Diversity, the foundation of education


On this occasion, in our Educational Dialogues, we had the opportunity to speak with a great personality of education in Mexico: Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa, who has a huge journey in the field of public and private education at various levels and modalities educational.

All this has allowed her to position herself as a specialist in education throughout the Mexican Republic. With a great career and professional experience as a normalist, administrator, teacher, researcher, lecturer, with an extensive compendium of academic publications, as well as having been Treasurer, General Secretary, Vice President and currently President of the Mexican Council of Educational Research (COMIE) and Chief of the Department of Economic Production in the UAM-X, among many other activities that it carries out.

She is a candidate to occupy a position in the Board of Directors of the National System of Continuous Improvement of Education, in process of formation. Undoubtedly, with the excellent profile that she has, she is an ideal candidate to be elected and, from her knowledge and extensive experience, contribute to the achievement of the objectives that have been raised in the recently modified Article 3. Constitutional, which regulates education in Mexico.

The new educational organization requires the best profiles to address the problems and challenges of the present and future of education in Mexico. For all this and much more, it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to interview Dr. Angélica Buendía.

Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa.

Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa.
(Miguel Ángel Gallegos Cárdenas / MAGC)

Thank you for your kindness in receiving us at your office at the Autonomous Metropolitan University, Xochimilco Unit. To start our talk and learn more about the Doctor, we started asking, how is Angélica Buendía Espinosa defined?

– "I am a woman born in the municipality of Texcoco in the State of Mexico, when that community was still more rural than urban".

I was one of the first women who left my colony, which was not the center of Texcoco, to study a university career in Mexico City. My parents, humble people, had seven children, we were a big family, with many deficiencies. My mother only studied primary school and my father the secondary school that remained unfinished, both were employees of the Autonomous University Chapingo, she was a cook and he was in charge of the maintenance as a glass setter. They always pushed me to get ahead, they considered that education was the only means for what we know as social and economic mobility ".

"In them and in my brothers I found my main impulse, thanks to their support and their advice. Today that support is given to me by my family, I have a daughter and a son who are a fundamental part of my life ".

– Then, the university began to permeate you as a child, since you had the opportunity to play and walk in the facilities of the Autonomous University of Chapingo when accompanying your parents at some time. You come from a position in which it was surely not easy to break through, given the circumstances you were facing at the time. Could you share us, what is your academic background? That is, where he trained professionally and academically speaking.

– "I had the opportunity to study the normal school baccalaureate in the Normal No. 21 of Texcoco, I approached teaching from this space. Later, I entered the Metropolitan Autonomous University, Iztapalapa Unit, where I studied the Bachelor in Administration. When I graduated from this university, I started working at the Autonomous University of Chapingo, as an administrative assistant, at that time it was not that complicated to find a job. I spent some time my professional training in the budget analysis department of the Agricultural High School department. I practically spent four years in Chapingo, but at that time, coincidentally, the selection process for the second generation of the Master's Degree in Economics and Management of Technological Change at the UAM-X was completed. The opportunity was presented and I decided to make my entrance to the master's degree, which I concluded at the beginning of 1998. Just at that time, I was starting the project of Technological Universities in Mexico, and the government requested support to the same master's degree to collaborate with graduates and , very young, I went to work as a research professor at the Technological University of the North of Guanajuato, located in the northern highlands of the state. Then, in 2003, I entered a PhD in Social Sciences in the area of ​​Society and Education at the Autonomous Metropolitan University, Unidad Xochimilco. "

Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa, with the correspondent reader of La Vanguardia, Miguel Ángel Gallegos.

Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa, with the correspondent reader of La Vanguardia, Miguel Ángel Gallegos.
(Miguel Ángel Gallegos Cárdenas / MAGC)

– We can summarize that while you were studying, you had the opportunity to work. He was moving forward in his life, he was making his way, and somehow he was alternating study and work. Although you already told us some of your work experiences, could you expand more on your experience in the workplace of education?

– "After my work experience at the Autonomous University of Chapingo and at the Technological University of the North of Guanajuato, I entered the private sector. Specifically, to the University of the Valley of Mexico, where I worked for several years, practically from the beginning of 1998 until 2007, although I made a parenthesis because I went to study the doctorate. I first entered as a teacher, then I was a degree coordinator, very soon I was appointed teacher coordinator, later, I was assigned the responsibility as director of institutional development and I became director of an academic division of Social Sciences, one of the largest campuses of the University".

There I had the opportunity to be very close to the processes of evaluation and institutional accreditation of higher education, which began to have their peak as part of public policies for higher education. There I got involved with the plans and programs, evaluation, indicators, teachers, students, educational models, among many other topics. In addition, the UVM offered us a lot of teacher training, on didactics, curricular design, pedagogical practices and teaching-learning processes. All this allowed me to broaden the understanding of the educational field, in addition, being in the normal was decisive to know that education was, is and has been one of my greatest passions in life. "

"I did several courses and graduates in all these subjects. I found it fundamental to study, read, investigate, intervene in education and its processes. In the UVM I was very close in the evaluation and accreditation processes, this generated me many reflections and questions, the main ones were: to what extent do these processes really improve the quality of education? How to conceptualize the quality of the education? and why do we educate? I mentioned that I made a parenthesis in this work space, because my questions and reflections that, by the way, were of little interest in private education, led me to decide to study evaluation in depth, through the doctorate ".

