The education reform being imposed by Mexico’s leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) administration — which will affect both curriculum and texts for all levels of public education, from pre-school to high school — is nothing short of a political rewriting of history to favor the institutionalization of the president’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) rhetoric, warned a former head of basic education Saturday, Jan. 29.

“Educational reforms must be carried out only after careful and extensive academic examination by historical experts,” not by politicians, Gilberto Guevara Niebla, former undersecretary of basic education and author of Mexico’s first national learning evaluation exams, told Reforma newspaper.

“To do otherwise is can only be described as an exercise in demagoguery, like many other things that the current government has done in regards to educational matters.”

Guevara Niebla went on to say that allowing a politically motivated rewriting of texts and curriculum constitutes “an act of demagoguery that can end up doing tremendous damage to our national education system.”

Guevara Niebla’s comments came in the wake of an announcement Saturday by Mexican Public Education (SEP) Secretary Delfina Gómez that AMLO’s “new educational model” will cover not only basic education, but also upper and higher secondary education.

In a Senate meeting with Morena’s caucus, Gómez said that the changes are part of the government’s “new social dynamic.”

“As far as upper secondary education is concerned, the educational model of the Fourth Transformation (4T) is being developed and these foundations are being laid, precisely, as the new Mexican education system,” she said.

In order to create the country’s new public education academic curriculum plan, Gómez said that the government is appealing to the general public to submit proposals and models, as well as texts.

But Guevara Niebla said that before rewriting the nation’s education curriculum, a prior diagnosis should be carried out in order to have accurate information on the current situation of education in Mexico and to be able to make appropriate adjustments.

The proposal to dramatically modify the current educational model, based on political assemblies, without updated data and with little or no public transparency, is a blatant act of irresponsibility on the part of the federal government, he said.

Likewise, he said that leading experts in a range of fields are required to reform the nation’s academic guidelines and syllabus.

Guevara Niebla also said that more federal financial resources must be allocated to education.

He warned that measures such as the disappearance of the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education (INEE) have left the Mexico without data or learning metrics, thus lowering its educational standards on an international level.

“We have people who are very knowledgeable about curricular design, but I can assure you that they are not in the SEP,” he said.

“Does it make sense to change the nation’s study plans once again? The president insists on his rhetoric and his monotonous allegations that the current curriculums were designed by neoliberal intellectuals (as the justification of his enforced curriculum changes). It is absurd that each president, in order to wrap himself with glory, wants to change the national academic curriculum.”

Guevara Niebla also pointed out that the SEP does not currently have financial resources to redesign the curriculums given that almost all of the secretariat’s education finances for the year have been earmarked for scholarships.

“The SEP simply does not have the resources to hire experts who are qualified to renew or update the current study plans,” he said.

Meanwhile, Karen Lizette Matías López, pedagogue and member of the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s (UNAM) Coordination of Educational Development and Curriculum Innovation, pointed out that the SEP’s proposed method of collecting plans from the general public to redesign the national curriculum is both vague and ambiguous.

“One of the things that has happened in this administration is that there has been a lot of ambiguity regarding the study plan,” she said.

“That is not the ideal process to propose a study plan. At this point, it is very disconcerting that there is no official plan.”

She also said that it is absurd to rewrite both the curriculum and texts used for public education simultaneously, since “first the plans and study programs must be specified and then the accompanying textbooks must be written.”

“The curricular design and the design of educational materials should not overlap,” she said.

“Moreover, how long is all this process going to take? To collect opinions from across the country, reach a national agreement and implement a new education model in what remains of the president’s six-year term?” she asked rhetorically. “I don’t think there will be enough time time.”

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