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Mexico Spends $27 Million a Year on Schools That Don't Exist

Jan-Albert Hootsen - Vocative
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June 5, 2014

Students work diligently in a classroom in Oaxaca, Mexico. Teacher helps students in the background. (Corbis/Viviane Moos)

MEXICO CITY — There’s no running water or electricity at the Seis de Enero primary school in Porfirio Parra, a small village along the U.S. border in northern Mexico. The school’s classrooms are full of rusty furniture and broken windows. There aren’t enough tables or chairs for the roughly 100 students, and many have to make do without pencils or paper.

“Conditions are just really bad here,” says Erik Guevara, the school’s principal. “We can’t make things better.”

Experts say there are tens of thousands of schools like Seis de Enero in Mexico. But when it comes to public schools in Mexico, run-down buildings and classrooms without electricity are just the tip of the iceberg. Recently, the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think tank here in the country’s capital, published a report that sent shockwaves through Mexico, describing an education system that’s cluttered with corruption.

The report, which is based on public government records, makes several bold claims. The first is that the government spends $27 million per year on schools that don’t even exist. The second is that there are more than 1,440 people over the age of 100 who work as teachers in Mexico—nearly all of them at the same school just north of Mexico City. These teachers all apparently have the same date of birth: Dec. 12, 1912.

Equally surprising: The report says more than 90,000 teachers in Mexico make over $3,500 a month, a salary that puts them among the richest 10 percent of the country. The report also found that there are 70 teachers nationwide who make more than $11,300 a month—the same salary as President Enrique Peña Nieto. There is even one teacher in southern Mexico who the report says makes a whopping $50,000 a month.

Read the rest at Vocative

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