The Mexican Education Scene: Challenges and Hurdles [2023]

mexican education scene

Education in Mexico is a crucial topic covering everything from basic education to higher education, facing diverse challenges impacting enrollment, graduation rates, government spending, and inequalities. In this article, we’ll delve into key statistics about education in Mexico, focusing on three relevant Mexican entities, institutions, or organizations: the Ministry of Public Education (SEP), the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education (INEE), and the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO).

University Enrollment and Graduation Rates

1. Total enrollment in basic education reached 24,109,222 students in 2022, with 21,489,117 belonging to public institutions and 2,620,105 to private institutions.  [SEP]

2. The net enrollment rate in preschool education has gradually increased over the years, starting from 49.6% in 2000 and reaching 66.6% in 2022. [INEGI]

3. At the primary level, enrollment rates showed some variability, remaining at high levels and reaching 95.8% in 2022, the lowest percentage recorded. [INEGI]

4. For secondary education, the net enrollment rate experienced steady growth, reaching 82.9% in 2022. [INEGI]

5. Regarding upper secondary education, there were 5,379,859 students in 2022, with 4,577,589 from public institutions and 802,270 from private institutions. [SEP]

6. At least 12,539,756 children and youth in Mexico did not attend the educational level they should have during the 2022-2023 period. [CEMEES]

7. Between 2019 and 2022, half a million women and one million men of all ages dropped out of school (3.4% and 5.2% of total enrollment for each gender, respectively). [IMCO]

8. In Mexico, 95.7% of the population aged 5 to 14 is enrolled in school, and by age 15, the proportion decreases to only 55%. [INEE]

9. In the transition from elementary to middle school, about 2 million students enrolled in public schools are lost. [EL ECONOMISTA]

10. 97% of internet users are studying or interested in studying. [FORBES]

11. 62% of internet users in Mexico have a bachelor’s degree. [FORBES]

12. 66% of those interested in studying would pay less than $5,000 per month. [FORBES]

13. 58% of students pay up to $20,000 per month.  [FORBES]

mexican educational outlook statistical data

university enrollment and graduation rates

Educational Level by Age

14. In 2020, 4.9% of the population aged 15 and older in Mexico had no schooling. [INEGI]

15. In 2020, 49.3% had attained a basic educational level. [INEGI]

16. In 2020, 24% had completed upper secondary education. [INEGI]

17. In 2020, 21.6% had attained a higher educational level. [INEGI]

18. In 2020, 0.2% of the population did not specify their educational level that year. [INEGI]

educational level by age

Statistics on Higher Education

19. In 2005, only 11% — approximately 2.2 million people in that age group — completed a bachelor’s degree; by 2022, this percentage increased to 18%, equivalent to a total of 4.1 million better-prepared young people. [IMCO]

20. Women aged 15 to 29 represent approximately 55% of new young professionals. [IMCO]

21. The most studied courses in higher education are Business Administration and Management, with a total of 1,487,341 students, followed by Law, with 1,165,686 students, and Accounting and Auditing, with 1,188,887 students. [IMCO]

22. In the academic year 2021-2022, the dropout rate in Higher Education was 8.1%, considering that in 2020-2021 it was 8.8%. [SEP]

23. At the Higher Education level, there are a total of 3,231,266 enrolled students, of which 574,214 are receiving scholarships, representing 17.8% of the total. [AMELI]

24. The majority of higher education students choose undergraduate courses (92%), while only 9% opt for higher university technician programs, contrasting with the more even distribution in the OECD. [OCDE]

25. Although Mexican students enter higher education at a younger age than the OECD average, the average age of starting doctoral programs is considerably older, at 34 years in Mexico compared to the OECD average of 29 years. [OCDE]

26. Doctoral education in Mexico is limited and focused on a few areas, with only 0.1% of the population having a doctorate, the lowest proportion in the OECD. [OCDE]

27. During the pandemic, 14.9% of students received tutoring or extra classes. [INEGI]

Government Spending on Education

28. In 2023, resources totaling 945 billion 11 million pesos were allocated, representing a 6.5% increase in real terms compared to 2022. [IMCO]

29. The Mexican government allocated the following budget for education at different levels in the Federal Budget Project (PPEF): Basic Education, 74 billion 107 million pesos; Secondary Education, 131 billion 814 million pesos; Higher Education, 142 billion 341 million pesos; Postgraduate, 7 billion 342 million pesos; and Adult Education, 1 billion 766 million pesos. [IMCO]

30. Federal investment in educational infrastructure carried out through programs still administered by INIFED decreased by almost 78%. [EL FINANCIERO]

