Education System in Mexico

The Mexican educational system consists of three levels: primary, secondary, and higher education. Formal basic education encompasses preschool, elementary, and lower secondary. Basic education accounts for approximately 81 percent of the total number of students receiving school services. Federal, state, and local governments provide 93 percent of basic education, while private schools provide about 7 percent.
In 2000 there were 29,700,000 students enrolled in all levels of education. Of these, 23,612,000 were enrolled in basic education grades. According to estimates from the Secretaría de Educación Pública or SEP (Public Education Secretariat), school enrollment for children aged 6 to 14 years stands at about 92.08 percent. However, only 46.68 percent of those between the ages of 15 to 19 years attend school.
The new legal framework adopted in 1993 under a new federalism continued to charge the Federal Government with the task of determining the study plans and programs for elementary, lower secondary, and teacher education for the entire country. Additional constitutional amendments made it a legal obligation for parents to send their children to elementary and lower secondary schools. Under the provisions of the 1993 General Education Law, the Federal Government, through SEP, continues to oversee the general implementation of education, but the states are given complete responsibility for administrating basic education, including indigenous and special education and teacher education. Preschool education in not mandatory but is available to children between the ages of three to five. It is not necessary to attend jardín de niños (kindergarten) to enroll in elementary school. However, preschool education is highly recommended.
Mandatory school age is 6 to 14 years, which covers primary and lower secondary school. Elementary school is from grades one through six; lower secondary education is taught in three levels, from first to third grade. Although elementary school enrollment improved for children in the compulsory ages from 86 percent in 1990 to 92 percent in 2000, completion of elementary school for those 15 years of age and older remained low. About 70 percent of those people beyond the compulsory school age were able to complete elementary school. This percentage, however, represented an increase in graduation rates for this age group from 62 in 1990. Mexicans 15 years and older who completed secundaria (lower secondary school or middle school) or its equivalent reached 46 percent in 2000 from 36 percent in 1990.
The academic year is set by the SEP for all public and private-incorporated schools offering preschool, elementary, secondary, and teacher education. The year consists of 200 working days of classes usually beginning in the last week of August and ending in the first week of July. Preschoolers attend school for three hours every day from Monday to Friday. Primary school children spend between four and four and a half hours in class instruction every day. Students in secundaria (middle school) spend at least seven hours per day in school. There are morning, afternoon, night, and combined class shifts. In general, in the compulsory school grades, boys and girls are almost equally represented: males, 92 percent; females, 91 percent. However, this balance is upset in the upper grades. Even though the gap is closing, males tend to be represented in greater numbers than females, particularly in higher education. With the exception of vocational, technical, and teacher education, representation of men at all levels of education (including university undergraduate and graduate levels) is higher than women's. The official language of instruction is Spanish.
However, increasing attention is being paid to Indigenous education. Mexico recognizes 62 indigenous ethnic groups that speak more than 80 languages. These groups are found in 24 of the 31 Mexican states. More than 1 million indigenous children receive bilingual instruction at the preschool and elementary school levels; this education is offered in 72 dialects from 49 parent languages. The grading system is based on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest and 6 the minimum passing grade.

Public School

Education in Mexico is regulated by Secretaría de Educación Pública, or the Secretary of Public Education. In order to attend public schools, which make up 93% of schools, students must be Mexican citizens. These public schools are prohibited from bringing religion into the classroom, while the 7% of schools that are private are allowed to talk about whatever they wish. As in the United States, each Mexican state oversees the curriculum and education of children.

Pre-School & Kindergarden.

Preschool is not mandatory in Mexico, but children ages three to five are encouraged to attend a free preschool, or jardín de niños. At this stage, students attend school three hours per day, five days per week. The Mexican grading system begins at this age. Students are graded on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest and six being minimum level of passing.

Mandatory Education or Primary Education.

Education in Mexico is mandatory for children ages six to fourteen. During this time, students aged six to fourteen learn a variety of subject matter in primary school (ages six to eleven) and lower secondary school (ages twelve to fourteen). Students reading, writing and basic math skills. After completing elementary school, students entering lower secondary school can choose a three-year secondary school liberal arts program or a vocational education program. During these years, children typically attend school seven hours per day, five days per week.

Secondary School

The secondary level consists of two cycles:

Higher School

Students can attend either private or public schools, although more research tends to take place in public, state-funded schools. Students can choose to attend liberal arts colleges and universities, encompassing a liberal arts education; technological colleges, which teach technology skills; or teacher-training colleges, in order to become a teachers primary and secondary schools. Most colleges and universities are situated in larger cities, like Universidad National Autónoma de Mexico, located in Mexico City, being the largest institution, with over 269,000 students.

Indigenous Education.

Mexico has recognized that there are at least 62 different ethnic groups in the country, speaking around 80 different languages. The official language of instruction in Mexico is Spanish; however, this presents a problem for students whose official language is not Spanish. In 2007, over 1 million children children were receiving bilingual education in over 72 dialects.

