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Educational System—overview

The Mexican educational system consists of three levels: primary, secondary, and higher education. Formal basic education encompasses preschool, elementary, and lower secondary. Basic education accounts for approximately 81 percent of the total number of students receiving school services. Federal, state, and local governments provide 93 percent of basic education, while private schools provide about 7 percent.

In 2000 there were 29,700,000 students enrolled in all levels of education. Of these, 23,612,000 were enrolled in basic education grades. According to estimates from the Secretaría de Educación Pública or SEP (Public Education Secretariat), school enrollment for children aged 6 to 14 years stands at about 92.08 percent. However, only 46.68 percent of those between the ages of 15 to 19 years attend school.

The new legal framework adopted in 1993 under a new federalism continued to charge the Federal Government with the task of determining the study plans and programs for elementary, lower secondary, and teacher education for the entire country. Additional constitutional amendments made it a legal obligation for parents to send their children to elementary and lower secondary schools. Under the provisions of the 1993 General Education Law, the Federal Government, through SEP, continues to oversee the general implementation of education, but the states are given complete responsibility for administrating basic education, including indigenous and special education and teacher education. Preschool education in not mandatory but is available to children between the ages of three to five. It is not necessary to attend jardín de niños (kindergarten) to enroll in elementary school. However, preschool education is highly recommended.

Mandatory school age is 6 to 14 years, which covers primary and lower secondary school. Elementary school is from grades one through six; lower secondary education is taught in three levels, from first to third grade. Although elementary school enrollment improved for children in the compulsory ages from 86 percent in 1990 to 92 percent in 2000, completion of elementary school for those 15 years of age and older remained low. About 70 percent of those people beyond the compulsory school age were able to complete elementary school. This percentage, however, represented an increase in graduation rates for this age group from 62 in 1990. Mexicans 15 years and older who completed secundaria (lower secondary school or middle school) or its equivalent reached 46 percent in 2000 from 36 percent in 1990.

The academic year is set by the SEP for all public and private-incorporated schools offering preschool, elementary, secondary, and teacher education. The year consists of 200 working days of classes usually beginning in the last week of August and ending in the first week of July. Preschoolers attend school for three hours every day from Monday to Friday. Primary school children spend between four and four and a half hours in class instruction every day. Students in secundaria (middle school) spend at least seven hours per day in school. There are morning, afternoon, night, and combined class shifts.

In general, in the compulsory school grades, boys and girls are almost equally represented: males, 92 percent; females, 91 percent. However, this balance is upset in the upper grades. Even though the gap is closing, males tend to be represented in greater numbers than females, particularly in higher education. With the exception of vocational, technical, and teacher education, representation of men at all levels of education (including university undergraduate and graduate levels) is higher than women's. The official language of instruction is Spanish.

However, increasing attention is being paid to Indigenous education. Mexico recognizes 62 indigenous ethnic groups that speak more than 80 languages. These groups are found in 24 of the 31 Mexican states. More than 1 million indigenous children receive bilingual instruction at the preschool and elementary school levels; this education is offered in 72 dialects from 49 parent languages. The grading system is based on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest and 6 the minimum passing grade.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceMexico - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education