The children in Mexico are expected to attend
compulsory preschool for three years before starting
primary school at the age of six. According to a 2013
decision, compulsory schooling in the regular school is
being extended from nine to twelve years, but it is
expected to be delayed before it is fully implemented.
Despite major investments in education since the 1990s,
the quality of teaching is often poor.
A majority of Mexican children attend preschool,
almost all of them attend the first six school years and
most also the three-year equivalent high school. Around
half of the young people also complete upper secondary
school, which is divided into vocational and college
preparatory classes. The exceptions are mainly found
among indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups.
To increase schooling for these groups, the government
has introduced programs with scholarships, school
transfers and contributions to school materials.
Country facts of Mexico, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
Success has been great in getting children to go to
school, but the study results are often poor. Criticism
has been directed at the fact that an excessive share of
resources goes to teacher salaries and not to premises
The vast majority of students attend state schools
that are free. The schools work in shifts, the children
go either in the morning or in the afternoon. Absence is
high, many attend classes or drop out completely.
When Enrique Peña Nieto was elected President in
2012, a comprehensive education reform was on the
program, aimed at improving education and creating a
more equitable and modern school. It also included plans
to eradicate corruption in the teachers' unions, which
governed employment. Many teachers in Mexico bought or
inherited their jobs, and it was not uncommon for them
to lack education themselves. Compulsory tests were
introduced for all teachers with independent evaluations
and promises of salary lift and career depending on
results. A "teacher census" - the first ever - showed
that tens of thousands of teacher salaries were paid
illegally to, among other things, administrators and
even "ghost teachers" - people who were dead, retired or
for other reasons were never in the classrooms.
These investments led Peña Nieto to a collision
course with the influential teachers' unions (see also
Current Policy and the Labor Market). The contradictions
led to clashes that in the summer of 2016 degenerated
into fatal violence in southern Mexico. Several union
leaders were arrested on suspicion of money laundering
and other crimes. The protests led to schools being
closed for long periods.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who succeeded Peña Nieto
in December 2018, had as one of his main campaign
promises to tear down education reform, which he claimed
would lead to privatizations in the education system.
Already after a few months, Congress approved a proposal
for a new educational reform that guarantees free
schooling from preschool to college. Teachers must,
according to the proposal, which must be ratified by the
Länder before it can take effect, have access to
continuous skills development.
Around a quarter of Mexicans also attend some form of
college. There are a large number of universities and
other higher education institutions. The Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City has over
300,000 students and is the largest university in Latin
America. It is also considered one of the most
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Mexico, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
95.3 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
94.9 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
19.0 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
19.0 percent (2015)
New electoral laws are adopted
New electoral laws are adopted and mean that congressmen from 2018 will be
able to be re-elected (senators once and members of the Chamber of Deputies
three times). In addition, the rules for campaign financing are tightened and a
new electoral authority is set up.
Partial privatization of the oil industry is approved
Congress is adopting a contentious proposal to open up the state-controlled
oil industry for foreign investment. The law gives foreign oil companies the
right to drill for oil and gas in collaboration with the state Pemex and
participate in the development of new gas and oil fields. Mexico is believed to
have, among other things, large untapped assets of shale gas and oil beneath the
seabed in the Gulf of Mexico. Within a few days, half of the federal units
(states and Mexico City) have also passed the law, which is required because it
involves changes in the constitution. Earlier this month tens of thousands
demonstrated in the capital in protest of the proposal.
The left leaves a deal with the government
The PRD announces that the party is withdrawing from the Mexico Pact. This is
in protest against the change in energy policy which is about to be approved,
which means that private interests are admitted into the oil sector.
Mass graves are found in two states
Two graves with a total of 64 people are found in the states of Jalisco and
Michoacán, in an area where drug war fighting is ongoing. The discovery is made
in pursuit of two police officers who disappeared in November. Since then, 25
people, including 22 police officers, have been arrested on suspicion of being
involved in the disappearance and in contact with the drug forces.
Major investment in drug lighters' control in Michoacán
The government is launching a major effort to try to "regain" control in the
state where "self-defense groups" and drug lords have recently clashed. The
effort is concentrated on the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, which is one of two
main sites for importing chemicals used in drug production. Already, 5,500 extra
police and military have been sent to the state, and an attempt has been made to
reduce the number of weapons among the inhabitants. People are offered cash and
computers in exchange, which has resulted in close to 1,600 weapons handed over
in five months. Some time into the month, a mayor is found murdered in his car.
He has previously spoken publicly about how a drug cartel is blackmailing him
and other mayors in Michoacán.
New law allows for pardon
A new law comes into force that gives the president the right to pardon
prisoners whose human rights are considered to have been violated. Peña Nieto
immediately apologizes to a Tzotzil Native American teacher who has served 13
years in prison for murder, but who has always denied crime and, according to
human rights groups, has been subjected to an abuse of justice. The teacher must
have been innocently designated for an assault in connection with the Zapatist
uprising in Chiapas (see Modern History).
