Mexico is experiencing a historic reduction in school enrollment and it is not only because of the pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexicoin February 2022, Fabrizio was about to finish his first semester in Mechatronics careerin the National Polytechnic Institute. He even signed up for the next semester, but the online classes came and although he tried to attend them, I had already lost interestyes He then dropped out of school.

Fabrizio now knows that I was going through a depressive episode because of the confinement. In addition, he tells us, online classes were quite irregular and never appealed to him. Moreover, he feels that he just wasted his time and learned nothing.

Like Fabrizio, at least half a million students dropped out of school during the pandemicwhich caused a historic drop in school enrollment at all educational levels, warned the organization Mexico Evaluateswhich is dedicated to monitoring the operation of government programs and budgets.

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Nevertheless, This trend has already been observed since before the pandemic forced classrooms to close. 366,954 young people have not enrolled in high school since 2019.

“8% of young people who finish high school do not enter high school. This problem was not caused by the pandemic; In this government, a drop in enrollment in upper secondary education was observed for the first time, despite the Benito Juárez Scholarships,” he pointed out. Marco Fernandezresearch associate of Mexico Evaluates.

According to an analysis carried out in conjunction with the School of Government and Public Transformation of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, the greatest decrease was in the preschool level, whose enrollment decreased 13%, followed by upper secondary education (7%); primary (4%), secondary (3%) and higher (1%).

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Regarding school dropout, private schools recorded the largest reduction, with 26%, which means that more than 250 thousand students left this type of school. In addition, federal spending on education in the first quarter of 2022 was below what was recorded for the same period in 2021.

Between January and May, the organization said, the Secretary of Public Education spent little more than 111,000 million pesoswhich means a drop of 23.6%, equivalent to a reduction of 34,000 million pesos compared to the same period in 2021.

“It returned to spending levels similar to those of 2011,” he warned. Mexico Evaluates.

learning loss

Martha has a daughter and a son in a public elementary school From Mexico City. Although they did not drop out of school, the girl and boy, who were in third and fifth year of elementary schoolrespectively, saw their use diminished.

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“We didn’t have the tools for them to attend all of their classes online, so they took turns using a tablet that we had to buy. The computer we had was very slow and therefore it was not an option to have a zoom connection, ”he told us.

“For the following year, which has already begun to be face-to-face, we realized that they arrived with many gaps.”

The study of Mexico Evaluates found that after return to face-to-face classes in Mexicowhich lasted until June 2021, the students did not solve tests that they used to they could reply.

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According to the organization, Mexico lost a year and a half of learning after school closures.

This affects the development of students, since learning loss can be defined as any specific or general loss of knowledge and skills or the lag in academic progress due to gaps or discontinuities in a person’s education, according to this article from the Education and Development Forum.

A document of International Journal of Educational Development warned that after five months of confinement and closure of schools a loss of 0.6 years of school learning was recorded and a 25 percent increase in tests rated “poor” on standardized tests. The increases in this type of affectation and learning poverty worsened in the poorest countries.

In Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States, for example, primary school children were found to be losing their math problem-solving skills.

Taking as a base 0.33 as equivalent to one year of school learning, Mexico accumulates 0.55, say a year and a halfrefers the study of Mexico Evaluates and the Tec de Monterrey.

Meanwhile, in Brazil and Russia, where the confinement was not extended, this type of loss was not recorded. The study shows that the poorest students and those who already had previous problems were the most affected.

The organization pointed out that in Nuevo León, as a result of the results of the High School exam it was found that only 4 out of 10 students passed itwhile the basic state test practiced in Guanajuato there was an increase of 2% in students with lower performance.

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Nevertheless, Mexico Evaluates warned that only the states of Nuevo Leon, Guanajuato and Queretaro have made diagnostic evaluationsso the information is still insufficient.

Mexico Evaluates warns that the authorities have been negligent in the face of the emergency situation facing public education in Mexico and that an evidence-based action plan needs to be implemented to address the effects on learning, the drop in enrollment and the problems of educational inequality. Failure to do so will perpetuate a cycle of inequality and poverty for the country’s students,” she warned.

Will the government implement public policies to reverse school backwardness?