Mexico announces new census to improve education


  • Author: Carlos Alberto Gómez Grajales
  • Date: 27 September 2013
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of iStockPhoto

The National Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico has announced that next week the operation of a new Census of Elementary Schools and Centers for Special Education will begin (1). This agency is also the one responsible for the population census in the country and now it will add this new school and educational census to its share of activities.

Although some of you may be thinking that we shouldn't overburden the agency responsible for the population census, in fact most of the world's statistical agencies have some other projects besides the popular and well publicised exercise of counting each member of a country's population. For instance, the US Census Bureau also executes an Economic Census every five years (2). Just as the population census measures and counts every single household in the country, the economic census aims to measure and count every single business, company and economic unit. In the same way that a population census allows the government to understand and analyse the composition of a country's population, an economic census is a tool to understand the behaviour and dynamics of the economic activity. Since it is also a census, it implies that every single business will be counted and the results obtained (how many employers there are, how many employs the financial is sector producing, how many elderly people are currently working, etc.) are the closest we can get to the real number.

thumbnail image: Mexico announces new census to improve education

In Mexico, the government conducts such other statistical exercises as well. An economic census is held every five years and a census of agriculture is performed every ten years. Now, as officially reported a few days back, this new educational census will start at the end of September and finish in November of this year, with full results being published in the first quarter of 2014. This new statistical product will count every single elementary school in the country, along with the educational centres devoted to Special Education - children with disabilities or special needs. The agency reports that over 17,000 people will be developing the field duties in the upcoming months (3).

Amongst the results that are expected from this ambitious program is an updated list of the geographic location of every elementary school in the country, an updated list of the available infrastructure, equipment available and conditions of the schools, along with a healthy check on security measures. It will also be an opportunity to study the condition of the children attending these schools: estimating the number of children that attend, whether they have Internet access, where they lack of a proper facility to conduct their studies or even to find where the children don't have schools near their home. A special emphasis will be regarded in measuring the condition and situation of children with disabilities or special needs.

This census comes at a time when Mexico has just finished one of its most important educational reforms in years. This latest reform will introduce, for the first time, a mandatory evaluation of the teachers, along with some other controversial changes (4). It is therefore laudable that the changes will come along with some scientific tools to measure its success and, in the future, propose even larger reforms for improving the education system in the country, this time based on reliable statistics.



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