My interest was to understand the theoretical and epistemological foundations and the functioning of the evaluation. I wanted to discover that field, because in my experience the evaluation was to improve education, but I still saw several inconsistencies, without reaching the goal of improvement. From public policy, organizational analysis and institutional theory I studied the evaluation, accreditation, quality and privatization of higher education, in the doctorate ".

"Once again I linked my work experience with my studies and research interests. I had the great fortune to meet the most prominent educational researchers of all UAM units, today great friends. To all of them I have great appreciation and respect for their work, but two of them have marked my academic and personal career: Magdalena Fresán Orozco and Eduardo Ibarra Colado. Later I had the opportunity to stay at Stanford University, the Research Center for Higher Education at the University of Kassel in Germany and I worked on a Latin American project to evaluate the effects of evaluation and accreditation, led by the Research Center and Cinda Development in Chile, where I was able to expand my academic vision. I joined the Technical Office of the Academic Council, as a research professor in 2007 at the Cuajimalpa Unit of the UAM, and as a research professor in the same Unit, in 2009. In 2013 I joined the Xochimilco Unit, and in 2015 I was appointed as coordinator of the Master's Program in Development and Educational Planning. As of April 2018, I am the Head of the Economic Production Department at UAM-X. I joined the Mexican Council for Educational Research (COMIE) nine years ago, I was accepted as a candidate and later as a member. As of 2014, I have served as Treasurer, General Secretary, Vice President and currently as President of COMIE. "

– With this great academic training and work experience, what is your perception of public education at the present time that Mexican society is living? Angelica Buendía Espinosa:

– "I was trained in public education, I believe and I am convinced that public education is an obligation of the State, it is an obligation with citizens, with people, with the country. It is true that we have many challenges, but I also believe that we must recognize the achievements made to date. We would be unfair to those who have formed and forged the institutions that have to do with education in our country, and I believe that in order to move forward we must recognize the successes and mistakes of the past. We have had important organizations and institutions that have given guidance to what public education has achieved.

I am aware that the international environment changed, and we learned to see ourselves beyond the national territory, and to think about how we can measure or value education according to what happens in other places. Which is valuable, but it is also very valuable to recognize that we are different. And I think that's where we have to bet, in recognizing diversity, not only the diversity of gender that is fundamental, but diversity in a much broader sense. We must recognize that schools, teachers, contexts are different. "

"Having had the opportunity to work in the public and private sectors allows me to say that I know both fields and I believe that we must also advance in collaboration, that is, in not seeing these sectors as separate. Regarding public education, I consider it a decisive moment with the latest reform. Recognize education as a human right, also responding to the international context, specifically the SDGs, which led to raise its obligation at all levels. The obligation poses two major challenges. The first is equity so that all educational options respond to meet the differences with the same quality ".

We can not just talk about expanding coverage, all girls, boys and young people; they deserve worthy educational spaces. This implies also recognizing that teachers and professors, academics and academics, work in diverse conditions, have different backgrounds and different interests and motivations. This implies rethinking recognition and training policies. They are a great axis that must be attended to ".

"But we must do it from the knowledge and in Mexico it has generated a lot in this respect. Finally, I would add that state commitment to education is required, and that commitment must be translated not only into the educational reform, but into financing necessary for its realization, without which we are facing a dead letter ".

Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa and the correspondent reader of La Vanguardia, Miguel Ángel Gallegos, after the conclusion of the Educational Dialogue.

Dr. Angélica Buendía Espinosa and the correspondent reader of La Vanguardia, Miguel Ángel Gallegos, after the conclusion of the Educational Dialogue.
(Miguel Ángel Gallegos Cárdenas / MAGC)

– It is very encouraging to listen to it, it has a great vision in the various topics that have to be addressed and considered to improve in the educational field. I like that you mention that you have to learn from the past. From the experience and vision that you have, although we already gave you a bit of it, how do you think that improvements could be achieved in the field of public education?

– "I am convinced that diversity, difference and progress towards better public policy schemes must be addressed. There is a lot of theoretical support, but there is also a lot of empirical evidence that we can do it.

We compare ourselves with a country like Finland, but we are different, we are a multicultural, contrasting country. We are one hundred and twenty million inhabitants and we have another context. We must start from what we are and think about where we want to take our country with the support of education, what educational project is the one that will make us the best country, the one that forms the best citizens, the one that helps us to mitigate the inequality that today offends, pity. I think we should think about what is measurable and what is not in the educational field, because now we want to measure everything. It is thought that with the increase in indicators, reality will change, but it does not happen that way ".

