01.03.08. Education system overview | Mexico

01.03.08. Education system overview | Mexico

11 Jul 2022

The educational system in Mexico is shared between central and regional authorities. Each of the 32 federal entities (31 states and Mexico City) operates their own education services and administrative norms that have not guaranteed equal success in the implementation of recent policy reforms or granted increased quality of education (Education Policy Outlook – OECD, n.d.). The National Union of Education Workers[1], with leaders in each state, has a strong lobby power and plays an important role in defining primary education policy issues, while most decisions in lower secondary education are taken by the central or state governments. Expenditure on education institutions as a percentage of GDP (for all educational levels combined) is above the OECD average, with a higher share of private funding than the OECD average (OECD, 2013). Mexico made upper secondary education compulsory in 2012 (aiming for universal coverage by 2022), extending compulsory education from early childhood and education and care (ECEC) starting at age 4-5 to around age 15.

According to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, Mexico is among the few countries with improvements in both equity and quality of education. Although its performance remains below the OECD average in mathematics, science, and reading, Mexico has achieved improvements in mathematics and reading, but remains unchanged with respect to their performance in science across assessment cycles. However, grade repetition is high, and there is a gap with other OECD countries in upper secondary and tertiary attainment, enrolment, graduation, and performance (OECD, 2013).

Literacy in Mexico is defined as those 15 years and older who cannot read or write a short message. Literacy rates among the population 15 years and older in 2015 was 95.3 with slight difference between men (96.2) and women (94.6). Among adults aged 65 years and older, gender differences are larger with rates of 84.5 and 77.4 for men and women, respectively (80.7 total) (UNESCO, n.d.). In addition, by 2015, large differences prevail among states with respect to their total literacy with rates of 84 in more deprived states such as Oaxaca and Chiapas and Mexico City and 98 in the State of Mexico and Mexico City (INEGI, n.d.-b).

[1] Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, SNTE.


Education Policy Outlook – OECD. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2019, from http://www.oecd.org/education/policy-outlook/

INEGI. (n.d.-b). Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas. DENUE. Retrieved March 16, 2020, from https://www.inegi.org.mx/app/mapa/denue/

OECD. (2013). Education Policy Outlook Mexico. http://www.oecd.org/education/policy-outlook/

UNESCO. (n.d.). Education and Literacy data by country. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/mx