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How many will graduate?

Out of 100 children who began elementary school in 1999, an average of 22 successfully concluded a college education
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
21/08/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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This Monday, a new academic year begins in Mexico and more than 25 million students have enrolled. Some begin a new level of education, yet, similarly to a resistance test, there are thousands of students who won't make it all the way, with a minimal chance of resuming their studies later on.

Out of 100 children who began elementary school in 1999, an average of 22 successfully concluded a college education during the academic year 2015-2016, according to the figures of the Ministry of Public Education published today by EL UNIVERSAL.

What happened to those 78 students out of the initial 100 that caused them to drop out of school? Economic, social and personal factors are the common reasons, but we should be looking into specifics.

In two stories this newspaper publishes today, the lack of money and reliable guidance drove two individuals to abandon their studies after they enrolled in elementary school back in 1999. Today, at the age of 24, they could have concluded an undergraduate program. Both regret their situation and wish they could continue studying.

This year's program launches most of the modifications proposed by the new education reform. The teacher's union no longer has control over the country's education system and only the most qualified professionals will provide their services, without the noxious sale of positions at public schools. One of the data which has to reflect the effectiveness of this new educational model is, precisely, the number of recorded dropouts. Even though data shows a high number of students conclude elementary school, desertion begins in middle school and becomes a serious issue during high school.

Thousands of students dropping out of school represents a high cost for the country. The lack of formation condemns several of them to low wages and others are lured into crime with the promise of easy money.

It's impossible that all will begin –  or even conclude –  college, nevertheless, it's urgent that Mexico raises its national average of years of study. According to the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI), the data from a 2015 report shows the average of years studied per Mexican citizen is 9.1; which is the equivalent of finishing middle school. Among the countries part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average of college enrollment is 67% while in Mexico it's 38%.

Those who are at risk of desertion need to be identified now to fight the dropout rate. This task will need a joint effort, but betting on education is the only way Mexico will begin to solve its most pressing matters.

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