The nation of Mexico, which is officially referred to as the United Mexican States, is a federal republic that can be found in the most southern part of the continent of North America. The independent nation’s northern border is shared with the United States of America; its southern border is shared with Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; its eastern border is shared with the Gulf of Mexico; and its southern and western borders are shared with the Pacific Ocean. Mexico is the 13th biggest independent nation in the world, with an area of around 760,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers), making it the sixth largest country in the Americas by total area. The country is expected to have a population of about 113 million people, making it the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world as well as the eleventh most populated country overall and the second most populous country in Latin America. There are thirty-one states that make up Mexico’s federation, in addition to a Federal District that contains Mexico City, the nation’s capital.
Mexico has one of the greatest economies in the world; it is the world’s largest producer of silver and the tenth largest producer of oil; and it is regarded as both a regional power and a middle power. In addition, Mexico was the first country in Latin America to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; this membership dates back to 1994), and the World Bank classifies Mexico as an upper-middle income country. It is generally agreed that Mexico is a freshly industrialized nation as well as a rising power. It has the world’s tenth greatest GDP when measured in terms of purchasing power parity but has the fourteenth largest nominal GDP. The economy has close ties to those of its partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), most notably the United States of America.
It is possible to attribute a significant portion of Mexico’s recent economic success to the country’s steadily growing educational system, which includes its system of higher education. In the next piece, we will talk about Mexico’s educational system in some depth, including topics such as its history, organization, typical curriculum, and the many different kinds of educational institutions that make up the system.
A Brief Overview of Mexico’s Educational History
Education in Mexico is inextricably linked to both the turbulent history of the country as well as the various ethnic and class divisions that exist within the country. These divisions include Amerindians, Spanish aristocrats, criollos (a social class consisting of locally born people of pure Spanish ancestry), peons, and mestizos (those of mixed Amerindian and European ancestry, predominantly Spanish). During the Colonial era, which began with the first contact between Europeans in the early sixteenth century and lasted until the Mexican revolution in the early nineteenth century, the Catholic Church, which brought its religion to the region with the Spanish colonists, unquestionably played a significant part in the education of Mexicans. This period in Mexican history started when Diego de Velázquez, the Spanish governor of Cuba, conducted expeditions to the Mexican mainland via the Yucatán Peninsula. The first Spaniards landed in the new world in the year 1517, and a year later they made it to the Gulf coast in what is now the state of Veracruz. The following year, in 1519, Hernán Cortés came in Mexico with eleven ships carrying 550 soldiers each, and he was successful in subduing the Aztecs within three years. Cortez gave this country the name “New Spain” after he had succeeded in capturing the Aztec leader Montezuma II.
Education was almost entirely reserved for members of the ruling aristocracy under Spain’s rule, as it was under the rule of the majority of the other major European colonial powers in what is now North America. The Spanish nearly extinguished the indigenous peoples’ traditional educational practices when they arrived in the Americas; yet, many aspects of the indigenous peoples’ beliefs and educational practices endured for many years after their arrival. In the Spanish colonies, such as Mexico, the Roman Catholic Church was in charge of providing educational programs and services. Members of the higher class and the clergy received an education in the classics, but the peons and mestizos were not given the opportunity to learn how to read or write. Both the Mayan and Aztec peoples had their own distinct educational practices that were mostly oral in nature. These practices were part of an ethnomethodological system that was passed down from one generation to the next and included the transmission of stories and legends.
At the time of Spanish colonization, it is estimated that the number of native Amerindians living in what is now the central region of Mexico was somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 million people or more. However, by the seventeenth century, their populations had been reduced to a few million people as a result of physical genocide, war, slavery, and disease. The vast majority of Native Americans kept up their informal verbal educational tradition and remained in pueblos, whereas the majority of lower-class Mestizos called ejidos home (communal land holdings). In spite of the difficulties that the Amerindians had to deal with, their indigenous culture, which included their language and the traditional methods of doing things, was preserved for the most part, and many aspects of it were assimilated into the rising mestizo community.