31. The Government of Mexico invests less than $5,000 annually per student. [EXPANSIÓN POLÍTICA]

32. Public spending on education is 3.24% of GDP, a figure lower than pre-pandemic levels of 3.84% and far from the recommendation of the Inter-American Development Bank, which suggests a range between 4.0 and 6.0 percentage points. [BID]

33. Spending on higher education in Mexico is 3 times higher than spending on elementary education. [INEE]

34. A 5% increase in the number of students in elementary, middle, and upper secondary education between 2010 and 2016 was achieved with an 8% increase in spending per student. [MAESTRIAS]

35. In 2023, 27 billion Mexican pesos were allocated to the Scholarships for Well-Being Benito Juárez and La Escuela es Nuestra (LEN) programs. [GOBIERNO DE MÉXICO]

government spending on education

Inequalities in Education

36. Women have higher graduation rates in higher education than men (21% compared to 18%). However, Mexican women earn an average of 34% less than men. [CIEP]

37. 30 out of every 100 students attending school are poor. 52 out of every 100 students not attending school identify as poor, and 35.8% of them lack formal employment. [CIEP]

38. Only 2 out of every 5 adolescents in extreme poverty continue their education beyond high school, highlighting the significant influence of poverty on school attendance and retention. [UNICEF]

39. In states like Chiapas and Oaxaca, the availability of schools, teachers, and materials barely covers 50% of the school-age population, a significantly lower proportion compared to Mexico City, where educational capacity covers 120% of school-age Mexicans. [EL ECONOMISTA]

40. 1 out of every 4 boys and girls aged 6 to 11 with a disability do not attend school. [UNICEF]

41. In 2020, indigenous attendance in the age group of 6 to 14 years was at 92%. Currently, the percentage has risen to 94.4%. [GOBIERNO DE MÉXICO]

42. 36.2% of teachers in indigenous primary schools do not have study programs. [EL ECONOMISTA]

43. Over 4 million children and adolescents in Mexico do not attend school, and another 600,000 are at risk of dropping out due to factors such as lack of resources, distance from schools, and violence. [UNICEF]

44. In rural communities, 6 out of 10 young people aged 15 to 17 live isolated and without nearby schools. [EL ECONOMISTA]

45. 2 out of every 3 children not attending primary school are indigenous. [INNOVEC]

Academic Performance

46. 34% of students in Mexico achieved at least Level 2 proficiency, significantly less than the OECD average of 69%. [OCDE]

47. Mexico has a graduation rate in upper secondary education among those under 25 years old of 22%. [SEP]

48. The percentage of students who dropped out of school is 0.5% in elementary, 2.9% in middle school, 11.6% in upper secondary, and 8.8% in higher education during the 2020/2021 school year. [INEGI]

49. In 2022, Mexican students’ performance dropped by 15 points in Mathematics and 10 points in Reading Comprehension compared to the 2018 edition. [IMCO]

50. 1% of students scored at Level 5 or higher in reading, compared to 5% of the OECD average. [EL FINANCIERO]

51. Only 16% of high school students have a good knowledge of mathematics. [EXPANSIÓN POLÍTICA]

Technical and Vocational Education and Employment

52. Between 30 and 40% of young people make mistakes when choosing a career. [EXCELSIOR]

53. 86% of those entering university have no information about the professional life of the chosen profession, so 58% of students drop out or change professions. [EXCELSIOR]

54. 33.4% of university graduates in Mexico are unemployed. [EL ECONOMISTA]

55. The number of university projects with companies increased by 40% (from 73,000 to 106,000 joint projects). [SEP]

56. People with incomplete elementary education have an employment rate of 37%, 47% for those who completed it, 60% for those with incomplete high school, and 74% for those who completed it. [EL ECONOMISTA]

57. Young adults with higher education (25 to 34 years old) have a higher employment rate (81%) than those with completed high school (71%). [MAESTRIAS]

58. The employment rate of bachelor’s degree graduates is 81%. [MAESTRIAS]

59. There are 75 million young people in the world who neither study nor work. 7.5 million of them are Mexican. [INEE]

60. Of the young people in the mentioned age group, 38.8% are solely dedicated to studying. [INEE]

61. 74% of young people who neither study nor have jobs want to continue studying in the future. [INEE]

Technology in Education

62. 88% of high school students who own a cell phone always take it to school. [UVM]

63. 68.7% of primary schools and 69% of secondary schools have at least one computer for educational use. [INEE]

64. 51% of people studying do so through some online platform. [EL FINANCIERO]

65. 90% of teachers consider digital technologies useful for improving learning processes. [IFE]

