Education Systems in North America Part II: Mexico

In Mexico, everyone has the right to education and education is mandatory for “primaria” (Primary Education) and “secundaria” (Lower-Secondary Education). The Federal Government, through the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP), regulates the education system in Mexico. According to the SEP, Education Preescolar (Preschool education) is in the process of being converted into a mandatory part of basic education.

The education system is organized into five levels: Educación Preescolar, Educación Primaria, Educación Secundaria, Educación Media Superior (Upper-Secondary Education), and Educación Superior (Higher Education). Basic education includes the first three levels of education and has the largest number of students. According to the SEP, students in basic education made up 75.9% of the education system for the 2008-2009 school year. Comparatively, upper-secondary education makes up 11.6% of total enrollment, higher education represents 8% of total enrollment, and job training represents the remaining 4.5%.

There are two main grading scales that are used in Mexico: a 10-point scale and a 100-point scale. Depending on the institution, a grade of either 6 (60) or 7 (70) may be considered failing. For institutions where a grade of 6 (60) is a passing grade, the scale is usually as follows:

10-Point Scale

100-Point Scale

Description

9.0-10

90-100

Muy bien (Very good)

8.0-8.9

80-89

Bien (Good)

7.0-7.9

70-79

Regular (Average)

6.0-6.9

60-69

Suficiente (Sufficient)

0-5.9

0-59

Reprobado (Fail)

For institutions where a grade of 7 (70) is a passing grade, the scale is usually as follows:

10-Point Scale

100-Point Scale

Description

9.0-10

90-100

Muy bien (Very good)

8.0-8.9

80-89

Bien (Good)

7.0-7.9

70-79

Suficiente (Sufficient)

0-6.9

0-69

Reprobado (Fail)

There is a national curriculum for all institutions that receive funding from the Mexican government. For upper-secondary school education, students must take courses in Spanish (reading, writing, literature), a foreign language, social sciences, history of Mexico, socioeconomic structure of Mexico, history, geography, ethics, philosophy, math, computers, chemistry, biology, physics, ecology, research methodology, training for work, and extracurricular activities.

Higher education in Mexico is classified into three levels according to the SEP: higher technician, Bachelor’s degree, and postgraduate studies. There are two-year, four-year, and longer postgraduate studies programs that are public, private, technological, or teacher training colleges, universities, institutions, or institutes. In total, there are over one thousand institutions of higher education in Mexico.

The most common credentials earned in Mexico are the Bachillerato, the Título, and the Licenciatura. The Bachillerato is awarded at the completion of upper-secondary school, while the Título and the Licenciatura are awarded at post-secondary institutions.