education, and physical education. Duration of studies varies from four to six years depending on the type of degree sought. There are currently over 220 public and 137 private schools of teacher education, enrolling roughly 12 percent of the student population seeking higher education degrees.
Admissions to all academic institutions of higher education require completion of upper secondary school. Many institutions also require admission exams, either for entry into the university or for participation in certain programs within the schools.
Academic organization in Mexico’s higher education institutions is by no means uniform. Some schools have adopted departmental forms of organization, but these are the exception rather than the rule. Duration of studies varies among academic institutions, depending on the level and type of program. Some organize their courses in semesters while others do so in quarters. Graduation requirements also vary depending on the type and level of studies. Most students have their knowledge tested through exams, written materials, and oral presentations. In the technological institutions, on-the-job performance, when appropriate, carries much weight in the accreditation of studies. Students can obtain professional degrees through different methods. Many institutions require written work (such as a thesis, dissertation, or monographic reports) for presentation before an examining panel. Also, students may be required to have reading comprehension of one or two languages aside from Spanish.