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If you're planning to move to Mexico with your family or you have chosen to study there, here is all that you need to know about schooling and the higher education system.

Primary, secondary, and high school

The process for enrolling your children in grade school begins with the immigration office. Before they can attend school in Mexico, they must first become temporary or permanent residents. Here is more information about visas for Mexico.

Once they have the Mexican residence card, you can apply for their CURP number at a government office. The CURP (Clave Única de Registro de Población, or the Unique Population Registry Code in English) is an identification number for all citizens and residents. It is a requirement for children to enrol in Mexican primary and secondary schools. Find out how to apply for the CURP on this website (in Spanish).

Other requirements may be a comprobante de domicilio, which is a proof of residence like an electric bill, and the child’s most recent report card, translated to Spanish, so the school administration will know in which grade the child should be placed. In a private school, there will also be tuition fees. It’s a good idea to visit the school as soon as possible, both to check the requirements and also to confirm that it has enough space for a new student.

In most cases, enrolling in high school is more complicated, and the exact procedure varies depending upon the state and municipality of the school. Along with the same requirements for enrolment in primary and secondary education, the high school may also request that the student’s previous studies are revalidated, which means either a person at the school or a third party will research the courses and find their equivalents in Mexican educational institutions.

There will also be fees for any high school, public or private, because only primary and secondary school are considered basic education in Mexico, which is guaranteed to all and funded by taxes. Therefore, visit the high school first to receive specific information.

Higher education in Mexico

Requirements for attending university in Mexico are different at each institution. A crucial first step is to contact the university or check out its website.

In general, the student will need originals of his or her birth certificate and all documents from previous educational institutions, such as certificates and transcripts. Contact previous schools for these originals, even if you already have them, because it is a good idea to have a backup. In most cases, these documents will also need to have official certifications called apostilles. They are usually inexpensive and fairly straightforward to get, but do it before you come to Mexico to avoid paying (and waiting) for courier services.

Another requirement is that previous studies are revalidated, as for high school described above. If the university requests that a third party does this, ask them to recommend one, so you know that they will accept it later.

Spanish courses

Many people come to Mexico for short-term Spanish immersion courses. While they may not be as affordable as those in some parts of Central or South America such as Guatemala or Bolivia, you’ll find that they are much cheaper than a similar course in western countries, and of course, residing in a Spanish-speaking country is an added benefit to learning the language.

Look for small, independently-run Spanish schools in tourist areas. These schools usually offer one-on-one instruction, homestays, and activities. You may also look on message boards in hostels.

Another option is to visit language centres in major public universities. Spanish courses in these centres are designed for their exchange students, but they usually accept anyone. Unlike private schools, these are typically group classes with a fixed curriculum. UNAM in Mexico City, for instance, offers Spanish courses at its CEPE, Centro de Enseñanza para Extranjeros (Learning Centre for Foreigners).

Other courses

Public universities are also a good resource for finding adult-education courses in a variety of topics, such as cooking, traditional sewing and weaving, or other cultural studies. Every major Mexican city has a public university, and most have a special centre for these types of courses. They are usually quite affordable, and not only are they a good way to learn a new skill, but they are also great for making new friends. Visit the admiration office of a major public university to ask for information about its cultural centre (centro cultural) or department of cultural diffusion (difusión cultural).

 Useful links:

Obtaining a CURP
UNAM Learning Centre for Foreigners
Cultura UNAM 

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