On a beautiful misty evening in Florida, while enjoying a feast, my husband Keg made an announcement. He said “We are going to Mexico”. The kids rejoiced, “Wow!!! Holiday”. Keg hesitantly said “Yup”. I could sense he was anxious. I asked him later “Where, in Mexico?”. “Toluca”, he said softly. “For how many days?”, I asked. “I don’t know”, Keg answered, looking at me reluctantly. I knew something was wrong. I wish I was wrong. And I was shocked to learn that not only we were going to Mexico; we were moving to Mexico. My world blurred at that moment.
After arguing for days with Keg, I finally decided to accept it. We already had wasted a lot of time, and both of us were worried about our kids’ schooling. We just had 15 days, and I had to maximise those to find the right school for my kids in Toluca. A few of Keg’s friends were either living or knew someone who moved to Mexico who could guide us to explore all the schooling options.
After plenty of discussions and research, I found that the schooling system of Mexico is divided into two parts:
Educación Basica (Basic Education)
1) Educación Preescolar (early childhood education for Age 3–6): Pre-school is not mandatory.
2) Educación Primaria (elementary education for Grades 1–6 and Age 6-12): Primary School is mandatory for all students.
3) Educación Secundaria (lower-secondary education for Grades 7–9 and Age 12-15): Junior High School is a part of Mexico’s basic compulsory education system.
Educación Média Superior (Upper Secondary Education for Grades 10–12 and Age 15-18):
1) Bachillerato General (general academic)
2) Bachillerato Tecnológico (technological education)
3) Profesional Técnico (vocational and technical education)
Public Schools in Mexico
Public Schools in Mexico provide free of charge education. Free textbooks are provided to primary school children. Parents are responsible for providing textbooks for high school students. The minimum passing percentage for each grade is 60 per cent. School session begins from September to June. The medium of instruction in public schools is Spanish, which is suitable for expat children if they are bilingual. Unfortunately, in my case, I can’t put my kids in a Mexican public school as they speak in English and they are learning French in school.
Private Schools in Mexico
Private schools in Mexico offer good quality education, a broader curriculum and use English as a medium of instruction. I got mixed reviews from expatriates about the infrastructure and they advised us to first visit the school before deciding on one. Shortlisting a private school would be difficult as I don’t think we can afford them.
I was quite unsure about the quality of education in Mexico as the OECD PISA study 2018 revealed that students’ performance in reading, mathematics and science was not up to the mark. Mexico is ranked 46th among 50 countries in the 2018 Rankings of National Higher Education Systems by Universitas21 Network. And to add to my misery, I read that Mexico’s National Teacher’s Union (SNTE) is charged with corruption every now and then.
Further, IMCO, Mexican Institute of Competitiveness found that although English is the language of business in Mexico, only 5% of the population speaks or understands it. That added to my uncertainty, I didn’t want my kids to learn Spanish forcefully. If they want to learn a new language, I wanted to make sure whether they are willing to do so or not.
It seemed that homeschooling was the only option for us. Though homeschooling is legal in Mexico still I was sceptic about it.
One of Keg’s friends mentioned how he enrolled his daughter to an accredited online school. I thought there’s no harm in exploring another option. I learnt about online schools which serve expats and literally every type of learner, anywhere in the world. Online schools are tailor-made to every learner’s needs and every parent’s concern. Internet is penetrating everywhere which allows learners to access video tutorials, grade books, e-textbooks and online tracking & planning tools offered via online schools. Having said that, I wanted to ensure a high-quality educational program is provided by the school, so I shortlisted an accredited online school which provides American High School Diploma – a credible outcome with worldwide acceptance. Online schools give every parent the liberty to structure their kids’ education with the help of academic and technical support.
A combination of a rigorous curriculum and comprehensive assessment methods will lead my kids and other young learners hailing from diverse backgrounds to a brighter path. A shot in the dark enlightened me.