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Inequality in Universities

Mexico's inequality creates an impact, particularly, on the newer generations, who have less probability of achieving social mobility
UNAM - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
23/07/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Mexico is among the ten countries with most inequality in the world, according to the World Bank. This negative characteristic is most evident in social and economical organization, but it creates an impact, particularly, on the newer generations, who have less probability of achieving social mobility.

This vast inequality gap is reflected in the Mexican higher education system, since the possibilities to access higher education through the most important public institutions – such as the National Autonomous University (UNAM) – increase when applicants are children of professionals – graduated from high quality high schools – or members of the higher social classes.

This might seem like stating the obvious, yet this phenomenon should not be standardized and, even less, accepted, by the educational institutions or by the Secretariat of Public Education. It should not be possible that children, let's say, of a lawyer, have more possibilities of passing the admission exam than the children of a masonry worker. This is a social determinism that is highly unacceptable.

Thus, we have here, as a reflection of social inequality and privations, two main issues: prospective students with unequal academic capacities, and the fact that education has become merchandise – more available to those who have more purchasing power. According to this scenario, can there truly be a competition under equal conditions, for admission to college?

Scholars agree that this gap is not only economical, but also intellectual and cultural, and aspirants need to compete under equal conditions. To achieve this, universities should aim to develop tests that genuinely provide an equal footing for all candidates, regardless of whether they come from the capital city or from the poorest regions of the country.

In order to improve and have a more egalitarian access to higher education, a full diagnostic of the academic background of aspirants presenting their admission exams should be performed. And the matter of inequality doesn't end just at the admission doors; it should carry on to ensure that all students have the same opportunities to remain and conclude their higher education program successfully.

Higher education is – or it should be – the means towards social mobility, yet, while the mechanisms to provide equal opportunities remain absent all the way from admission up to teaching methods and curricula, and enough coverage for all prospective students regardless of social class is not provided, we will continue to reproduce social and economical stratification at higher education, and thus, eliminating all possibility of social mobility.

Origin is not – or shouldn't be – destination, even less so when talking about the education opportunities of new generations.

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