If you have school age children and are moving to Huatulco, congratulations! You are offering your children a unique, international experience. Your children will grow and learn with wider horizons and you will be amazed at how quickly they learn Spanish. Expats have a range of education options in Mexico and Huatulco. Here, we will provide you with an overview of the Mexican education system and some local options.
The Mexican Education System
In Mexico, schools are usually divided into three categories.
- Primary school or la Primaria, corresponds to grade or elementary school for ages 6-12 or grades 1 through 6.
- Secondary school or Secundaria, correspond to junior high schools or lower secondary school and serve ages 12-15 or grades 7 through 9. Secondary schools are sometimes called Colegios and usually refer to private junior high schools.
- High school or Preparatoria, the upper secondary schools, serve ages 15-18 or grades 10-12.
Preschools, nurseries and daycares are easy to find. Some provide Montessori-based approaches. Many schools will have all of the levels or at least two of the levels. This is especially true in private school formats.
From public preschool through public high school, Mexican schools are usually welcoming of foreign students. Mexican public schools are regulated by the SEP, Secretariat de Educación Publica and administered on a state basis. This organism also accredits the private schools. In your school search, you will always check to see that the school you choose is accredited by the SEP.
Schools put emphasis on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). School is compulsory until age 14, public school is free, but students are responsible for purchasing their textbooks and supplies.
Public Schools Vs. Private Schools
The quality of education just like everywhere, varies from school to school. Public schools can offer a good education but will greatly depend on faculty and staff. English is taught as a foreign language. Public schools suffer teacher strikes where classes may be out for some time. This plays a large part in the choice of private schools for many expats.
Private schools offer a broader curriculum than the public schools and have quality teachers and materials. Unlike public schools, teachers do not strike at private schools. Most expats opt for a private education for their children.
When considering a school for your children in Mexico, you will want to visit the school. It is virtually impossible to do this until you arrive. Meet with teachers and check out the curriculum to be sure it meets your expectations. Get a feel for the school atmosphere. Talk with other expats in your area about their experiences. Attend a school function. Be sure to check out local Facebook Forums like What’s Up Huatulco – Happening Community News where you can find many conversations about schools using the search tool. Or post your own questions. You will find a supportive and warm expat community in Huatulco with lots of valuable information.
Generally, you will provide the previous year’s school records, a birth certificate and photo ID’s for the child and parent for enrollment.
Schools in Huatulco
Huatulco has many public preschools and elementary schools which some expats consider as options for their smaller children to learn Spanish. They may then choose to homeschool in the afternoon. Homeschooling is allowed in Mexico.
There are a handful of private schools that offer all levels of education from preschool through high school. The following schools come recommended by Huatulco expats. Be sure to do your research and check out all the schools on your list.
- Instituto Mexico Huatulco or IMH– Preschool through high school. Many expats have had good experiences here. Dynamic private school using an online platform for the online courses or a hybrid system and a modern language-learning method. Some foreign nationals attend including Canadians and Americans. They offer TOEFL classes. The IMH responded well to transitioning to online classes during the height of the pandemic and to returning gradually to live classes.
The local expats interviewed for this article felt the school offers real learning experiences like music classes, painting classes with painters from Mexico City, surf classes, etc.
At the IMH, subjects are taught in both Spanish and English, so there is a double English language-learning component. Course books are good quality. The school developed a hybrid model of live and online learning classes through Flex Learning from AMCO to respond to the pandemic. The online learning platform uses modern software and hardware to deliver classes.
- Centro Escolar Siglo XXI – Preschool through high school. Private, well-run. The school organizes many cultural events, celebrations. They offer swimming classes in a semi-Olympic pool in the afternoons.
- Colegio Chahue is a secondary school for 12-15-year olds. It is located in Santa Cruz and has some good reviews.
- COBAO or Colegio de Bachilleres de Huatulco Plantel 22. This high school provides a quality public education experience in Huatulco. There is a competitive application process.
Locally, university studies are offered through Universidad del Mar or the UMAR. This university has several campuses. The Huatulco campus focuses on tourism and sustainable development, territorial planning in tourism, international and regional studies and communication sciences.
The Puerto Angel campus focuses on marine biology, coastal aquaculture, environmental biotechnology, microalgal and aquacultural biotechnology, maritime studies, environmental engineering, etc.
The Puerto Escondido campus offers ag science, geoscience, ecology, Earth science, forestry, informatics and biotic communities.
Generally, schools in Mexico focus on education and do not provide many or any extracurricular activities. Schools may have some activities, but the majority of activities your child will participate in are run through private clubs and organizations. Stand by for our upcoming blog post about Activities for Kids in Huatulco. And there are many!
Huatulco offers several solid educational establishments for your child from preschool through high school. If they are interested in marine or tourism studies, they will find great university options as well. Much more than just schools, Huatulco offers a rich educational experience including academics but also many open-air activities and an exceptional international expat community that will provide your child with friends and unique tools for succeeding in whatever path they choose to take.