Under the leadership of President Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico has recently approved a historic constitutional amendment reforming the country’s archaic education system. In order to push this historic reform, which is commonly known as the “education reform”, President Pena Nieto overcame great opposition from the country’s teachers union, which is the largest union in Latin America. The powerful union has been led by Elba Esther Gordillo for over thirty years and has wielded great power over elections throughout the country. In an unprecedented turn of events, the union lost the battle against the reform and its omnipotent leader was arrested and now faces embezzlement charges. If found guilty, Gordillo could face thirty years in prison.
The reform establishes a merit based system and does away with the tight control the union has held over all facets of the education system. Until now, the union has unilaterally controlled all hiring and firing of teachers. This has led to wide-spread corruption whereby teacher positions may be traded or sold to unqualified teachers. It is also believed that the education system’s payroll currently includes thousands of phantom teachers who simply collect a salary. The reform will allow for the first audit of the education system and an end to much of the corruption and waste.
More importantly, the education reform seems to signify a willingness and an appetite for change. Mexico’s education system has been untouched for over seventy years. This new administration has successfully taken on an archaic system and a very powerful union. It appears as though President Pena Nieto is sending a message to Mexico and beyond that it’s time to do things differently. This monumental reform may be the catalyst the country needs to push for further tax and other business reforms that will allow Mexico become more competitive and business-friendly. For now, the education reform has opened the way for Mexico to become more prosperous across the board by giving its population a better quality education.
To see Mexico’s constitution, including the education reform amendment please visit: http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/1.pdfCopyright © 2014, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.