Tuesday, July 12, 2005

education in Edo Mex

July has a couple of notable Sundaysin Toluca. The first is usually an electiondate: national or state or municipal, depending upon the year. People vote inabout the same numbers as they do in the U.S.but usually emotions do not run high or arethere many surprises when the results come in.
The second Sunday is the one that people await with anticipation and fear, for theresults are less predictable and much morerelevant to their lives. On this EducationSunday, the newspapers have a fifty pagesupplement, mostly consisting of code numbers.Each number represents an applicant to thestate's public high schools and university UAEM (Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico).

The Jimenez Gonzaga family has two daughters,ages 14 and 17. Both are responsible and studious.The younger just graduated from public middle school(secundaria as it is called here), while theelder just finished public high school (preparatoria).Each girl had earned high grades, but had to payalmost 600 pesos each to take a special exam to get into the next level of public education. The youngerwants to go to the public high school that iscollege prep (right where her sister went and succeeded). The older one wants to go to UAEMand study accounting.

The Sunday newspaper contained good news and badnews for the Jimenez Gonzaga family. The youngerdaughter was accepted, and if they can come upwith another registration fee in ten days (andafford to pay for books and uniform) their daughtercan go to the public high school. The bad news wasthat the older daughter was not accepted into theschool of accounting at UAEM.
Across this state, UAEM accepted thirteen thousandstudents, all of whom had good high school grades,good test scores, and the luck of the final lotterytype selection. The programs drawing the greatestnumber of applications were medicine, law, gastronomy(food service management), psychology, dentistry, andarchitecture.

What happens to the seventeen thousand (57% of theapplicants) who were rejected? There are no communitycolleges to attend with hopes of transfering into UAEMas a sophomore or junior. The applicants could waitand try next year, with an even larger number ofrecent graduates. Another alternative presented itselfin the same newspapers: hundreds of ads for privateuniversities. The really good ones (Monterrey Techor Iberoamericana) don't have to advertise anymorethan M.I.T. or Stanford do. The places that do advertise have the reputation of a University ofPhoenix.
There is one more last hope. The newspaper mentionedthat there are still some slots open at UAEM, andif the applicant wants to pay another applicationfee August 8 and take another test August 14 (foryet another fee), she can complete for one of thosefew slots. There are no more accounting slots forthe big UAEM campus Toluca, so the Jimenez Gonzagafamily must choose if their daughter will apply fora slot in Tourism at the Toluca campus or for anaccounting slot at a branch campus inTemascaltepec, an hour and a half away, and thenfigure out how to pay room and board in additionto tuition, books, and of course, more fees.

The real tragedy is occurring on the high schoollevel. A third of the applicants to the publichigh schools in this state did not gain acceptance.Most working class families cannot afford to sendtheir children to the growing number of privatehigh schools. Thanks to child labor laws, you haveto be 18 to get a good job (such as on the assemblyline making PT Cruisers at the Daimler plant). So,what becomes of a 15 year old boy who doesn't makeit into high school? The lucky ones go back touncle Joe's farm, or work in a family business.The really unlucky one's get their pictures on thepoliciaca pages of the newspapers.

1 Comments:

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2:31 PM  

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