that affect the quality of educational results without addressing the problems of the population. This program has been revised and expanded and is now operating in all the marginal municipalities in the country, financed by additional loans from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. In more recent versions, it has incorporated early childhood education (a non-formal program aimed at parents) and adult education (literacy and basic education). Nevertheless, though we can say that some effects are visible in educational achievement, particularly for children attending the poorest schools, four years seems not to have been enough to impact repetition and dropout rates in the four poorest states of the country.
In general, school failure among children living in poor rural and indigenous regions in poor states has proven to be a more difficult problem to solve than was originally imagined by the designers of the programs.
Mexico wishes to combat failure. The main objectives for the primary school level of the 1995 educational program that now orients educational policy (Poder Ejecutivo Federal 1995) are the improvement of quality, equity, and relevance. Clearly, the achievement of universal basic education has to do with our capacity for dealing with failure in very well defined sectors of the population: the indigenous communities, the very small dispersed rural communities, the urbanmarginal settlements, and the rural migrant workers. These groups probably represent around 90 percent of coverage problems and a similar percentage of school failure.
We are learning to combat failure. The educational ingredient of these programs should have priority over the administrative one. Closer follow-up mechanisms including community and classroom observation should be an integral part of evaluation procedures. But perhaps the most important question to consider has to do with the appropriation of the program on the part of principals, teachers, and communities. Greater participation of both teachers and community members in the identification of the problems of each school and in the definition of what they need in order to solve them would perhaps make implementation of programs aimed at combating school failure more complex, but would probably lead to faster and more lasting results.
Carrasco Alma Altamirano, ed. 1994. Evaluación de aprendizajes escolares. Programa Niños de Solidaridad. Puebla: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. Mimeo.
Ezpeleta, J., and E. Weiss. 1994. Programa para abatir el rezago educativo. Evaluación cualitativa de impacto. Informe final. Mexico: Departamento de Investigaciones Educativas del Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional.
Guevara N. G. 1991. "México: ¿Un aíis de Reprobados?" Nexos 14: 162.
Martinez F. Rizo, and M. E. Escalera. 1990. La educación básica en México: Diagnóstico de la educación básica en Aguascalientes 1983. Mexico: Secretaria de