66. Federal spending on science, technology, and innovation (STI) represents 0.18% of GDP. [NEXOS]

67. Of the population aged 3 to 29 enrolled in the academic period 2021-2022, 95.6% had a smartphone at home; 77.5% had digital television; 50.9% had a computer, and 22.7% had access to a tablet. Additionally, in 72.1% of households, there was internet access. [INEGI]

68. In elementary education, only 4 out of 10 schools have computers and internet for students. [EL ECONOMISTA]

technology and education

Internationalization of Education

69. 1 out of every 100 higher education students manages to study abroad. [EL ECONOMISTA]

70. 18% of the total population of migrant children and adolescents attend school. [IBERO]

71. 16,700 Mexicans travel abroad to study each year. [FORBES]

72. 57.6% of Mexican students who travel abroad do so to study a bachelor’s degree, 24.9% for a master’s degree, and 17.5% for other types of study. [FORBES]

73. Public universities accounted for 51.8% of connections with their counterparts in the United States and 59.1% with Canadian universities, in relation to the total global. [ANUIES]

74. 40% of Mexicans have a basic level of oral English expression, and 44% have an intermediate level of reading. [EXCELSIOR]

75. Mexico has one international student for every 100 nationals studying at home and abroad. [MAESTRIAS]

76. 1% of higher education students are enrolled in programs abroad. [MAESTRIAS]

Education during the Pandemic

77. 36.1% of the population aged 3 to 29, enrolled in the academic period 2021-2022, participated in distance learning, while 35.6% opted for a hybrid approach, and 28.1% attended in person. [INEGI]

78. The tools used by teachers to communicate activities or conduct classes were diverse, with the use of email or social networks standing out at 72.8%. Additionally, virtual classes were used in 31.3% of cases, and virtual platforms in 30.7%. It is important to mention that in 42.4% of situations, teachers chose to conduct classes in person. [INEGI]

79. For the population aged 3 to 17 enrolled in the 2021-2022 school year, the main figure of educational support was the mother: 91.6% in early childhood education received her help; 82.4% in primary education, and 51.5% in secondary education. [INEGI]

80. Of the population enrolled in early childhood education, 36.6% had a desktop computer or laptop; in secondary education, 46.1%; in high school, 60.6%, and 85.1% in higher education. [INEGI]

81. Of the population aged 3 to 29 enrolled in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, 1.5% (444.3 thousand) changed the type of school: 54.1% switched from public to private school and 45.9% from private to public school. [INEGI]

82. 28.8% of students lost contact with their teachers and could not do their assignments. [INEGI]

83. 22.4% of students reported that someone in their home lost their job. [INEGI]

84. 14.6% of students reported that their parents or guardians could not take care of them. [INEGI]

85. 15.4% of students consider virtual classes to be ineffective for learning. [INEGI]

86. 4% of students using the internet needed to do so outside of their homes. [EL ECONOMISTA]

Teachers and Schools

87. From 2020 to 2023, at the national level in Mexico, the total number of teachers increased gradually, from 2,019,632 in 2020/2021 to 2,030,790 in 2022/2023. [INEGI]

88. The number of schools experienced slight growth, reaching 256,383 in 2022/2023. [INEGI]

89. Between 2020 and 2023, the student-teacher ratio decreased from 17 to 16. [INEGI]

90. The student-school ratio remained relatively constant, ranging from 129 to 132 students per school between 2020 and 2023. [INEGI]

91. 14% of early childhood education teachers do not have a university degree. [GOBIERNO DE MÉXICO]

92. In elementary education, 3 out of every 10 teachers do not have a higher education degree. [EL ECONOMISTA]

93. Of the teachers in high school or equivalent, 59.8% did not reach the ideal level in official exams. [EL ECONOMISTA]

94. Careers related to teaching, education, and pedagogy represent only 6% of available jobs, while 33% of workers are not employed in their fields of study. [EL FINANCIERO]

95. The State of Mexico has the highest number of teachers, with a total of 245,475 educators for 22,308 schools. [EL FINANCIERO]

96. Baja California Sur y Colima son las entidades con menor cantidad de maestros en el país, cada una con más de 12 mil. [EL FINANCIERO]

97. Teachers are absent from their posts in 17% of schools. [EL UNIVERSAL]

98. In high school, there is only one school unit for every 1,000 youth. [EL ECONOMISTA]

99. Three out of every 100 institutions at all levels lack bathrooms. [EL ECONOMISTA]

100. In secondary education, only 23% of units have adequate infrastructure and water fountains. [EL ECONOMISTA]