Mexico wants its kids speaking English as well as Spanish within 20 years

Mexican Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño said Monday night that he expects that every school could have an English teacher in 10 years and then wishes to pursue a longer-term goal to have all teachers fluent in English and Spanish. English classes would be provided for students from elementary through high school under the new plan.

The English goal is part of a broader overhaul of Mexico’s education system that began four years ago at the beginning of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term. The thrust of the change is to get away from a public school system known for rote memorization and complicated bureaucracy to one of higher-quality education where teachers are qualified and children “learn to learn” in different ways, Nuño said.

The Education Ministry also plans to allow schools to choose 20 percent of the curriculum. As of last year, schools could choose the length of the school year based on local conditions.

The education reforms have faced stiff resistance. Powerful teachers unions, particularly in the southern states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas and Michoacan, have opposed the reform requiring mandatory tests for teachers. Peña Nieto’s administration has attempted to wrest control from union bosses that in some areas controlled hiring decisions and education budgets. This conflict spawned regular protests, roadblocks and other demonstrations that have at times turned deadly.