Private School

The mexican schools that offer the best in terms of bilingual education are obviously the private schools, and they are the only option for children whose mother-language is not Spanish. There are five or six choices of private English-language schools in each of the three largest cities of Mexico, Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, as well as French schools, German schools and even a Japanese school in Mexico City. There is an American school in all three major cities. Besides the American School Foundation in Mexico City (the oldest extant foreign school in Mexico, founded in 1888), the Greengates School is also considered one of the finest schools in Mexico.
Greengates follows an English curriculum and most of the teachers are British nationals. Other leading schools are the Westhill Institute, Eton School, and the Colegio Peterson. Another excellent school in Mexico City is the French School, the Liceo Franco Mexicano, which offers the International Baccalaureate program. For German education there is the Alexander Von Humboldt German School, founded in 1894 and offering a trilingual curriculum, and the Japanese School also offers education, primarily for children of Japanese expatriates.
When it comes to English-language education in Guadalajara, there is the American School Foundation, the Colegio John F. Kennedy, the Anderson School, the Francis Bacon School and the Lincoln School. In Monterrey can be found the Colegio Americano Anahuac, Colegio Norteamericano Monterrey, Instituto John F. Kennedy, the Pan American School, and the Colegio Latinoamericano. For kindergarten, junior and senior high schools, there are Montessori schools throughout Mexico, offering good bilingual education.
All of the schools mentioned above offer primary, junior high and senior high school education, and most of them offer kindergarten and pre-school education as well. However, there are other options when it comes to pre-school and kindergarten, as there are schools which only specialize in this level of education. Generally schooling in Mexico starts at age three or four.
As in other countries, each school ascertains how and at what grade a child is to transfer his or her studies from their old school to the new one. One essential requirement is an official apostille from the relevant public office for education in the country where the child was last studying. This is to certify that your child can continue his or her studies in an equivalent school and grade in Mexico. Once this has been acquired your task should be to contact the various schools that you have picked out and compare.
The first thing to look at is the curriculum offered by the school - does it teach American English or British English, what is the ratio of Spanish language teaching and English language teaching, how is it certified and how can credits be transferred to other schools (particularly schools in the home country of the student), how are the facilities, etc. Another thing to be wary of is transportation, school buses, and - particularly in Mexico City - proximity to home. You should have a tour of the school and evaluate the facilities and faculty. Last but not least, compare tuition fees and enrolment fees. Comparison is crucial as each school runs a unique curriculum that is closely tied to that of its "mother" (or "host") school or university back home.
While the ratio of English and Spanish language teaching is usually 50-50, each school has its own application. Some classes at primary level are taught in Spanish. Some schools have almost complete education in English, such as the American School and Greengates. Nevertheless, in all cases, a knowledge of Spanish is very important as foreign students attending junior or senior high school are required to take classes and exams in Spanish in certain subjects. Classes generally run from early morning (8 a.m.) to early afternoon (2 or 3 p.m.). In addition to monthly tuition fees and a one-off enrollment fee, parents are expected to pay for transportation and many of the books, texts and clothes (all schools require the wearing of school uniforms), all of which are sold in the respective schools.

Learning Spanish

Studying a foreign language abroad can be very rewarding, and many find learning Spanish in Mexico an unforgettable cultural experience!
We have compiled a list of some of the most respected foreign language and Spanish language schools in Mexico. These schools offer an impressive array of Spanish courses from Spanish language immersion programs, with general or conversational focuses to cater to specific needs.
Some schools offer English classes to Spanish speakers, providing the chance for a cultural exchange that you won't find in other Spanish Language programs.

Spanish Institute of Puebla

The Spanish Institute is a highly regarded Spanish Language School specialized in teaching the Spanish language and its culture through a 3 or 4 week Intensive Immersion program in Mexico. Our students learn from the outset to think and express themselves in Spanish as they participate in our exceptional Award Winning Academic Curriculum and wide variety of extra curriculum activities. Our Spanish Language School has provided an intensive Spanish immersion program for over 25 years to students, professionals (from all fields) and seniors from more than 55 countries, Website.

Spanish Institute of Merida

The Spanish Institute of Mérida is a well established Spanish Language School with a proven methodology and a great atmosphere for learning Spanish. You will live the Spanish language and culture up to 16 hours a day. All our professors have college degrees and a vast teaching experience. Our classrooms have ergonomic chairs and ample desk space for comfortable learning, Website.


There are several Mexican Universities offering advanced technical degrees, bachelor´s degrees (licenciaturas), master´s degrees (maestrías) and doctorates (doctorados). Like its U.S. equivalent, the Mexican bachelor´s degree usually takes four to five years to complete, while a degree from a technical school can be completed in between two to four years.
The following Universities are widely recognized as quality institutions of higher education and worth investigating by anyone interested in studying in Mexico.

Federal District


Baja California

Baja California Sur






Public Universities



Estado de Mexico







Nuevo Leon




Quintana Roo

San Luis Potosi





Private Universities