Back-To-School in Mexico
Last week’s traffic jams and long lines at the papelerías, or stationery and paper goods stores, meant back-to-school for Mexico’s 27.5 million pupils. But not every kid went back to school today. According to INEGI, the national census institute of Mexico, 6 out of every 100 children ages 4 to 6 do not.
Families of the 27.5 million pupils returning to school this month are struggling to keep up with associated school expenses, which include school supplies, uniforms, and school quotas.
The public schools in Mexico charge quotas of 250 pesos per student. Over 14 percent of the 800 families who responded to a government phone survey found public school tuition to be very high. These fees are otherwise known as ‘elective donations’ and they bring 7 billion pesos of revenue to schools in Mexico each year, according to the National Federation of Parents. If parents do not pay the quotas, the school tells them they cannot guarantee a spot for their child. The overcrowded public primary schools only run half-days and in two shifts. Expensive private schools pose an alternative for those families that can afford them.
To make matters worse, the cost of school supplies has gone up this year. Overall, Mexican families spent over 2,321 pesos (200 USD) in August 2011 for associated back-to-school costs, and another 150 USD a month thereafter for school supplies, transportation, etc. In Mexico, many families are supported by incomes as low as 500 USD per month.
See slideshow on tierra.com (Spanish):