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viejogatomalo

Mar 10, 2005, 5:13 AM

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Education in Mexico

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Since arriving here (Chapala) I have been struck by the young appearing professionals (medical). I have asked three different people about the structure of education in Mexico and have received three different views ( two were Mexicanos). Is the system national or state regulated?
One view explained that a child goes eight years to school as is required by law and then enters two years of pre-university, then the university itself. Those who do not continue then enter the trades or other occupation. This does seem a more attractive system than the US where children are allowed to have four years to join gangs and get pregnant in high school.
Of course, my view of the young appearing professionals may be colored by the fact that I am 71.
Richard



Ed and Fran

Mar 10, 2005, 6:20 AM

Post #2 of 29 (3775 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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One view explained that a child goes eight years to school as is required by law and then enters two years of pre-university, then the university itself.


Doesn't sound familiar to me. Our son and neice (both Mexican) attend local public school. It's 6 years in Primaria (= Grammar School), 3 years in Secundaria (= Jr High) and 3 years in Preparatoria (= High School).

The Preparatorias here are largely tech oriented, because so many students don't go on to university (a lot don't even go on to Preparatoria/High School).


This does seem a more attractive system than the US where children are allowed to have four years to join gangs and get pregnant in high school.

Gangs and teen pregnancy are no strangers to Mexico.


While I'm not familiar with current educational standards in the States, I can compare what I see in Junior's textbooks (he's in 9th grade), and to me it seems like the level of the study materials here is at least a year, and maybe more, behind what I was used to when I was in his grade level.


jmho


E(&F)




jennifer rose

Mar 10, 2005, 9:39 AM

Post #3 of 29 (3734 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] Education in Mexico

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Different prepas have different emphases. Students who are in what we would refer to as the "college prep" track in the US take a specialized curriculum in Mexico, most generally: physics-mathematics, chemistry-biology, economics-administration, history-social science. Those who are planning to study engineering would take the former, those planning on medical school the second, and so on. Preparatoria culminates in what's called bachillerato. The target age for completion would be eighteen years of age, although it's not unusual to find a student who is 19 or 20.

The university program for medical, dental or law school is five years. Just the same as a licienatura in English literature. The university curriculum doesn't include soft courses and electives like Western Civilization or underwater baskweaving, unless, of course, you were a humanities or art major. The curriculum for each career is narrowly defined, with strict emphasis upon the core curriculum of the student's major.

Consequently, it is possible in Mexico to graduate from medical or law school at the age of twenty-three.

In the United States, medical, dental and law schools are doctoral programs, requiring completion of a four-year university degree first. Assuming an American would finish undergrad at the age of twenty-two, a physican or dentist would have to complete four more years and a lawyer three after that.


jerezano

Mar 10, 2005, 2:05 PM

Post #4 of 29 (3696 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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Hello,

And to answer your question the Mexican Education System is Federal.

Adios. Jerezano


jrice

Mar 12, 2005, 9:01 PM

Post #5 of 29 (3578 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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Mexico, like the United States, has a fairly complicted education system -- one which has become more complicated over the past few years as the federal government has spun off much direct control to states, who now handle the day to day financing of schools in most parts of Mexico, though the curriculum is a federal matter.

The answers you've gotten so far are very good and should give you a good idea.

One interesting twist to the Mexican system is that a few major universities, particularly UNAM, are sort of rivals of the federal Eduacation Secretariat in accrediting preparatorias (in this case, college-oriented high schools).
Some schools follow the SEP (federal education secretariat) program and others, in the Mexico City area at least, follow UNAM.

As is the case with medicine, at least, there is a dramatic variation in the quality of education from system to system, from school to school. Some places are very, very good and some are abysmal. That often applies even within the same institution -- a byproduct of the specialization that Jennifer mentioned. For example, some of the programs and people at UNAM are world class and some are awful -- but often better than some of the so-called universities run by God knows who on previously vacant lots all over the Valley of Mexico.

Mexico also has very active private school systems for k-high school -- some are quite good, some pure jokes -- and a very troubled but varied public school system.

Now when you get into special education . . .


Carol Schmidt


Mar 13, 2005, 1:08 PM

Post #6 of 29 (3528 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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There's a news story in today's Herald (Mexican edition of the Miami Herald, in English) that says all of Latin American places only one university among the top 200 in the world, and that's one of the UNAM campuses in Mexico noted for its law and medicine divisions, though its other areas such as business administration are poor--and that university placed 195 out of the top 200.