The local Spanish, wary of the influence of Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, attempted to construct their own plantation style of government in Mexico, one that exploited both the Indians and the peasants. This system of administration was characterized by widespread inequality. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish monarchy favored the establishment of a colonial type of feudal privilege and religious dissent. It is very clear that the Catholic Church intended to commit cultural genocide, as evidenced by the fact that they frequently built their churches on sacred locations occupied by native gods. Although the Indians’ uprising in the Mixton War in 1541 was a failure, they were successful in bringing attention to the difficulties they faced living under the encomienda feudal system.
Over the course of history, Catholic missions and monasteries were built in regions of the world that were home to indigenous peoples. These missions were surrounded by large agricultural estates known as haciendas, and the monasteries eventually became self-sufficient centers of political and economic authority. In the context of this system, Franciscan priests were responsible for providing the Indians and mestizo peasants with their early education, which mostly consisted of teaching in Catholicism. On the other hand, the Jesuits and Augustinians offered a more traditional education to the Spanish emigrants who settled in the Americas. The hospital-school of Santa Fe was founded in 1531 on the outskirts of Mexico City by Vasco de Quiroga, a liberal Catholic judge and Bishop. Vasco de Quiroga is credited with initiating the first school for the indigenous people, which was the Santa Fe school.
In the year 1536, Viceroy Mendoza and Bishop Zumárraga were responsible for establishing a second Indian school known as the School of Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco. However, as a result of the school’s newfound emphasis on Latin, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, music, and indigenous medicine, the student body gradually shifted to consist primarily of members of the Spanish privileged class.
In the year 1547, the Orphanage School of San Juan was established as a place where Indian and mestizo children, both male and female, could receive an education. The following year saw the opening of the Caridad School, which aimed to provide orphaned mestizos with an education. These two institutions represented the beginning of what would later become a number of schools aimed to give at least a limited education for female peasant adolescents. In the future, there would be a number of schools. If nothing else, the numerous educational endeavors of the Catholic Church helped the Amerindian populations better understand the Spanish language and culture. This is the least that can be said for their benefit. The newfound comprehension among the natives, on the other hand, started to scare the Spanish government, who believed that continuing formal education might lead to insurrection if it was allowed to continue.
The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico first opened its doors in 1553, making it the very first university to be established in what is now known as the Americas. The primary goal of the institution was to prepare criollos for ordination into the Catholic clergy. Many of New Spain’s educated elite were produced during the colonial period as a result of the over 30,000 bachelor’s degrees, as well as the more than 1,000 master’s and doctoral degrees, that were granted.
In Mexico, schools like these were more the exception than the rule. By 1842, when the public school movement was beginning in the United States, less than one percent of the Mexican population was educated, and only approximately 33 percent of education was provided at no cost. The wealthy were the primary beneficiaries of the existence of schools and educational institutions. The subsequent uprisings and civil wars between conservatives (who were pro-Catholic and considered themselves to be elitists) and liberals (who were anti-clericalists and considered themselves to be reformers) were largely responsible for the destruction of the schools that were already in existence.
The hacienda system in Mexico allowed for the development of a number of important urban centers, such as Puebla, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. These cities are still in existence today. Again, the education of the white upper classes was the driving force behind the establishment of universities as quickly as possible within these main metropolitan trading areas. By the year 1800, New Spain was home to approximately 6.5 million people (with 18 percent being white, 60 percent Indian, and 21 percent mestizo).
In the year 1810, a population that had been born and raised in Mexico began to feel resentment at the dominance of Spain and planted the seeds for a future revolt. This population was the white educated class of Mexico. Mexico declared its independence from Spain on February 24, 1821, and a year later, in 1822, it proclaimed its own Emperor, Agustin I, as the unquestioned leader of the new empire. After another year, the empire was brought down, and Mexico eventually became a republic.
