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Board of directors 07 Jun 2016

Education: the major driver of transformation for Mexico

Since the 2013 education reforms were enacted and included in the Constitution, education has become one of the fundamental priorities for Mexico’s government and society alike.  Reforming the country’s enormous and complex education system will be beneficial for all Mexican institutions and social partners. BBVA Bancomer has been supporting efforts to drive this progress for many years, via its scholarship and education support programs.

The Secretary for Education, Aurelio Nuño, and the President of ITAM and Director of BBVA Bancomer, Arturo Fernández, today discussed education and reforms at the BBVA Bancomer Annual Directors Meeting. The Secretary of Public Education began his speech by thanking Francisco González and BBVA Bancomer for its engagement with and steadfast support for education, via the numerous BBVA Bancomer scholarships provided all over the country.

He went on to emphasize the important nature of the education reforms that have been introduced: “Of the 13 structural reforms that have been implemented, this is without question the most significant and the one that has the potential to transform the country in the medium and long term”. Nuño briefly outlined the Secretariat of Public Education’s 90-year history, arguing that its greatest success in the 20th Century was to provide universal education to all Mexican children, making the country’s education system the world’s fifth largest. However, the main challenge for the 21st Century is “to prioritize quality over quantity”.

The new education act sets out five key objectives.

System restructuring: changing a clientelist and corporate system into one that prioritizes merit and excellence. Clear rules need to be established to phase out the mistakes of the past.

Restructuring schools: cutting through red tape, ensuring that time is dedicated to more effective teaching. A new, school-centric model.

Teacher professionalization: improved teacher training and assessments to identify strengths and weaknesses.

New content and programs: adapted to the 21st Century society. The Mexican government is set to unveil the new curricula over the next few days, which will include socioemotional development as a key subject at schools.

Inclusion and equality: all of the changes must reach all Mexican children.

Picture of Education Reform Panel at National Meeting of Directors BBVA Bancomer

Arturo Fernández, Aurelio Nuño and the journalist Leonardo Kourchenko.

Arturo Fernández, meanwhile, stated that “Mexico cannot attain the status of a developed country unless its citizens have access to proper education, because ignorance leads only to intolerance and violence”. Fernández encouraged all social partners and opinion leaders to publically and openly defend the efforts being made to drive progress in education. “By default any void will be filled by opposing voices, by those who wish to protect unfair privileges”.  He also praised efforts by the current executive to reclaim state control over education, seizing it away from unions.

During the discussion, both speakers emphasized that these are long-term reforms, with the fruits for Mexican students set to be seen in ten years’ time.  The changes are slow and require plenty of political will, but they are also necessary.

Regarding the union protests seen in certain parts of the country, the Secretary for Education was emphatic that those failing to comply with the reforms would feel the full weight of law. “We will not sit down to dialogue until they break the cycle of mobilization and pressure to protect a system of privileges. Teachers who fail to turn up to class or refuse to undergo assessments will be removed from their positions, as stipulated by the law”.

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