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Schools in Mexico: Funding, But Not Enough for Phys Ed or Desks

Daniela Pastrana - Inter Press Service
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September 13, 2013
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Students and teachers from a physical education school in Michoacán take part in protests in Mexico City. Credit: Daniela Pastrana/IPS

MEXICO CITY - On his first day of fourth grade, Efraín found there were no desks or benches in the classroom in his Mexico City school. His parents had to help the teacher haul in furniture from other rooms so the children wouldn’t have to start the new school year sitting on the floor.

That day, Aug. 19, Efraín’s mother found out about the suspension of the swimming programme that served 15,000 public school students in the capital and had functioned successfully for 10 years.

She also learned of the start of teacher protests, which culminated in a national teachers’ strike on Wednesday Sept. 11.

“Being in the swim programme was a privilege for your children,” a public ministry official told the parents who demanded an explanation.

The parents didn’t know it, but the disappearance – by presidential decree – of the general directorate of physical education was merely the start of a series of changes in public education, planned by the conservative government of Enrique Peña Nieto.

The reforms have triggered an insurrection by teachers in roughly two-thirds of Mexico’s 31 states.

The problem is not a shortage of funds for education. The educational system, which serves some 26 million primary school students and 4.3 million secondary students, receives 17.5 percent of the federal budget.

But 93 percent of that goes to salaries of teachers and other staff according to “Education at a Glance 2013” by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the so-called “rich countries’ club”.

The report says that is the highest proportion among OECD countries, which include Mexico.

Read the rest at Inter Press Service

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