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Uphill battle for Mexican schools
Chelcey Adami -
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September 26, 2011
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Uphill battle for Mexican schools
The educational system in Mexico shares some key similarities and differences with its northern counterparts, according to Mexicali’s CETYS University President Fernando León-García.

Although structured slightly differently, Mexico’s educational system also has 12 pre-collegiate years. A degree from a college or university also takes four years, but education at that level in Mexico is typically more focused or specialized from the beginning.

Students in the U.S. tend to begin higher education in a more general style and then specialize later.

León-García said studies show that U.S. students usually have at least 13 years of school, meaning at least one year of college, while Mexican students usually have had nine years of college.

“In Mexico, there’s a long way to go in terms of people who have school beyond high school,” León-García said.

Both educational school systems are falling behind other countries such as China and Finland, he said.

In both countries, most pre-collegiate school is compulsory and legally pushed for education.

“Both have the intention, but the amount of resources and quality of resources in the U.S. are way beyond what Mexico can and has spent so far,” he said.

While a larger percentage of the federal and state budget of Baja California is spent on education versus what occurs in the states, it’s still working with lower-quality resources, León-García further explained.

León-García said there’s been a conservative effort on part of the federal government to make sure that funds received “reflect what the universities are actually doing and performing.”

In Baja California public universities, the “more direct type of funding has steered a greater focus on quality,” he said.

On the private side, the schools are structuring a similar quality management system to the U.S., which is more self-regulatory.

He said most people are unaware that two of the top five institutions of Mexico in their own class are in Mexicali.

The Universidad Autónoma de Baja California is one of the top five public universities in Mexico and CETYS University is one of the top five pilot nonprofit institutions.

He said that schools on the border need to “pay greater attention to the quality of education that we offer.”

“If you’re good, you must be good not on one side of the border but both sides of the border,” he said.

He said that increasingly graduates with international experience are being sought after and hired more.

Many people living in Mexico that send their children to the states for education are doing so “because there’s a belief that there’s a value in learning English and being bicultural,” León-García said.

It’s a belief more common in Europe where students often know at least three languages, he explain, but not as widespread in the states.

He said that while this may change as the U.S. priority for funding education falls, the rest of the world still looks to the U.S. for quality and innovation in education.

In kindergarten through high school, Mexico still needs to improve its resources, qualifications and professional development of faculty.

For education beyond high school, he said Mexico needs to have a more widespread system of quality management with a higher percent of faculty with graduate level qualifications.

“It’s still an uphill battle, but the important thing to remember is anything we do, we do it with quality in mind while satisfying not only locally, but satisfying the global challenges,” he said.

+ Wexico

Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

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