The article implies that the report should be a wake up call to Mexican and other Latin American universities about their poor quality.

Carol Schmidt


jrice

Mar 13, 2005, 7:45 PM

Post #7 of 29 (3490 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Education in Mexico

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Agreed -- education in general is a problem in Mexico, at least.

There certainly are problems in ranking universities. As the name implies, they are awfully complicated. You can get a crappy education at a great school, and sometimes vice versa.

There has been a tendency in Mexico in recent years to emphasize private education. Many of those schools provide good educations, but very few of them are serious research institutions in the American sense. They tend to aim at turning out tuition-paying students, not at driving technology or knowlege.

Tec de Monterrey, which probably has the best overall reputation among the private schools, until recently at least said on its web site that it was working to become a full-fledged research university. ITAM has a much more prestigious political science department.

UNAM is a mess. It has some abysmal departments, and appalling bureaucracy.

But it also accounts for an astonishing percentage of the research -- hard and soft sciences -- in Mexico, and perhaps in Latin America. Even Mexico's best private schools tend to focus on turning out MBAs, doctors and engineers. UNAM has at least two institutions doing very sophisticated genetic engineering involving large numbers of people who have spent years doing post-doc work at places such as Stanford.

That is to say, UNAM is one of those institutions that add to the world's scientific knowlege. Most Mexican "universities" are really high-class trade schools.


carlw

Mar 14, 2005, 10:33 AM

Post #8 of 29 (3445 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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While most of the discussion here has been on advanced education and development of prefessionals, the issue of education for non-professionals is important for Mexicans. Having spent a lot of time in Central Mexico, particularly Hidalgo State, I see the educational system as a big problem both for Mexico and the USA. In order to get more than a 6th grade level education, regardless of what the national requirement is, the average Mexican outside the largest cities has to have some money. People I met in the US who migrated here to work have typically, after 6th grade in their local school, been unable to continue on. They went to work somewhere, either in a larger Mexican city or in the USA. It is not at all unusual to find 13 and 14 year old Mexican people trying to cross the border into the US because there is no more school for them and no work they want to do in Mexico. Of course, they are in for a shock when they finally get to the USA and find there is no job for an 80 pound 13 year-old. My friends who have brought their families here did so to ensure an educational opportunity, since any schooling after 6th grade involved tuition and often several hours of travel every day from their small villages or towns to someplace with an acceptable school. Other children whose parents are in Mexico were sent to live with aunts and uncles to get the opportunity to go to high school in the USA. Their parents' intent is they would then return home to attend university and participate in the family business, but 4 years in a US high school produces a fully acculturated American who has no interest in anything in Mexico. For the average Mexican, I think the educational system there still has a long way to go.


Ed and Fran

Mar 14, 2005, 12:12 PM

Post #9 of 29 (3427 views)

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Re: [carlw] Education in Mexico

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I'm a little confused by a couple of things you said:


In order to get more than a 6th grade level education, regardless of what the national requirement is, the average Mexican outside the largest cities has to have some money.

Tuxpan hardly classifies as a large city. Junior is in 3rd year of Secundaria (= Jr High School) and there's no tuition. From what I've seen so far in our search to decide which Preparatoria he will attend starting next year (think 10th - 12th grade = high school) there isn't any tuition involved either.


My friends who have brought their families here did so to ensure an educational opportunity, since any schooling after 6th grade involved tuition and often several hours of travel every day from their small villages or towns to someplace with an acceptable school.

I don't doubt that if they live way out there would be considerable travel involved. But unless you're referring to private schools, I still question the statement about tuition.


For the average Mexican, I think the educational system there still has a long way to go.

I agree completely.


Regards

E(&F)


Carol Schmidt


Mar 14, 2005, 12:54 PM

Post #10 of 29 (3419 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] Education in Mexico

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The cost of attending public school may not include tuition but it does include uniforms and books, and those may be too much for poorer families. I think I remember the figure being around $210 US per high school student in costs to the family, even if not tuition, in San Miguel. Besides uniforms and books there were such supplies as a back pack and sports outfits. There aer several charitable organizations in SMA which give money to help keep high school students in school as well as college scholarships.

Carol Schmidt


jennifer rose

Mar 14, 2005, 1:17 PM

Post #11 of 29 (3414 views)

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Re: [carlw] Education in Mexico

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For more than thirty years, telesecundaria has brought secundaria to studens in rural and remote villages. At no charge to the students.

