By MARK LORENZANA
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is “pawning” Mexico’s future with his “preference for improvisation,” according to economist, author and journalist Jorge Suarez Velez in his weekly column for Mexican daily newspaper Reforma on Thursday, Aug. 25.
This “improvisation,” according to Suarez Velez, is manifested in López Obrador’s penchant for promoting his friends “without experience or technical knowledge” to work at important government posts “where they handle budgets in the billions of pesos.” The most damaging example of AMLO’s improvisation, however, said Suarez Velez, is the country’s current educational policy.
“Sociologist Neil Postman says that children are ‘a living message that we send to a world we will no longer see.’ AMLO, however, sends a devastating one: of ignorance, resentment, conformism and dependence,” Suarez Velez wrote. “Instead of teaching children to yearn, to overcome, he prefers that they learn to hate those who are successful.”
Suarez Velez, in his column, mentioned that Mexico ranked 36th out of 37 members in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, which measures school aptitudes in mathematics, science and reading comprehension. “We were also the country that closed its schools for the longest time, 53 weeks (the average was 20), during the pandemic,” he wrote. “The delay will be irreversible for millions. If we add school dropouts, since 7 million children do not go to school, 1.3 million more than before the pandemic, the crisis is alarming.”
But perhaps more importantly, Suarez Velez highlighted that Mexico’s competitive advantage will depend on the skills of its population in the knowledge economy, which is a big problem because right now “in Mexico, only 26 percent of students who enter basic education finish higher education.”
“According to education NGO México Evalúa, 13 programs were canceled last year, including full-time schools, teaching careers and strengthening educational excellence,” wrote Suarez Velez.
Even now, Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), under its new head, Leticia Ramírez, is set to implement a controversial learning plan for all Mexican public and private schools that focuses on indoctrinating — instead of educating — students, and specifically by praising López Obrador’s so-called Fourth Transformation (4T).
On the contrary, what the Mexican government should focus on is developing a solid educational methodology for its young people, said Suarez Velez.
“While we do not satisfy the most basic learning of our young people — reading comprehension and basic arithmetic — South Korea, China and Finland have developed a solid educational methodology, and recruit and train excellent teachers,” Suarez Velez wrote. “These teachers have promising careers in their countries, and they guarantee that no child is left behind, regardless of ability. They know that what they plant today with the children, they will reap in 20 or 30 years.”