The resultant conflicts with imperialist Anglo-Americans, which began in Texas in 1836 and continued with the United States from 1846 to 1848, ultimately resulted in Mexico losing half of its territory. This took place in Texas initially (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 and Gadsden Purchase of 1853). The year 1855 marked the beginning of a popular movement that was led by educated criollos liberals as well as indigenous peasants. This revolt was successful in removing the dictator General Santa Anna from power, compelling the Catholic Church to surrender its land, and dissolving the ejidos. The formation of an educated middle class was not achieved as a consequence of these activities, as had been hoped. Instead, Mexico began a new round of its internal conflict (War of Reform, 1858-1861). During this conflict, conservatives went looking for support from a foreign power in the form of Napoleon III, who was attempting to construct a Mexican kingdom under the leadership of an Austrian prince named Maximilian. In 1867, the French and Catholic influences in Mexico were successfully driven out of the country by the liberals who were led by Benito Juarez, an Indian leader. The reforms that Juárez envisioned in order to improve the educational and economic opportunities available to the peasants were never implemented because Juárez passed away before he could see them through (Indians and mestizos). The subsequent fight to enact those changes was fought in the south by Emiliano Zapata, and in the north by Pancho Villa, who is today famous for his role in those struggles.
The Mexican Revolution was successful, and as a result, the country’s constitution now guarantees all citizens access to educational and social opportunities. In 1917, as a result of all of these initiatives, a new constitution was ratified. This constitution was founded on anticlericalism, land reform, nationalism, worker rights, and secular education. The Royal and Pontifical University, which is considered to be the first university in the western hemisphere, later changed its name to the National Autonomous University of Mexico and expanded into a multi-campus enterprise with institutions located all across Mexico. The new constitution granted the federal government expanded authority over education, giving them control over both the organizational framework and the instructional content.
Schools with a religious affiliation, sometimes known as parochial schools, were kept distinct from public schools. Mexico was a federal republic that was made up of 31 states and a federal district. It had a president who was chosen for a single term that lasted for a total of six years, and it had a legislature that was split into two chambers. In 1921, the United States government established a Secretariat of Public Education. At this time, a nationalistic theme was incorporated into all public schools in Mexico, a trend that continues to this day; this nationalistic theme was a major feature of the revolution and was designed to obviate the foreign epistemological theme of the Catholic schools. This nationalistic theme is a trend that continues to this day.
Following the Mexican Revolution and World War II, significant social and political shifts took place in the country of Mexico. As a result, indigenous people and mestizos were given the opportunity to leave their rural haciendas and pueblos and settle in larger towns and cities. Within these bigger areas, rural schools expanded at a rapid rate, which increased the number of educational possibilities available to all Mexicans, regardless of their ethnicity or social class. This rise in educational possibilities occurred at the same time as a substantial decline in the infant mortality rate, which went from 222 deaths per 1,000 in 1920 to approximately 100 deaths per 1,000 by the middle of the 1940s. In 1920, the rate stood at 222 deaths per 1,000.
As a result of the outbreak of World War II, Mexico was once again forced to contend with the influence of other countries, specifically the United States of America, fascist Germany, and the Soviet Union. In the end, Mexico took the side of the Allied forces and supported the United States during the war by supplying both raw resources and human labor in the form of braceros. In the beginning, these were agricultural workers; however, by 1942, Mexico had formed the Camara Nacional de la Industria de Transformación in order to take measures toward preparing its workers for the industrial sector. When the conflict was over, around 300,000 Mexicans were working in 25 different states within the United States, which opened the door for the current illegal migrant worker market in North America.
In 1944, the Mexican Congress established legislation that opened the door to international involvement, with the stipulation that Mexicans held a dominant ownership in any mixed firm. This legislation opened the door to foreign investment. The majority of these maquiladoras came into being along the border between the United States and Mexico. These enterprises are known by their Spanish name. As a result of the maquiladoras, a large number of people, predominantly women, left the rural areas of the interior of Mexico and moved to the bordering borderlands. These migrants and immigrants, both legal and illegal, were eventually exposed to the educational system in the United States of America, which was dramatically different from the basic ninth grade lower secondary education that was promised to children and youth in Mexico.
