Good education: a big issue

One of the big issues for any new government is that of education. There are free schools for everyone here and every child is obliged to go to school to gain at least a basic education up until the age of 16. Thereafter, those who want to continue can and those who don’t usually work. Naturally, there are some children whose attendance at school is patchy since some families depend on their children to work and augment the family’s meagre resources. That is one half of the issue of education; the other half has to do with the teachers and their qualifications.

There is a national exam that all public school teachers are obliged to take in July in order to guarantee a teaching position for the upcoming school year, which starts in August every year. This exam has only been in place over the last 6 years, before that there was no national exam. This year 140,172 teachers presented the exam; there should have been 146,222 teachers but 4.16% failed to turn up. The exam consisted of 140 multiple option questions and the time allowed was 3.5 hours.  The results were announced on 21 July and this is what I would like to share with you today.

Taking information from the national newspaper Excelsior on 21 July these are the results:
·      * 7 out of every 10 teachers failed the exam
·      * Of the 140,000 teachers who took part 69.3% answered 70 questions or less correctly (70 correct answers represents the pass mark of 6)
·      * 3 out of every 10 achieved the pass mark answering correctly 70 or more questions
·      * Only 2.5% of the candidates achieved a grade of 9 or higher
·      * 6.2% got less than 30 questions right.

The numbers are complicated but what this basically means is that on average 70% of all teachers of public schools have the right to teach even though they have a score lower than the pass mark of 6. The exams were different depending on the grade that the candidate was looking to teach at but they all covered basic knowledge in 3 areas: basic education, intellectual abilities and competency in teaching.

Not all those who presented the exam will get a teaching position, there are far less posts than there are candidates. However, with so few teachers passing the exam with a decent grade, i.e. getting a grade of 9 or over, then it is obvious that there are many teachers who end up teaching the nation’s children without the necessary knowledge and abilities. You can draw your own conclusions but to me education is the future of any country. Yes, we have many private schools but that is not the point. Without a good level of education in the nation’s schools for children up to the age of 16 at least then it’s harder for Mexico to progress. Education is about the future.

As WB Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”. Is this fire to be feared? It shouldn’t be, it should be encouraged. Learning is something that we need to embrace from early on and continue throughout our lives, if we mean to progress as a society.  


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