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Mexican president calls predecessor’s schools reform a foreign imposition

Mexico City, Mar 29 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that the educational overhaul enacted by predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto was part of a package of policies imposed from abroad.

“These are recipes applied abroad. The energy, tax, labor and educational reforms … it’s an agenda imposed from abroad to be implemented by subordinated governments,” the leftist head of state said during his daily morning press conference.

Lopez Obrador began the session by defending his government’s proposed replacement for the education plan launched in 2013 by Peña Nieto.

Lawmakers have been forced repeatedly to postpone a session to debate Lopez Obrador’s education bill as members of the militant CNTE teachers union have blocked the entrances to the chamber.

The CNTE claims that the administration is offering only cosmetic changes instead of scrapping all of Peña Nieto’s education policies.

Renewing his pledge to overturn the Peña Nieto program, Lopez Obrador criticized unnamed union leaders for acting without consulting “the sentiments of the members.”

The president then called on Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma to outline the distinctions between the educational reform of 2013 and the current repeal initiative.

“They are totally different approaches,” Moctezuma said, citing the abandonment of the element of the 2013 reform that most angered teachers: rules that made hiring, continued employment and promotions contingent on performance in compulsory evaluations.

The new plan will discard “punitive” testing in favor of ongoing training for teachers, the secretary said, adding that the aim is to strengthen “public and comprehensive” education.

“The previous government created a whole perverse system, with which it didn’t even comply,” Moctezuma said.
Peña Nieto presented the overhaul as a bid to improve the quality of education, Moctezuma said, “but there is no quality without equity.”

Another provision of the 2013 reform eliminated the role of unions in filling teaching positions, a role the Peña Nieto administration said invited corruption.

The new plan will foster complete transparency in the hiring and assignment process, with public disclosure of vacancies and candidates to those positions, Moctezuma said.

The CNTE, whose members are concentrated in Mexico’s poorest states, developed its confrontational tactics in opposition to Peña Nieto’s educational overhaul, which teachers saw as an attempt to make them scapegoats for the shortcomings of chronically underfunded schools.

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