Apr 192011

Mexicans over age 15 are now getting 8.6 years of schooling on average, compared to only 7.5 years in 2000 and 6.5 years in 1990. The increase of over a year in the past decade is impressive. While males are still getting more education than females, the gap is closing. Males got 8.8 years of education in 2010 while females got 8.5 years. However, female education has increased by 1.3 years since 2000 compared to 1.1 years for males.

Not surprisingly, educational attainment is not equally distributed among Mexico’s 32 states. The Federal District has the highest level with 10.5 years, followed by Nuevo León with 9.8, Coahuila with 9.5, and Baja California Sur and Sonora both with 9.4. At the other end, Chiapas was lowest with an average of 6.7 years. Other states at this end are Oaxaca with 6.9, Guerrero with 7.3, and Michoacán with 7.4 years.

If we look at Mexico’s 2,442 municipalities, the inequality is even greater. Urban areas tend to have significantly higher education levels than rural areas. The municipalities with the highest levels are Benito Juárez, D.F. with 13.9 years, followed by San Pedro Garza García, N.L. (12.3), Miguel Hidalgo, D.F. (12.3), San Sebastian Tutla, Oax. (12.1), and Coyoacán, D.F. (12.1). By comparison, average educational attainment in the USA and Canada are 12.0 and 11.6 years respectively. It is interesting that two of the municipalities in the top ten for average level of education are in Oaxaca, a state with one of the lowest overall levels of education.

At the bottom end, the municipality with the lowest average level of education is Cochoapa el Grande in Guerrero with 2.3 years, followed by Coicoyán de las Flores, Oax. (2.5), San Martin Peras, Oax. (2.8) and Mixtla de Altamirano, Ver. (2.9). All the lowest ten in terms of educational attainment are predominantly indigenous municipalities.

Though municipalities lagging in educational attainment still have a long way to go, they are making very impressive progress. In the least developed 125 municipalities in Mexico, school attendance for children between 6 and 15 years of age is an impressive 88%. The percentage for the most developed 125 municipalities is 96%. The figures indicate that in the next few decades the gap in adult educational attainment between the highest and lowest municipalities should decline very significantly.

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