GlObAliZATiON LEGACY: A View of U.S. Factory Involvement in Mexican Education

By Hampton, Elaine | Multicultural Education, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

GlObAliZATiON LEGACY: A View of U.S. Factory Involvement in Mexican Education


Hampton, Elaine, Multicultural Education


INTRODUCTION

This research is just a step in the arduous task of defining the legacy of globalization on education as cultures are forced into new association via an international economic agenda. The task must be ongoing. Also, its complexity must be underscored. A close and purposeful inspection of the international exchanges will help determine if global economic power over labor resources in developing countries is leaving damaging social gaps or a sustainable global society.

Although many countries host U.S. manufacturing operations, I focused on Mexico. Other countries who provide labor for foreign manufacturing are farther from examination and do not have "neighbor" status with the United States as does Mexico. Therefore, from my view in the southern border area of the United States, it is easier to examine the impact of these international economic exchanges by learning from my neighbors.

As a member of the society that is influencing many societal changes in Mexico, I feel that I must examine them carefully to weigh the economic benefit I derive from the cheaper products in U.S. markets against the social impact this activity spawns in Mexican education.

United States-Mexican interchanges have developed as a result of the encouragement for global economic activity provided by the increase in open trade during the last decades of the twentieth century. The economic changes engender by the global activities are monitored and documented to ensure benefit to the corporate interests. However, in the country hosting U.S. factory industries, the rapidly escalating societal changes left in the wake of the economic activity, such as those in education, are seldom monitored or documented.

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of U.S. business involvement in Mexican education through philanthropic contributions that arise as social needs become obvious and through education and training provided to the employees of those businesses.

Maquiladora Context

One definition of globalization that lends itself to this research is a flow of monies and commodities between nations designed to provide an economic advantage to businesses and industries involved in the interchanges. The governments of the cooperating nations provide incentives, such as tax reductions or transportation infrastructure to the businesses in hopes that the national economy will benefit.

One particular aspect of globalization in Mexico since the 1970s has been the rise of the maquiladora industry. A maquiladora is a manufacturing assembly plant located in Mexico and linked with a foreign nation, mostly the United States. Japan, Germany, Korea, Mexico, and other countries have maquiladoras, but the majority of the employees in maquiladoras work for U.S. firms. Usually raw materials or partially completed parts are shipped to Mexico to be assembled into a partially or fully completed product and then shipped back to the country of origin. About sixtyfive percent of this assembly line industry is located near the U.S. border and the rest in other regions of Mexico.

Economic and political interests dominate globalization's efforts. The impact of the factory industry on Mexican society is linked to corporate profits. The U.S. businesses with factories in Mexico are often Fortune 500 businesses with healthy profits. One factory may employ 1,000-2,000 people, 80 percent of whom are line workers. In the United States, each line worker's salary would be $10.00 per hour, often more(Cabral 2001). In Mexico, the same work is accomplished for $4.50 to $6.00 per day. Also, fewer union regulations in Mexico often speed production output. This "efficiency" may come at the cost of workers' rights.

Because of the close link to U. S economic health, the maquiladora industry is susceptible to the same diseases. When the U.S. economy took a downturn at the turn of the century, Mexican employment fell -47. …

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