The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Kids Missing School in Mexico

Aug 30, 2021

On August 13, Mexico’s Interior Department released some shocking figures: 5.2 million children under 18 did not even register for classes last year. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the obvious: children need to be back in physical classrooms, for social development as well as learning.

Just like in this country, Mexico’s government is putting the responsibility for kids missing out on school on parents.

But in reality, capitalist education in Mexico is like an exaggerated mirror of education in the U.S. Most middle class and wealthy parents send their kids to private school, while working class students are stuck in woefully underfunded public schools. At least 46,515 schools, almost a fourth, do not even have running tap water! And already before the pandemic, 80% of elementary students were below grade-level standards in reading and math.

Mexican schools were closed to in-person learning for 14 months during the pandemic. In a country where many people don’t have access to the internet, the government set up a “Learn from Home” program that used TV as a supposed surrogate teacher. In many schools, especially in poor and rural areas, students and teachers could not stay connected. TV school did not work!

Many families in Mexico were also already on the brink of poverty before the pandemic. How many have pulled their teenage children out of school—or those even younger—to help earn a few pennies? How many of those young people will never go back to school, now that their earnings are needed?

Schools are finally set to open again in-person at the end of August—even as Mexico is experiencing its highest surge yet in COVID infections. Experts think about 370,000 Mexicans have died of the disease—in a country of about 128 million people, that means a higher rate of death than in the U.S. In this situation, all the government offers to stem COVID spread in schools is a promise of bleach and disinfectant, and maybe some masks.

Kids need an education, and they need safety from the disease. Mexico’s government—and more fundamentally, its capitalist society—cannot provide either.