MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador presented an initiative on Wednesday aimed at repealing an education overhaul implemented by his predecessor and replacing it with a new plan guaranteeing access to free education at all levels.
The leftist head of state said the 2013 constitutional overhaul carried out during Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012-2018 administration was in reality a punitive “labor reform,” referring to its much-criticized compulsory teacher-evaluation component.
Lopez Obrador said he would send his constitutional reform plan on Wednesday to Congress, where his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party and its allies hold a majority in both houses.
The president, who is known as AMLO, said an initial agreement had been reached with parents and teachers, adding that those stakeholders must be an essential part of any plan to improve education.
“In the neoliberal period ... year after year thousands of young people were denied the chance to study with the lie, the pretext, that they didn’t pass the admissions test,” the president said in a press conference at Mexico City’s National Palace, the seat of the federal executive.
The term “neoliberal” is commonly used by leftists to refer to the policies of deregulation, privatization and budget austerity promoted by multi-lateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
But the fact is there were no places, according to Lopez Obrador, who said that problem will be solved by creating 100 new public universities.
Members of the militant CNTE teachers union, which is especially powerful in Mexico’s southern states, objected in particular to initial contracts, continued employment and promotions being conditioned upon educators’ performance in compulsory evaluations.
The CNTE has staged numerous protests, marches and strikes to demand the repeal of Peña Nieto’s overhaul.
Public Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma said that under AMLO’s plan teacher evaluations would continue but henceforth would be used as part of ongoing training programs.
A two-thirds majority in both houses of Mexico’s Congress is needed to pass constitutional changes.