Conalep (Colegio Nacional de Educación Profesional Técnica) -- the largest technical education system in the country -- offers tuition-free training to students, most of which are low income, in a broad range of fields ranging from computers to carpentry. Cecati is another program of public industrial education, which has been around since the days of Lopez Mateos. I'm not sure where Conalep intersects with Cecati. But I do know that among Cecati's programs have been ones which emphasis production, development and marketing of artesania as well as foreign languages. And those are offered at no charge.

For low-income students, there are a range of prepas which do not charge tuition, and many private ones do offer scholarships.

Now, I'm not saying that Mexican education is by any means the best in the world, but there are opportunities. Even in my colonia are offered classes in sewing, hairdressing, and computers, free of charge.

And for students who can't hack it in the regular secundaria, there are "open secundarias" which offer a student a chance to get what would be the equivalent of a G.E.D.

Let's take Octavio, the 15-year old down the street. A nice kid, with a motivated but humble family. After spending hours of her time (on my nickel, since she works for me) dealing with school conferences at the secundaria, she threw up her hands, hoping against hope that he'd go to the secundaria abierta. His interest in computers lasted a full day after I gave him an old computer. His odd job money pays for his tattoos and tongue studs. His best hope is to emigrate, where he'll have to deal without having that safety net of familiar territory. A decade ago, I would've written the same about Antonio, another kid down the block, who quit every technical school program he was enrolled in, whose idea of working here was sleeping in a hammock, and who finally went to Georgia, where he's a foreman of a sheet-rock crew, is buying a home and drives a Lincoln Continental.

And my point? The educational opportunties are here.


(This post was edited by jennifer rose on Mar 14, 2005, 1:20 PM)


jennifer rose

Mar 14, 2005, 1:39 PM

Post #12 of 29 (3411 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Education in Mexico

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Did you know that SEP provides free textbooks to primaria and secundaria students? Or that uniforms aren't required? Or that public schools offer students' parents the opportunity to earn scholarships for supplies and other needs by providing "sweat equity" in the way of donated painting and gardening at the school?


tonyburton


Mar 14, 2005, 6:41 PM

Post #13 of 29 (3366 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Education in Mexico

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For more about the telesecundaria system, see an earlier article of mine on this site:
http://www.mexconnected.com/...icles/tbdid1203.html


julian3345

Mar 14, 2005, 7:30 PM

Post #14 of 29 (3354 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Education in Mexico

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Educational opportunities may be there, but your anecdote about Octavio and Antonio demonstrates what most young Mexicans know... that there is little opportunity to convert those hours of study into gainful and suitable employment, so why bother? The guys I know who left school at 12 to start working (making bricks, etc) to get enough money to cross the border at 15 tell me that the minute they started working in Nebraska or California, etc...they were making a lot more money than their teachers here in Mexico. They return, often bilingual, driving nice cars, with enough money to build a house, maybe start a business and scatter largesse amongst the family. They've seen the elephant!

I've tried to argue the point with them and their families, that the better educated a population is, no matter what the political and social barriers, a critical mass of inventiveness and ambition will occur which can lead to economic progress and maybe even social change. It's a hard sell because most Mexicans have no consistent examples of this kind of educational outcome. The older generation will ask me, What makes the US different from Mexico? In answer, I tell them about the Homestead Act and the GI Bill. Joan


lls138

Mar 15, 2005, 6:55 PM

Post #15 of 29 (3293 views)

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Re: [julian3345] Education in Mexico

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I think the initial question about young professionals stil has not been answered. My wife graduated from UNAM's medical school. They start medical school at age 18 (so the students are young.). However they have to finish 5 years of medical school, one year of medical internship, and then one year of social service medcine in a poor or underserved area before they receive their degree.

So in reality, whereas American physicians go to 4 years university and then 4 years medical school....Mexican students complete 7 years of medical training.....and that doesn't include additional residency training in a specialty.

So the average "fresh" general office practictioner in mexico is 25-26 years old, but the average new specialist surgeon/internist/radiologist/cardiologist...etc, is more likely to be 30 yrs old.


raferguson


Mar 15, 2005, 8:25 PM

Post #16 of 29 (3282 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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On the issue of education in Mexico, there is the question of whether education really pays in Mexico. I don't have the data in reach at the moment, since I am not at home, but I have some information that indicates the the higher the level of education, the higher the unemployment rate! The reverse of the USA. I have another article in my file that lists the percentage of college graduates working in their field, and in some states, it is only around 10%. The rest of the college grads are waiting tables or whatever, not using their education. In having less of a focus on education, Mexicans may merely have adapted to their social and economic environment. Of course, that does not serve them well if they migrate to the USA, where education is more important and better rewarded.

