Officially, it is 10 years of compulsory schooling from
the children are 5 until they are 15 years. The primary
school is 6-years old and high school 6-year-olds (3 + 3).
99% of children attend primary school, and over 60% continue
in high school. From 1993, a central curriculum has been
developed. The language of instruction is Spanish. English
is compulsory in high school. In 2000, almost 8% of pupils
attended private primary schools.
In 2002, Mexico had 1550 higher education institutions,
among them 52 national universities. The largest and oldest
is the National University of the capital Ciudad de Mexico,
founded in 1551 as the first university in North America.
20% of young people take higher education. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Mexico.
The country has invested heavily in eradicating
illiteracy. In 1960, approx. 35% of the adult population is
illiterate. According to UNESCO, the rate of illiteracy of
the adult population was 7.8% in 2000.
1968 The Tlatelolco Massacre
In 1968, Mexico hosted the Olympic Games. This used the
student movement to organize protests against the growing
social inequalities in the country. A few days before the
start of the games, October 2, the students organized a
demonstration at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the
working district of Tlatelolco, but the regime had decided
that the student protests should now be stopped. No
scratches should be made in the nice facade during the
games. The military therefore surrounded the square,
occupied all strategic points and attacked the
demonstration. The soldiers had been ordered to shoot to
kill. Hundreds were killed and even more injured. The exact
loss figure has never been solved, because afterwards the
military drove away the bodies and separated them. The
regime was given peace to hold its sports games.
The massacre showed many young people that it was not
possible to effect change peacefully, and the time after 68
was therefore marked by the creation of a large number of
guerrilla movements, but the young people were partly too
impatient, partly unable to win the trust of the rural
population and organize a powerful guerilla. The various
movements were crushed in a short time.
But at the same time, the social problems are deepened.
The conflicts were so great around 1970 that the political
leaders of the PRI also advocated reforms. President Luis
Echeverria (1970-76) surprised both Mexico and the outside
world with his sharp criticism of the inequalities in
Mexican society. In the 70's, more was spent on education,
agriculture and local communication than before. The
electoral system was changed so that opposition parties had
better opportunities to be represented in the National
Assembly. Already, PRI had a significant portion of the
opposition under control. The ruling party had set up a
number of political parties, allegedly serving as
opposition, but paid for by the PRI and with leaders who got
their agenda from the same place. Furthermore, PRI had
developed a tradition and ability to recruit the best cadres
from the opposition. When a leader stepped into a farmer's,
workers 'or students' organization, PRI sought to buy them
financially and politically. Preferably, the person - and
preferably the entire movement - draws into the PRI on the
basis that things could be changed more easily from the
inside. Only if this failed - as in Tlatelolco in 68 - did
the party start the repression.
But Echeverria's reforms were not profound enough. His
policy was to some extent aimed at meeting the needs of the
general public, but it was not based on a political
mobilization of the majority. Increased purchasing power
among the poor was not offset by a cut in upper-class
income. The new government spending was covered by loans and
by running the banknote press - not by progressive taxation
of the rich. The unlimited access to exchange Mexican
currency for dollars was maintained long after the
devaluation began to become inevitable. The upper class
responded by capital flight to the United States.
Echeverria's presidential term was therefore ended with a
devaluation of the Mexican peso of 100%.