About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mexico closing schools - GOOD!

The SEP (Secretariat of Public Education) in Mexico is closing down around 500 schools in Mexico, almost 100 of them in Mexico State. Good.

Most of these schools are what are called "patito" or "garage" schools where students in poor areas think they are getting an education when really they are getting some cut-rate teacher in a cruddy shack tucked away in a bad neighborhood. Very "Nine Guardians," no?

While these schools may be the only schools in some areas, it is a grave disservice to get into the pattern of simply saying "crappy education is better than no education," so you poor folks just need to suck it up and try to read your torn books in your black-mold-infested rat holes while the instructor listens to merengue music. Wish that were an exaggeration.

When asked if the Revolution is a revolution, I have always been inclined to say that absence of true democracy doesn't negate the great gains that much of the population made in education up to the 1960s or in general access to the benefits of society - again until the 1960s. As an historian, I can understand the initial thought that "patito" schools would be at least SOMETHING for the poor - it feels very Calles and Cardenas era at least. However, I think SEP has finally (and wisely) understood that the "patito" schools were simply a safety valve for dumping kids from poor neighborhoods or small villages.

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