We in the US believe that education pays, and it does, in the USA. In Mexico, education is not as likely to pay off, partly due to bad government and a poor economy. In some cases, and maybe that is part of the UNAM story, lower class kids get a college degree, but they are still lower class kids, and Mexico is not as mobile a society as the USA. In other words, it is harder for a poor person in Mexico to become well off than it is in the USA. Race is tied to class, so it is somewhat hard to separate those two factors.

Has anybody seen comparative social science studies about social mobility in the USA vs. Mexico? I know that one reason that immigrants love to come to the USA is the perceived opportunity to move up in social-economic class, in contrast to limited opportunities at home.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


elgringomudo


Mar 16, 2005, 12:55 AM

Post #17 of 29 (3266 views)

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Re: [lls138] Education in Mexico

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In Reply To
I think the initial question about young professionals stil has not been answered. My wife graduated from UNAM's medical school. They start medical school at age 18 (so the students are young.). However they have to finish 5 years of medical school, one year of medical internship, and then one year of social service medcine in a poor or underserved area before they receive their degree.


I thought that nearly everyone who graduated from a public university in Mexico had to serve some servicio publico time to finally get their degree, not just doctors. I thought doctors had/have to do more than 1 year (otherwise, where would the IMSS get enough doctors?).

One might complain that there's plenty of holes and deficiencies in the Mexican higher education system, but considering that they're running a whole country on less than the budget of the State of California and the per capita GDP is about 1/3rd the USA GDP per capita (albeit, twice what Brazilians and Argentines survive on) what they do manage to do is pretty impressive.
Ned Carlson Triode Electronics Chicago,IL USA
Fighting bad sound and electronic ignorance since
1985 (sorry, folks, it's taking a little longer than I thought)


lls138

Mar 16, 2005, 8:21 AM

Post #18 of 29 (3246 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Education in Mexico

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Lower class kids???? No sir, just because is free education doesn't mean that all the kids are what you call "low class kids". Let me explain something about UNAM (and other examples of public universities). UNAM as the name says is THE national university and the goverment gives the oportunity to every single citizen to study for free IF THEY PROVE THEY ARE SMART ENOUGH. So everyone goes through a hard and highly demanded admission exam. Me, personally, applied with other 1.500 students. In this university you can find since a son of one of the richest family of the country to the son of the poorest...the only thing in common is that they were smart enough to study for free. Everyone applies cause of course, everyone would like to be in one (if not THE) best university in the entire country. Let me inform you that our teachers have been highly recognized personalities in politics, economics, history, medicine, etc. etc. etc. Maybe we don't get "highly rewards" like in US but i can talk for the mayority when i say that we do it for CULTURE...which is something that, i have witnessed, IS A BIG LACK IN YOUR beloved united states. We all are bilingual since is a requisite to get a licenciature...and i have met almost none american who speaks something else than english. And for your interest, i am not from the "economic lower class" as you dare to divide our society. And i recommend you to read and inform your self about our educational programs in other reliable places rather than the internet blogs...if you really need the true and are interested in a little bit of mexican culture. Thank you very much.
Tanya Stein MD (mia_stein@hotmail.com)


lls138

Mar 16, 2005, 9:03 AM

Post #19 of 29 (3235 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Education in Mexico

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I am one of those "young medical faces" as you (and other americans that i have met) call us.
Let me inform, and assure you that our mexican educational program is federal, which means, applied to the entire country and every single citizen, public or private school.
So, ready? We make 6 years of primary school (or as you call elementary school in US), 3 years of secondary school, 3 years of pre-university school (which last year is vocational oriented since we have to choose our profession or career by this time). So if you make your math you will notice that an average kid which starts his education at 6 years old, will be 18 years old at the time he starts the unversity. In my case, i was an 18 years old fresh medical student. So, my medical education was this> 5 years of medical training, 1 year of internship (hospital clinical rotations) and 1 year of social service (yes, everyone and every single profession HAS to make a year of social service). After all that i finally got my degree. I was 24 years old.
Let me inform you that american medical students have 4 years of medical training before they get their degree.
Tanya Stein MD (mia_stein@hotmail.com)


lls138

Mar 16, 2005, 9:12 AM

Post #20 of 29 (3232 views)

