Education and schools in Mexico have had their share of struggles. The dropout rate in public schools in Mexico is high, and rural schools are underfunded and have a shortage of buildings, teachers and textbooks. Urban public schools are better, but the quality of education is still relatively low. Private schools offer high-quality bilingual education that is usually well suited to expat children but can be expensive.

The education system in Mexico is often segregated by social class; stark differences can be seen between more developed northern and central states and southern regions. Wealthy families normally send their children to private schools, where there is no shortage of qualified and passionate teachers and textbooks, while poorer families send their children to public schools.

Many expats homeschool their children or send them to a Mexican school during the day and homeschool them in the afternoons. Immersion in a Mexican school can help expat children learn Spanish and assimilate better into the local culture.

Public schools in Mexico

Although public schools in Mexico charge no tuition and textbooks are freely available in primary schools, they are unlikely to be an expat’s first choice for their children due to poor and differing standards. 

The Mexican education system is regulated by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) and is administered by individual states. Public schools in Mexico are secular as religious instruction is banned in public education, and school days in Mexico are shorter than in many other countries. The school year usually runs from September to the following June.

The system is divided into three levels: 

  • Primary school (primaria): Grades 1 to 6, ages 6 to 12
  • Junior high school (secundaria): Grades 7 to 9, ages 12 to 15
  • High school (preparatoria): Grades 10 to 12, ages 15 to 18

Children must achieve at least 60 percent in the national examination at the end of each school year to proceed to the next grade.

Students have several options for high school. They can attend specific colleges for technological, technical and vocational training courses and receive a bachillerato, preparing them for the workforce. Otherwise, those who attend preparatoria gain a general education in subjects they may specialise in, such as in physical or social sciences. This prepares them for tertiary education.

Unfortunately, there have been reports of corruption in Mexican public schools. These schools are often underfunded, lack resources, and have high drop-out rates. This is especially true in rural areas, though urban centres are only marginally better.

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Private schools in Mexico

Private schools in Mexico tend to have a broader curriculum and better teachers than public schools. While public schools are secular, religious education may be available at some private schools.

When considering a private school, expats should ensure that it is accredited through the SEP, visit the school, meet with teachers, and check the curriculum to see if it is suitable. Parents may be unable to do this themselves before moving, but relocation companies offer extensive school-searching services.

International schools in Mexico

An international school is often the best choice for expat children. Attending an international school in Mexico will ensure that children receive a world-class education and can attend university in their home country or anywhere else in the world.

Most international schools in Mexico are located in large cities, such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. English, American, German, French and Japanese schools are available in Mexico. Tuition costs range greatly from affordable to pricey. Parents should also factor in where the school is and how they will get around between home, school, and work daily.

Read more about International Schools in Mexico.

Special-needs education in Mexico

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Like many other countries, Mexico is working towards inclusive education in private and public spheres. A specialised group of professionals, part of the Unidades de Servicio y Apoyo a la Educaión Regular (USAER), assist children with disabilities in regular classroom settings. These professionals include speech therapists, psychologists, special-education teachers and others.

Students with severe disabilities are not usually catered for in these settings and usually attend Centros de Atencion Multiple (CAM) for specific attention and care.

Unfortunately, there are barriers to inclusive education, such as limited training for teachers and confusion of roles between the main class teacher and professionals from the USAER. Many school environments are not physically adapted to individuals with certain needs, and infrastructure and resource development are still needed. 

Private and international schools are likely to afford better resources and support for expat children with disabilities.

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Nurseries in Mexico

Preschool is an important part of early childhood development, and many parents opt to send their children to nurseries and preschools. A nursery (guardería) allows parents to continue working and helps infants develop, gain necessary skills and begin socialising.

Daycares are easy to find in large cities. Some provide Montessori-based holistic approaches, and others are attached to international schools. Parents should consider how close the nursery is to their accommodation and the style of education.

Homeschooling in Mexico

Many families choose to homeschool their children in Mexico, and this is a beneficial solution for expat parents staying for a short term who are unhappy with public education but cannot afford international schools. Some parents may opt for part-time school learning and part-time homeschooling. 

Distance learning is possible through Mexico’s education system, and parents need to decide which curriculum they will use and how they will educate their children.

Homeschooling is not a decision to make lightly; parents will need to do their fair share of research and decide if it suits them. Additionally, homeschooling parents can seek tutors for private lessons and assistance.

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Tutors in Mexico

Tutors are a fantastic way to learn in Mexico and can be found to cater to children of all ages and subjects. Expats can network locally or use online platforms to find tutors, such as Apprentus, Preply or Mexico City’s UniversityTutor.

Children in all types of schooling can benefit from extra tuition. Adults can find tutors for their university courses or pick up some extra Spanish classes to better orientate themselves in their new homes. 

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