By KELIN DILLON
On Tuesday, April 26, Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) announced it would be overhauling the nation’s public education system, replacing established textbooks and standardized exams with a curriculum based on the leftist ideology of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) so-called Fourth Transformation (4T).
According to SEP Director of Educational Materials Marx Arriaga, the new educational plan will replace the “the neoliberal model” with teachings that are “libertarian, humanist, anti-racist, and with standardized tests that segregate society,” providing little explanation on how these changes will be implemented.
“We say it loud and clear: We do not accept that the National Commission of Free Textbooks (Conaliteg) continues to spend public money, as it has done since the 1990s, on textbooks that continue in the neoliberal education model,” said Arriaga, going on to say that the last three years of the AMLO administration have been used to “reengineer this bureaucratized and dehumanized institution,” referring to the SEP.
Arriaga went on to say that the new education plan is being brought forth to turn educators into social leaders rather than “reproducers of neoliberalism,” and end an existing educational system that is “meritocratic, elitist, patriarchal and racist,” encouraging students to “share” rather than “compete.”
The SEP likewise took the moment to likewise announce the secretariat’s federal takeover of the Mexican states’ payroll systems, “assuming the control of the state educational payroll and supporting its financing by freeing states from spending pressure and giving certainty of payment to workers,” said SEP Administration and Finance Unit official Óscar Flores.
The move has not been without criticism; educational experts across Mexico have admonished the new educational plan as they say it will prevent students from making up time they lost in the classroom throughout the covid-19 pandemic’s widespread school closures – especially students who dropped out during that time period – and prioritizing ideology over pedagogy.
“It is a completely ideologized proposal, at least in the general approach, which borders on the absurd where it seems that all of the above is terrible and neoliberal,” said the Center of Investigation and Advanced Studies’ (Cinvestav) Alma Maldonado.
“The most ironic thing of all is that this discussion does not focus on the educational emergency, (The SEP officials) intend to behave as if nothing has happened, as if enrollment in the different educational systems has not been lowered,” added Tec de Monterrey educational specialist Marco Fernández.