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Re: [jrice] Education in Mexico

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Let me inform you and assure you that the educational program has been always federal which includes the entire country and every single citizen. SEP and UNAM are not rivals and of course are not different. They complete the exact same years at the exact same time. The only difference is administrative. I am a strong believer that the education quality relies in every person. So the education is good, some people are not that good sometimes. And i am talking about the public education which in my experience (i am a medical graduate from UNAM) had been the best (unversity) and highly recognize around the world. I invite you all to visit www.unam.mx and learn a little more.
Tanya Stein (mia_stein@hotmail.com)


lls138

Mar 16, 2005, 9:22 AM

Post #21 of 29 (3235 views)

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Re: [julian3345] Education in Mexico

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They've seen the elephant!

Which elephant? the consumist elephant? yes, that one.
A car, a house or a nice pair of nike sneakers don't make you a better person, a more intelectual one, with more culture or more useful to the society. Make u look nicer? well, yes. But then again, if he is looking just for that then i'm glad he found that in US where you can be all the ignorant you want and be a "respectable rich person".
I agree, your pay doesn't make you rich. And maybe as a doctor you get less than a taxi driver. But i haven't met any doctor who starve.
Tanya Stein (mia_stein@hotmail.com)


lls138

Mar 16, 2005, 9:28 AM

Post #22 of 29 (3230 views)

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Re: [elgringomudo] Education in Mexico

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IMSS have rural clinics around the rural parts of the country for those who are doing their social service. However, all the doctors in their hospitals and normal clinics are paid doctors. That is their job. The most of them have a public (IMSS, ISSSTE, ISSFAM, etc) and a private job. But answering your question of where do IMSS get their doctors? well, as everyone else in the world, from the universities. Is a job, not a social service.
Tanya Stein MD (mia_stein@hotmail.com)


wendy devlin

Mar 16, 2005, 10:49 AM

Post #23 of 29 (3215 views)

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Re: [lls138] Education in Mexico

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Hola Tanya,

You wrote:
>government gives the oportunity to every single citizen to study for free IF THEY PROVE THEY ARE SMART ENOUGH. So everyone goes through a hard and highly demanded admission exam.

What does this government educational assistance cover at the university level?

Does it cover entrance fees, university tuition, books...AND living expenses (room and board for example while attending a university?)

And what is this program called?

Gracias en adelante Wendy


lls138

Mar 16, 2005, 1:51 PM

Post #24 of 29 (3180 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] Education in Mexico

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Ok, elementary school and secondary are obligated and for free in all public schools. SEP regulate them. Yes, they have free text books, some of them free uniforms (some doesn't requiere them, some give them in exchange of work at school like painting the walls, cleaning the rooms, depending of the school). From highschool kids should go through an admission exam for both, highschools SEP or highschools UNAM. If they fail it they may need a private school. There are no entrance fees, all the exams are free (and to present them is your right as a citizen). No, they don't cover your living fees, you live with your family. There are no dorms or students housing like in the US. Elementary schools and highschools are all over the country. The UNAM is just in the city (some specialties are in other states like marine biology is in Baja California). And no, it doesn't cover your living, neither your books. But there are tons of libraries, and you should see the main one, is amazing!!!. Which i see very convenient when i think about all that loans that my husband (a doctor too) is still in debt. And there are a lot of ways to live. UNAM gives you scholarships (in cash) if you have a really bad financial status (and prove it) and good grades. I saw a lot with part time jobs (at the time of university all of us are adults already).


Texwheel

Mar 16, 2005, 3:02 PM

Post #25 of 29 (3158 views)

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Re: [lls138] Education in Mexico

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Dr. Tanya Stein,

Thank you so much for your kind explanation of the Mexican educational system. I am still new at trying to learn about Mexico, Mexicans and their life, and you have been very enlightening in this respect. I hope you continue to particpate in this forum, for I and others will be the better for your participation.

Don't be too critical of North Americans for not having a clearly defined culture. We are, after all, one of the greatest, if not the greatest assimilation of cultures ever known, and therefore the less clearly defined. The U.S. as a country is only a little over two hundred years old...therefore, we are a "child" as a unified culture.

We are truly a "melting pot" of many cultures, including that of Mexico.

I hope you continue to participate on this forum...in fact, I look forward to it.

Take care. Tom.

PS. Don't be timid expressing your knowledge and views. No one else on this forum is!
Tom Williams
Georgetown, Texas
Texwheel@aol.com
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