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Lesson Transcript

Culture File: Mexico - Lesson 24: The Education System
Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Mexico series at SpanishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about Mexico, Mexican Culture, and Mexican People. In this lesson, we will continue with another episode of this series about Mexican economic activities. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 24: The Education System.
The Mexican Secretariat of Public Education is the institution that oversees all the different levels of education, or "educación", in the country.
In Mexico there are four levels of education—three years of pre-school, six years of basic education—equivalent to elementary school, in Spanish called "primaria"; six years of high school, including junior high school, or "secundaria" and high school, or "preparatoria", and higher education which includes technical degrees, bachelor degrees, in Spanish "licenciaturas", masters, and PHDs. The 3rd Article of the Mexican Constitution states that every individual has the right and obligation to receive secular, compulsory, and free education, thus making basic and high school education free through public schools.
Mexico is also abundant in private schools, which tend to be bilingual and are allowed to be maintained by religious institutions. These schools are not cheap, but as the middle class grows, more parents want their children to enroll in private education.
Although education is offered for free, many poor families still struggle to send their children to school, as they have to pay for uniforms and school supplies. The country’s enrollment rate among 15-19 year-olds is just over 50%.
The Mexican government uses 6% of its GDP on public spending on education, and 83% of this education budget goes to teacher’s salaries.
Speaking of higher education, in Mexico only about 12% of 20-29 year-olds receive this level of education, discouraged by the idea that a higher education degree does not mean a lower chance of unemployment, or "desempleo". Even jobs provided by the government tend to mostly involve cheap, unskilled labor.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico, known as UNAM, located in Mexico City is the largest university in both Mexico and in all of Latin America, and is among the most prestigious schools in the Spanish-speaking world. Among its alumni are three Nobel Prize laureates—Alfonso Garcia Robles, Octavio Paz, and Mario Molina.
Mexico’s higher education institutions have been expanding, but have yet to rise to a globally competitive scale. Many Mexican students who go abroad for higher education head to the United States. The largest percentage of international students studying in Mexico are from France, the United States, and Spain.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you considered attending a higher education institution in Mexico?
Leave a comment telling us at SpanishPod101.com! Until next time!