Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
The main educational agency in Mexico is the Public Education Secretariat, or SEP. This government ministry coordinates basic education within and between all the states. Under the provisions of the 1993 educational reform, the bulk of the administrative and daily operations of schools were transferred from the SEP and other federal agencies to the states. Under this new federalism, the SEP continues to funnel money for public education, but state governments are also increasingly under pressure to share in the burden of providing affordable public education to all their inhabitants.
Private education is guaranteed under the Mexican Constitution. Educational institutions that want to engage in providing basic education and teacher education must first secure authorization from the government and other related public institutions that provide training for teachers. For preschool, upper secondary, and higher education, private establishments may also require official recognition of validity. Some of these requirements for validation of their programs of study include certification of teaching personnel and adequate pedagogical material and infrastructure. In the case of basic education and the training of teachers, they must follow the study plans and programs established by SEP. In all other cases, private institutions must follow the plans and programs of studies considered appropriate by the accrediting authority. They are also required to provide a certain minimum number of student scholarships.
In terms of educational investment, Mexico has continued to increase public expenditure in this regard. In 1978 education expenditures accounted for 4.8 percent of the GDP; by 1999 it was 5.1 percent. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicated that in 1994 about 50 percent of its member states allocated between 5 and 6 percent of its GDP to education. However, the distribution of these funds varies depending on several factors. Although Mexico spends a similar proportion of its GDP on education as the other developed nations, a big difference on the impact that this spending produces is found in per capita spending. It is known that other countries devote more per capita spending for education than countries like Mexico. This is possible in part due to the number of children enrolled in basic education. Also, once countries have been able to satisfactorily meet the most pressing needs of basic education, funds could be used for higher education and research, where cost per student tends to be higher. The SEP, for example, spends slightly more than 65.0 percent of its money on basic education, while upper secondary education accounts for 9.5 percent of the expenditures, and higher undergraduate education gets about 14.0 percent. Graduate education receives only 1 percent.
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