From a lack of classrooms and textbooks, to underpaid and unequipped teachers, quality education is critically lacking for youth in Mexico. Out of the 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member states, Mexico recently ranked 34th when it came to education.
Read on to learn more about the issues that are holding back the Mexican education system, and how one impressive local organization is bringing reform from within.
The State of Education in Mexico
The numbers clearly reflect the educational dilemma in Mexico: there are almost 31 million students currently enrolled in required education, yet 5,000 students drop out of school every day.
Even for those students who remain in school, the quality of their education is a major concern. The government’s financial commitment to education in Mexico is low, with only 0.8% of the GDP going towards early childhood social investments. This takes a toll on learning outcomes; only 40% of students who achieve a bachelor’s degree have a level of reading comprehension that allows them to adequately acquire content knowledge and express opinions and ideas.
While public school is technically free, there are nominal fees for certain middle and high schools, required materials and uniforms, transportation costs, and social factors that make it difficult for students to attend school, even when it is available. Teachers in Mexico often reference students who simply don’t have enough to eat, students who have fallen into gangs or drug use, and students who suffer abuse at home or are traumatized by previous experiences in an educational system that lacks oversight and proper administration.
It’s not just a question of student attendance. In one shocking piece of evidence, 13% of teachers on payroll don’t show up for work, and 60% of schools report teacher attendance issues.
Despite these conditions, students in Mexico have not been abandoned. There are rays of hope for reform, thanks to organizations like Enseña Por México, through which we see young people — many who were once struggling students themselves — stepping up to change the education system from the inside.
How Enseña Por México is Making a Difference
Enseña Por México’s mission is to empower young leaders to make a difference in schools and in their future careers. As of 2018, they’ve managed to reach 60,000 students across Mexico with their methodology which embeds highly-trained teachers into low income schools.
As a member of Teach For All — a global network that strives to improve access to quality education — Enseña Por México trains and supports leaders in the education system. Like its US counterpart, Teach for America, the goal is to train young leaders who dedicate two years to teaching in a low income school. Unlike the typical public school teacher, Enseña Por México teachers use a one-to-one methodology, which encourages self-learning and soft skills development, bringing about a holistic transformation in the students in both their academic and social lives.
The young leaders that Enseña Por México selects and trains are called PEMs, or Teaching Professionals for Mexico. They complete extensive leadership training and then complete two years of teaching in underserved communities or schools. They spend time with individual students, listening and responding to their needs, rather than simply telling them what to do. There are now upwards of 140 active PEMs and 284 alumni who have worked in eight different states.
Some of the PEM alumni have worked to improve communications between principals and their staff, between schools and students’ families, or between students and their communities as a whole.
To Enseña Por México and its PEMs, successful students are those who not only perform well academically, but also who engage with their community and report improvements in their personal lives. Ultimately, Enseña Por México strives to foster a transformation that is personal, social, and educational for every student — after all, not every achievement can be measured with grades.
How You Can Help the Students (and Teachers) of Mexico
The young leaders at Enseña Por México can’t make a difference without the support of donors like you. Since federal spending on education is low, they rely on raising funds through other means — including their collaboration with ICF — to boost educational opportunities. In 2018, ICF and our donors are supporting Enseña Por México in La Paz, while also working to expand the program to Los Cabos and the San Diego-Tijuana border region. We hope you will join us in this effort!
With your generous contributions, students can grow up to become the leaders who will ensure real change in Mexico. Donate to ICF’s education fund today and help Enseña Por México improve the lives of thousands of students and teaching professionals in Mexico.