Mexico has a very young population: 29% are aged 14 or under (compared with around 13% and 17% in the U.S. and EU respectively). In addition, approximately 65% of Mexicans are in the 15-65 age group (the corresponding U.S./EU figures being 74% and 67%).
Having such a youthful populace means focusing on training and education now will play a major factor on Mexico’s future productivity and its aim of being established among the world’s top 10 world economies by 2050.
Since 1950, the number of Mexican students has leapt from 3 million to 32 million last year, as the nation’s population expanded from just under 26 million to around 113 million over the same period. According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), almost all 5 to 14 year olds are now enrolled in schools. Over the past five decades the number of Mexicans attaining an upper secondary education has doubled, with the same doubling seen in tertiary results.
Mexico spends around 5% of gross domestic product on education – a respectable percentage share of the national wealth compared to other major economies. Although calls have been made for clearer reporting on the allocation and distribution of the budget to encourage more accurate targeting of public funding to meet the needs of students and teachers, The Economist reports “by Latin American standards, Mexico’s schools are rather good.”
According to an international test of 15-year-olds in reading, math and science by the OECD (PISA), Mexico has the region’s second-best educated children, after Chile. In math, Mexico is improving faster than anywhere else in the survey of 65 countries, “well on track” to meet math and reading targets set by President Felipe Calderon in 2007.
Mexico’s performance in the OECD’s education rankings has improved slightly in recent years and President Calderon has tried to bring in education reforms, such as ending the practice of the selling of teachers’ posts. In 2008 the government launched a program to progressively renovate and equip primary and secondary schools with computers. Within education funding, between 2008 and 2010 non-wage expenditure increased by 24% in real terms.
TEACHERS & PARENTS
The government has also looking at creating incentives for teachers and getting parents involved with local schools. A project called School Management Support (AGE) grants parents’ associations in some of Mexico’s poorest schools roughly US$6 per student per year to improve learning conditions.
In the tertiary sector, higher education usually follows the U.S. education model.
On May 2, 2012, Public Education Secretary (SEP) Dr. Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos met with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne in Mexico City to discuss the intense and fruitful relations between both governments concerning education. They looked at ways to translate cross-border links into opportunities for studying and improvement for an important number of Mexican and U.S. students and academics participating in their numerous jointly sponsored programs.