Storms cause major damage
Two tropical storms hit the country at about the same time, causing major
damage. Around 150 people are killed and hundreds of thousands are driven from
their homes. The Pacific coast is hit by Manuel - a storm that was later
upgraded to the hurricane - and the storm Ingrid, which also had hurricane
strength, advances across the Caribbean coast. A few thousand tourists are
evacuated from Acapulco and thousands more are stranded. It is the first time in
over half a century that two severe storms hit the same day.
Teacher evaluation is approved despite continued protests
Congress approves the president's educational reform with mandatory teacher
evaluations, in a victory for Peña Nieto. PAN leader Gustavo Madero calls
education reform the first final result in the president's "pact for Mexico".
Even the PRD's Jesús Zambrano is positive, calling education reform "a true
revolution" and a necessary tool for social mobility. Within PRD, however, there
is a certain division; there are groups that support the teachers' union. The
teachers have continued with their protests. At the start of the semester in
August, 1 million children could not attend school because of a teacher strike.
Around 50,000 striking teachers then blocked the congress building in Mexico
City for several days. When the law is to be passed, teachers will clash with
the riot police and the president's speech to the nation may be postponed one
day and held elsewhere than planned.
US espionage provokes criticism
Mexico, together with Brazil, demands a declaration from the United States,
after it was revealed that the US intelligence service NSA has spied on the two
countries' presidents and eavesdropped electronic communications within senior
management. The information comes from the American whistleblower Edward Snowden
via the British newspaper The Guardian. Later, new information comes that US
electronic surveillance also included former President Calderón's e-mail. The
Foreign Ministry calls the spying "unacceptable and illegal".
The Juarez cartel leader is arrested
Alberto Carrillo Fuentes, also known as Betty la Fea (Fula Betty), is
arrested in the state of Nayarit in the west. He is the third suspect cartel
leader arrested during the year. The Juárez cartel was one of the most powerful
in the 1990s, but the Sinaloa cartel has taken control of many of its former
smuggling routes. Much of the violence in Chihuahua and in the city of Juárez is
believed to be due to rivalry between the two cartels.
The leader of the Golf cartel is arrested
Another of the country's most sought-after arrests: Mario Ramírez Treviño,
aka X-20, who is the leader of the Golf cartel. The United States and Mexico had
promised a reward for Ramirez Treviño in the same order of magnitude as for
Treviño Morales (see July 2013), and Ramírez Treviño is
considered at least as brutal as this one. Ramírez Treviño is believed to have
taken over after predecessor Jorge Eduardo Costilla (see September 2012),
and is believed to have tried to reunite the Golfo and Zeta cartels. From the
beginning, the Zetas were a kind of armed branch of the Golf cartel, until they
split in 2010.
The leader of the Zeta cartel is arrested
Marine Corps seizes Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, leader of one of the
country's most powerful and violent drugs forces, Zetas. Treviño Morales, aka
Z-40, has become notorious for unusual brutality.
New media law is adopted
As part of President Peña Nieto 's political "pact" with the leading
opposition parties, a legislative package is adopted that will liberalize the
telecommunications and media sectors. Foreign ownership is allowed at 100
percent in telecommunications and up to 49 percent in media. Furthermore, an
independent monitoring agency will be set up and two new national TV channels
Teacher protests are becoming violent
In the state of Guerrero, unrest erupts when masked teachers attack buildings
belonging to both the PRI and PAN and PRD governments, which support educational
reform (see February 2013).
Influential teacher trainee leaders are arrested
The day after the package was adopted, the teachers' union SNTE's powerful
leader Elba Esther Gordillo Morales was arrested, suspected of embezzlement and
organized crime. Gordillo Morales has led Latin America's largest trade union
for over 20 years and stood close to PRI, and is often called Mexico's most
Law on teacher evaluations is adopted
The President signs a law on reforms in the education system, with a view to
addressing corruption that includes, among other things, harassment and bribery
when teacher services are added. According to the law, compulsory teacher
evaluations are to be introduced, but teachers' unions fear dismissals.
Many disappeared during Calderón
The government states that 26,000 people have disappeared in Mexico since
December 2006, when the army was deployed in the fight against drug cartels.
This is a much higher figure than previously stated. Amnesty International comes
later this spring with criticism of the government for not doing enough to
investigate the 26,000 cases. More and more critics believe that the war on drug
trafficking led to a sharp escalation of the violence.
Assaults on Spaniards threaten the tourism industry
A brutal assault on a group of Spaniards near Acapulco arouses great dismay
even in violent Mexico. Armed men occupy the house the Spanish have hired and
bind a number of people before raping six women. The attack is seen as a serious
blow to the tourism industry in the country.
Support for victims of violence
President Peña Nieto signs a law to support the victims of drug-related
violence. A national register must be established to try to clarify what has
happened to thousands of missing persons. A fund must also be set up so that
victims and their relatives can seek compensation for murders, kidnappings and