Following the conclusion of World War II, significant advances were made in education in Mexico along two primary fronts. On the one hand, there was an emphasis placed on ensuring that new factory employees receive the appropriate training, while on the other hand, there was an emphasis placed on higher education. In 1946, the revolutionary party in Mexico changed its name to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, also known as the PRI. This party remained in power in Mexico until the elections that took place in the year 2000. The leaders of Mexico were so determined to transform their country that they changed the name of the revolutionary party.
During the period of the institutionalized revolution, which lasted from 1946 through 1958, one of the most important projects that was undertaken was the construction of the new University City, which was designed to house the National Autonomous University of Mexico. When it was finished in 1952, the National University of Mexico occupied an area of three square miles and was considered to be one of the most cutting-edge buildings anywhere in the world at the time. Despite the impressive outward appearance, there was a severe lack of educational resources available, including an almost devoid library. In spite of these limitations, there has been a growing trend in the country toward more objective study, particularly when it comes to presenting the history of Mexico. This intellectual movement has evolved.
El Colegio de Mexico, the Escuela National de Antropologia e Historia, and the Instituto de Historia of the National University were all established between the years 1940 and 1951. This led to a series of academic conferences in both Mexico and the United States that resulted in a more accurate depiction of Mexico. The conferences moved away from the overtly partisan viewpoints that were originally taught as part of the revolutionary-leaning curricula that was prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s. The first of these conferences was held in 1949 in Nuevo Leon, and subsequent gatherings took place in locations such as Austin, Texas, in 1958; Oaxtepec, Morelos, in 1969; Santa Monica, California, in 1973; Patzcuaro, Michoacán, in 1977; Chicago, Illinois, in 1981; Oaxaca in 1985; San Diego, California, in 1989; and Mexico City, Mexico, in 1994.
The educational initiatives that were undertaken in Mexico after the revolution were successful in bringing the country’s rate of illiteracy down from 77 percent in 1910 to less than 38 percent in 1960. Nevertheless, because the Mexican population is expanding at such a rapid rate, this (illiteracy) figure represented more than 13 million Mexicans; a number that many people considered to be excessive. In an effort to combat the widespread problem of illiteracy, the PRI set up a system of rural schools that were housed in prefabricated structures. These facilities were supplied by the government, while the land and the labor for building them came from the respective communities. As a result, both the cohesiveness of the community and the quality of education improved, which is a process that continues to this day. Within these villages, the priests of the past are typically replaced by the teachers, who go on to become respected leaders within the rural communities.
The educational system began implementing a standardized curriculum, and the federal government chose the required texts and made them available to pupils at no cost. This process was met with resistance from a number of different sources, including conservatives, churches, and even liberals who believed that the standardization of curricula was a form of indoctrination that tended to elevate the PRI at the expense of other political parties. It was to be expected that this process would be met with resistance from a number of different sources.
The middle to late 1960s were a turbulent time for higher education in Mexico as widespread student strikes and demonstrations brought the country’s National University campuses to a near standstill. In order to keep order on the campuses, the federal government sent in troops. In 1968, just prior to the Summer Olympics being held in Mexico, there was another outbreak of unrest on the campuses. This time, the demonstration was met with violence, and the primary cause of this was the intervention of the grenadiers, which are an unpopular form of paramilitary riot police. The National Student Strike Committee, a group analogous to the American organization Students for a Democratic Society, was in charge of coordinating the protests that took place on the campuses of the National University and the National Polytechnic Institute in August of 1968. (SDS). The National Student Strike Committee successfully coordinated a demonstration of 500,000 people on August 27, 1968, making it the greatest organized protest against the government in Mexico at the time.Overview and History of Brazil