Mexico's educational goal yet to be met

Peña Nieto's administration focused on strengthening distance education, through online modalities, only to prove coverage expansion
Young people seen near the Central Library and the Rectory Tower the UNAM – Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Teresa Moreno
Mexico City
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Less than a year before the current administration comes to an end, Mexico has not been able to reach Peña Nieto's stated goal of higher education proposed at the beginning of his six-year term.

Higher education, overall, should have reached 296,000 more students at least, according to specialists.

At the beginning of this term, Peña Nieto said that “higher education, should reach 40% of the age group between 18 and 22 years old by 2018,” yet according to the figures of Mexico's National Education System, for the 2016-2017 school year, undergraduate coverage reached 32.1% and 37.3% in open system, while the dropout rate is 6.8%.

In the last school year, 3,523,807 young people were studying an undergraduate major in 5,311 institutions, of which 58.4% were private and 41.6% were public universities. Regarding open system, enrollment reached 572,332 students.

Thus 37.3% coverage was reached. The expected figures should have been 4,392,642 new students, yet it has only reached 4,096,139, almost 300,000 fewer students.

According to Imanol Ordorika, researcher at UNAM specialized in the Economics of Education, Science, and Technology, Peña Nieto's government focused on strengthening distance education, through online modalities, only to prove coverage expansion.

"At some point, at the beginning of the term, they established the idea of building or generating a number of new institutions of higher education, breaking the logic of creating only technological ones. The possibility of new public universities was raised, to review and try to shift the axis of educational growth to a new generation of universities that were not of a technological nature. Yet, the proposal faded, blurred, and disappeared very soon. A concrete plan was never made, nor was a specific program drawn," he assured.

“Peña Nieto's administration is characterized by a huge lack of interest in higher education as a whole," he said.

Mexico's National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ANUIES) expressed its concern at these levels of coverage, since they were below the average for Latin American countries, and were underneath OECD countries.

Since then, universities have stated that the rate of extension of coverage was "insufficient," thus ANUIES proposed a strategy to reach a gross education coverage rate of 60% by 2022.


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