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Primary and Secondary Schools in Mexico

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Contact: Instituto Educares Primaria

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Study Programs: Secondary Education


Contact: Montañez Centro Educativo Acambarense

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Study Programs: Secondary Education


About Primary and Secondary Schools in Mexico

Education in Mexico is governed by the Secretariat of Public Education (also known as the Secretaría de Educación Pública). To attend public schools for free, one needs to provide proof of Mexican citizenship; there are both public schools and private schools in Mexico. Religious teaching is allowed to some extent in private schools. Compulsory education in Mexico starts at the age of six and ends after completion of grade 9. The education system in Mexico is divided into three parts:
  • Primary school (primaria)- consisting of grades 1-6
  • Junior high school (secundaria)- consisting of grades 7-9
  • High school (preparatoria) - consisting of grades 10-12.
Hence, primary education in Mexico consists of primaria and secundaria whereas secondary education consists of preparatoria.

Primary Education in Mexico

In Mexico, the basic education starts at grade one, when the child is about six years old. Primary schools in Mexico are referred to as primaria, which enrolls students between the ages of six to twelve years. Primaria initiates the basic, compulsory education system in Mexico. In some schools, bilingual education is provided from the start, where one mode of instruction is Spanish and the other is a second language- probably English or French. Junior high schools or middle schools in Mexico are referred to as secundaria, consisting of grades 7-9, and students are 12 to 15 years old. In junior high, other specialized subjects are taught such as Physics and Chemistry, and World History.

Escuela or state owned schools are the most popular schools in Mexico, whereas colegio or private schools charge significantly higher tuition fees. The students are taught using the global system of education in grades one and two. This method combines social sciences with environmental studies. Spanish and math are specifically given higher importance by teachers and the textbooks alike. Since education is compulsory initially, students are provided with textbooks from grades one to six. However, on reaching the seventh grade, students are required to pay for their textbooks.

Exam patterns are slightly different in primaria, and examinations are conducted five times a year by the school itself.
Normally, Mexican schools operate only for four hours every day. However, the routine is not as strict and formal as that in the USA; in fact, the structure, patterns and routines followed at primary schools in Mexico are quite informal and flexible compared to the USA.  Grouping in classrooms too is done according the students’ age and not ability.

Secondary Education in Mexico

Secondary education in Mexico comprises students who are 15 to 18 years old. Preparatoria or bachillerato are terms that refer to what might be called a high school or gymnasium in another country. This stage comprising grades 10-12. The term preparatoria is typically used for institutions that offer a three-year education program. On the other hand, bachillerato most often refers to institutions that provide vocational training, and they may span two or three years. Graduates from such schools can enter the labor market as skilled workers.

Students are required to choose between two types of high school programs in Mexico.
  • The SEP incorporated program
  • University Incorporated one.
The choice of the student regarding the high school program depends on the state. Private schools also offer other programs such as the International Baccalaureate.

Secondary education in Mexico involves three years of education, broken further into six semesters. The initial semesters have a common curriculum, and the later ones provide some degree of specialization.



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