While economic productivity has been growing in the last two decades, the pace is lower compared to other emerging economies. The main indicators of Mexico’s drop in productivity growth rankings are human capital, workforce training and education. Mexico’s innovative potential is hampered by the low quality of education (100th) especially in math and science (124th), the low use of ICT (81st), and the low uptake by businesses of new technology to spur productivity improvements and innovation (75th). In order to strengthen and develop human capital for long-term growth, economic competitiveness and social progress, Mexico has developed a national system of competence standards (NSCS), linked to the developing Mexican qualifications framework (MQF).
Challenges and opportunities
There are several factors that make the recognition of non-formal and informal learning particularly relevant and important in Mexico. Due to demographic changes and migration of many young people to the USA, a gradual aging of the population has taken place. At the same time the proportion of people who never entered school or who left school early is higher than those who are registered in initial education. Despite these features, Mexican society places high importance on qualification levels and is a strongly credentialist society. Raising levels of education, skills development and social engagement are seen as crucial for the continued development of a strong social and economic democracy in Mexico.
National standards, policy and framework activity
The conception and development of Agreement 286 (and the associated Agreements) is a key policy response to the above challenges. It is designed to give learners access to all levels of the education system by offering an alternative pathway to that provided by the formal system. This Act also allows equivalences of competence certificates with credits of formal education programmes at the vocational and professional levels. The Mexican approach distinguishes between separate pathways to the same educational or qualification outcome. The informal and non-formal pathways, though outside the traditional institutional structures, are nevertheless considered significant enough to be deemed equivalent pathways to a qualification (Campero Cuenca et al., 2008).
Mexico displays a sub-sectoral approach to the recognition of non-formal and informal learning, with different approaches in primary and secondary education, higher education and the employment sector.
In the employment sector, Mexico has developed a National System of Competence Standards (NSCS). The aim is to strengthen and develop human capital for economic competitiveness and social progress. The National Council for Standardisation and Certification of Labour Competences (CONOCER) is the body responsible for the development and implementation of the NSCS. CONOCER includes government officials, employers’ and workers’ representatives, as well as educators. According to Ministry of Education Agreement 286 (Acuerdo 286 de la SEP; issued on 30 October 2000), CONOCER certificates of labour competence are equivalent to full or partial formal programmes, at technical and/or professional levels of the national education system.
The Mexican Qualifications Framework (MQF) is a comprehensive framework developed by the General Directorate of Accreditation, Incorporation and Revalidation (Dirección General de Acreditación, Incorporación y Revalidación; DGAIR), within the Ministry of Public Education (SEP). Stakeholders from all sectors (industry, education and civil society) have participated in the development of the MQF. CONOCER has been active specifically on issues related to the NSCS and on equivalencies with formal educational degrees.
Additionally, in October 2012, the Ministry of Education announced the new Mexican Bank of Academic Credits (announcement published by DGAIR on the official Mexican Government Diary of October the 4th 2012, article 8), which allows certificates of competence from CONOCER and from other recognised private and public training / certification centres to be accredited as part of formal education programmes at lower and upper secondary levels.
Campero Cuenca, C., Hernández Flores, G., Klesing-Rempel, U., Méndez Puga, A.N., Ruiz Munoz, M., Arévalo Guizar, G., Guzmán Máximo, G., Fernández Zayas, C. and Mendieta Ramos, M. 2008. El desarrolo y el estado de la cuestión sobre el aprendizaje y la educación de adultos (AEA). Documento complementario de México. Hamburg, UIL.
Castro-Mussot, L.M. and de Anda, M.L. 2007. Mexico’s National Adult Education Programme. In: M. Singh, M. and L. M. Castro Mussot (eds), Literacy, Knowledge and Development: South-South policy dialogue on quality education for adults and young people. Hamburg/Mexico City, UIL/INEA, pp. 117–139.
Estatuto Orgánico del CONOCER [Organisational Statute of CONOCER] Presentación institucional CONOCER [CONOCER institutional presentation] http://www.conocer.gob.mx/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=100 (Accessed 6 January 2012).
García-Bullé, S. 2013. Mexico. National System of Competence Standards (NSCS). In: M. Singh and R. Duvekot, eds. 2013. Linking Recognition Practices and National Qualifications Frameworks: International benchmarking of national experiences and strategies on the recognition, validation and accreditation of non-formal and informal learning. Hamburg, UIL, pp. 197–206.
Registro Nacional de Estándares de Competencia del CONOCER [National Registry of Competences Standards [http://www.conocer.gob.mx/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=11 (Accessed 6 January 2012).
Reglas Generales y criterios para la integración y operación del Sistema Nacional de Competencias. [Rules of operation of the National Competences Standard System] http://www.conocer.gob.mx/pdfs/documentos/reglas_generales_criterios.PDF (Accessed 6 January 2012).
Department of Public Education,