"My research has shown me that at least in higher education, no matter how many programs you have evaluated and accredited, there is not enough or expected impact on the quality of what students perceive as their learning, their training. Comply with the administrative or procedural, does not result in a change in educational facts. I remember an example in one of my researches, in which the professors told me, "the next day the evaluation and accreditation, when we come to review a committee, there are computers, but the next day they are taken because they were rented". What makes us think that these ways of measuring everything have only led to simulation, and what we need is not to simulate, but to improve education. I think he fell into an abuse to generate indicators. You have to mediate between what is measurable and what is not. "

On the other hand, on specific issues there is a lot to do, I believe that we must generate attention spaces for vulnerable children. We must think about new models of admission to upper and upper secondary education that do not only consider merit and hold only students responsible for "their educational failures". Specifically, we must rethink evaluation, address diversity, build better, less homogenous public policies, think about groups in more unfavorable conditions, recognize talented young people, learn to collaborate between public and private education, and we demand more educational justice and social, always based on knowledge, evidence and educational intervention ".

– Your knowledge in various educational topics is very wide, you have a great vision of what should be done in many national education issues. Although it has already been addressed, I would like to remind you that we are experiencing a historic and transformative moment, no doubt the current government is carrying out new measures, however, I would like to ask you, what other issues do you think should be addressed from the project? education that heads the 4T?

"Initial education, basic education is a priority that must be addressed. I think that recovering normal schools without a paternalistic vision is something very important, and we are already making progress, we must continue.

It must break with the homogenization of education. Different types of institutions must be differentiated, not everything is the same. It seems to me that a recognition system should be created for teacher training, in keeping with the institutional diversity, with the diversity of training required by the country. We must address inequalities, as well as generate opportunities for girls, boys and young people. The obligatory and the free, transita in different forms and levels. It must reflect beyond these concepts, how they are applied and how they do not open gaps that later become insurmountable ".

"We must stop thinking about the idea that academics and researchers are privileged, that social imaginary has been built. What we do is contribute and make available to society and government what we have built. We want to support, the country has invested in us. I owe everything to public education, I'm in the National System of Researchers and I put what I know at my country's disposal. I think we are all in that logic. Building my educational, professional and research training trajectory has taken me at least 40 years of life, why do not we have the right to have a decent life, as do all Mexicans and Mexicans? We are constantly evaluated internally and externally to our institution, nothing is given to us for free. As I mentioned, I am president of COMIE, where a large amount of educational research is generated that can serve the authorities for more informed decision making. But in each field of knowledge, in each discipline, Mexican academics have made great contributions to the generation of knowledge necessary for the development of our country, and I am sure that we all want to contribute to a more just and equitable Mexico.

– As you are a central player in research and education in Mexico, what projects do you have in a short future? That is, what is your work schedule for the coming years?

I joined the Mexican Council of Educational Research in 2010, and since 2014 I have supported some management positions, always with the collaboration and experience of my colleagues. I will finish my term in the presidency in December of this year, this great project that has been for me the COMIE, that has left me many satisfactions, many apprenticeships and many friends. Currently I am the head of the Department of Economic Production at UAM-X and it is a position that I would have to leave in 2021. At the end, I plan to take a sabbatical because I have several research projects in progress and I will dedicate myself to them, to analyze the processes of institutionalization and change in education; organizational analysis; as well as inequality, education and educational justice, are issues that I will continue to work on. So there is a lot to do. Also, at this moment I participate in the process to occupy a position in the Board of Directors of the National System of Continuous Improvement of Education in Mexico, which will be elected by the Senate of the Republic, and if it is considered that I am a person who can contribute, I will have to leave some things to devote myself body and soul to that national commission. We are waiting, but I can say with certainty that the experience of participating has been very enriching for me.

What I will not stop doing is continue working to improve the education of my country, from the field where I am. This is my classroom, my scientific production and my role in educational management. That's Angélica Buendía. "

– Without a doubt, she is an education professional and I am very happy to know that she is participating in the process of forming the board of directors of the new educational organization, I am sure she will be there, her experience and training will be of great help for decisions that will be taken for the benefit of national education. Finally, Dr. Angélica Buendía, teachers are a very important agent at all levels, however they were forgotten in past governments, they were even mistreated; Therefore, I would like to ask you, what message would you give to teachers in Mexico?

– "I am a teacher, I include myself among them, I have been a teacher all my life, I have traveled through all educational levels. Teachers are agents of change and in each generation that goes through our lives, we know how to recognize each student. Sometimes we get involved in issues that we should not, but it is that vocation to be a teacher and to want to support each other in order to get ahead. We can not let the students pass because they are our future generations. I want the education of our country to improve, and that depends on everyone. We should not skimp on betting on education, science and health, they are fundamental for the development of our country.

For education teachers are a key element we must assume the role that touches us in educational change, with vocation, commitment, responsibility and passion for what we do. "

– It gives me great pleasure to hear your response and message to the teachers, seeing and including each other, because you have been in the service of education in different positions, but above all as a teacher. Sincerely it has been a delight to be able to converse with you, it has taught us a lot. We wish you much success in your future plans and that you will always continue to serve the nation from wherever you are. Dr. Angelica Buendía Espinosa is very successful!


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