Education and Schools in Mexico
The Mexican education system has had its share of struggles. The dropout rate in public schools in Mexico is high, as many children need to work in order for their families to survive. Rural schools are underfunded and have a shortage of buildings, teachers and textbooks. Urban public schools are better, but the standard of education is still relatively low. Private schools, however, have a high standard of bilingual education that is usually well-suited to expat children.
The education system in Mexico is segregated by social class. Wealthy families normally send their children to private schools (colegio), where the standard is high and there is no shortage of good teachers and textbooks, while poorer families send their children to public schools (escuela).
In Mexico, basic education is normally divided into three levels: primary school (primaria), grades 1 to 6; junior high school (secundaria), grades 7 to 9; and high school (preparatoria), grades 10 to 12.
Many expats homeschool their children, or send them to a Mexican school for half the day and homeschool them in the afternoons. Immersion in a Mexican school for half the day can help expat children learn Spanish and assimilate better into Mexican culture.
Public schools in Mexico
Public schools in Mexico are free of charge and secular, as religious instruction is banned in public education. The Mexican government provides free textbooks for primary school children but once they reach high school, parents need to buy textbooks for their children.
Children must achieve at least 60 percent in the national examination at the end of each school year in order to proceed to the next grade.
School days in Mexico are shorter than that of many other countries. It is common for some children to work in the mornings and attend school in the afternoons. The school year usually runs from September to the following June.
Unfortunately, there have been reports of corruption in Mexican public schools. The schools are underfunded and lacking in resources. This is especially true in rural areas, with urban centres only marginally better.
Because of these disadvantages, public schools are rarely an option for expat children. That said, expat children who are fluent in Spanish can benefit from attending public school for half the day, followed by home-schooling in the afternoon.
Private schools in Mexico
Although there are many private schools in Mexico, they are mainly concentrated in the big cities. When considering a private school, expats must ensure that it is accredited through the Ministry of Public Education and visit the school to see its quality first-hand, as the standard of private schools in Mexico can vary greatly. Parents are advised to meet with teachers and check the curriculum to determine suitability. Those with children who will be going to university in their home country should ensure that the school is accredited internationally.
Most expats send their children to private or international schools, as they offer a broader curriculum and better teachers than public schools. Many private schools provide bilingual education, where half the day is taught in Spanish and the other in English.
Enrolling in a private school in Mexico
Expats enrolling their children in a private school in Mexico must provide school records proving that their child has completed the previous year of school and has qualified to continue to the next grade level.
Schools usually ask for a copy of the child’s birth certificate, a copy of their school records and photo identification for the child and the parent.
International schools in Mexico
An international school is often the best choice for expat children. Attending an international school will ensure that children receive a world-class education and can attend university in their home country or anywhere else in the world.
Most international schools in Mexico are located in large cities, such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. English and American, as well as German, French and Japanese schools are available in Mexico. Tuition varies greatly from affordable to exorbitant for the most elite schools.
Tertiary education in Mexico
Tertiary education in Mexico is similar to the model followed in the United States. A Bachelor’s degree is typically four years long, a Master’s is two years long and a Doctoral degree is three years.
There are three types of higher education: a Higher Technician certificate, a Bachelor’s degree and postgraduate degrees. The Higher Technician certificate allows students to train with skilled workers and professionals in a specific field and then enter that trade themselves.