BY STAFF REPORT
Mexico has started overhauling its education system, freeing the sector from the stifling grip of the teachers’ union. “Teachers will henceforth be hired on professional merit,” said President Enrique Pena Nieto after signing Monday the country’s most sweeping education reform bill into law.
Mexico’s education system has long been controlled by the country’s teachers’ union, whose leaders hired and fired teachers as and when they feel the need.
The new law strips the union of this discretionary power and gives the total control of the system to the government.
“Professional merit must be the only way to be hired, remain and advance as a teacher, director or supervisor … and success will not be subject to discretional criteria,” Associated Press quoted the President as saying.
No one knows how many schools or students are there in the country. The new legislation will make way for conducting the country’s first education census in seven decades.
The legislation was approved Monday by congress and the majority of state legislatures.
“The reform was a plank of a pact signed between Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and the two main opposition parties,” reported AP.
Once enforced, the legislation will create a system of uniform standards for teacher hiring and promotion based on merit, removing the system from the grip of the union.
According to reports, there are 1.5 million employees in the sector. And AP says there could also be many ‘phantom teachers’ in the payroll.
A leader of a major drug cartel in the western state of Michoacan had once claimed that he was a teacher. The government went on paying his salary for several years. In fact, he had left the classroom a decade earlier.
With the new legislation, the government wants to make sure that more number of students learn primary education in the country. The reform also extends learning hours in some 40,000 public schools.