The so-called “education model” introduced for discussion Wednesday by Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño poses several questions.
The first one is that it is the “education model” for the 21st century. What? Isn’t it a bit late for that? It’s already 2016 and if we go by the adage that “time flies,” it will soon be the 22nd one, and Mexico will continue to have a 19th century educational model.
Another concern is that every administration in history has tried to do something about the way the Public Education Secretariat (SEP) is run. At best, they have done some decentralization and given the states freedom to educate according to the idiosyncratic manners each has.
Furthermore, this proposal is to be discussed over the summer. Then, all feed-ins will be handed to think-tank Center for Economic Research to sum up the way to shape the model around the proposal.
But the most questionable of all concerns is that it will not start being implemented until the 2018 school year, which starts in August, just four months before President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office on Nov. 30, 2018.
The model applies to kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school exclusively, which is where the bulk of teachers hired by SEP work.
The model does not take into consideration political timing and who the next president of Mexico will be. In the past administrations from political parties other than the current president’s, came with their own “education model,” and if the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) fails to retain the presidency — read my lips — a candidate from a different party will shoot this model down and bring in his/her own.
But suppose all goes well and it goes into effect as scheduled. In Secretary Nuño’s planning there is no answer to the question as to how he will deal with that national headache called the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union that has declared war against the Peña Nieto administration.
During the presentation the leader of the main teachers union, the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), Juan Díaz de la Torre was present, and being a knowledgeable fellow of the guerrilla warfare tactics CNTE uses to extort money from the government to carry out “a revolution,” he predicted that CNTE, which has its own education model that it wants to impose by any or all means, will settle down to take a look at the new proposal.
“The revolution,” Díaz de la Torre said, “for these characters, also takes a vacation.” But after the break, at the end of next August, they will be back doing what they seem to do better than teaching, that is, stage marches in Mexico City and disrupt the commercial supply chain in the states where they have a majority in the union.
Díaz de la Torre pleaded with CNTE to stop converting the nation’s education “into a battlefield.”
One salient feature of the Nuño education model is that it is not as centralist (commandeered from Mexico City, that is) as previous plans have been, but it proposes “regional diversity,” freedom to districts and even to remodel the teaching systems of individual schools. This is an answer for many of the schools in rural areas where native languages are spoken.
The objective, Nuño said, is that “all the students, regardless of the place they live and the school they study at, achieve the expected learning” upon finishing high school.
“Schools,” he added, “may adapt part of the program to their particular needs and context” of operation. It also frees school principals to act independently on school repairs, which now, depend on a bureaucratic budgeting nightmare.
The model is a great outline for an educational proposition and is well structured and applicable.
But it remains to be seen what CNTE will do to shoot it down.