This article is from the December 1999 - January 2000 The Mexico File newsletter.
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School for Workers

by Bruce McGovern  

Mexico has a variety of schools. Public schools; private schools; religion‑operated schools; bilingual schools, and a lot more.

To me, one of the most interesting school types is the school for workers. When I learned that Maria, servant at our Mexico City house, attends one, I did what I always do when I want to know something Ė  I asked my niece, Liliana.

Liliana told me workers schools hold evening classes, 5 to 9 pm, so the workers can hold jobs. They are more lax about attendance. If students show up late, they are merely asked why they are late. Unlike most Mexican schools, the class waits for slower students, instead of tossing them out. If the class falls behind, classes are continued into vacation time. Of course, workers donít get much vacation, so this isnít a major disaster.

These schools are less restricted by age. Liliana says itís possible to have a thirty-year-old student in secondary, which is roughly junior high. At 15, Maria is in her first year of secondary. Liliana was there when she was 12.

After secondary, the workers can attend Open High School. They receive a high school diploma, which is generally recognized as a good diploma. But, Liliana says it is rare for an Open High Schooler to attend the University. Admission tests are given, and considered for admission. But, competition is fierce, so the studentís background is also considered.  Thus, few Open High Schoolers will make the cut.

I'd like to theorize that these kids would prosper in the U.S., with financial aid and open college admissions. Alas, many poor Mexicans I know in the States simply don't attend any school after high school, even where part‑time or night school is available. What a shame!