Mexico ranks last in education among the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Mexican children leave school with the worst literacy, math and science skills, with around half failing to meet the most basic standards. The poorest children in Vietnam outperform the most privileged in Mexico.
Children in indigenous schools have the lowest achievement levels, with more than 80% falling below the basic level needed to progress. One in four indigenous 15-year-olds cannot read or write – four times the general illiteracy rate. Poverty within indigenous communities is rising. Where people live in the poorest conditions, the education always arrives last and is the poorest in every aspect – funding, materials, preparation of teachers – which means inequality is perpetuated. Attendance at the school is dismal, and drop-out rates are high.
Mexico’s teachers are hardly equipped to educate those who already speak a different language: 1.3 million schoolchildren around the country use indigenous dialects as their first – and sometimes only – language. Only 60% of the 55,000 teachers who do speak an indigenous language are in classrooms where students speak the same one.
The education budget was recently slashed by 11.4% – the lowest since 2011 – as the economy reels from US president Donald Trump’s threats to build a border wall and rip up trade agreements. The textbook budget has been cut by a third; teacher training and equality programs reduced by 40% each; and funds to get children digitally connected have been cut completely.