AS/COA Online | Exclusive Interview: Juan Carlos Rulfo and Daniela Alatorre on the Making of ¡De Panzazo!

As the documentary ¡De Panzazo! explains, Mexico is the OECD member that spends the most on education in terms of public spending, yet its education system ranks last in terms of quality. ¡De Panzazo! (Barely Passing) director Juan Carlos Rulfo and producer Daniela Alatorre spoke with AS/COA Online’s Carin Zissis after the film’s New York premiere on June 4 at Americas Society. With the support of civil society group Mexicanos Primero, the documentary calls for quality education and teacher evaluations in Mexico. Rulfo and Alatorre explain how they became involved in the project, involving Mexican students in the film’s production, the need to share best educational practices on an international level, and the impact of the film during a Mexican election year.

AS/COA Online: As the film implies, Mexico’s educational challenges have a long history. What sparked the making of the film now?
Alatorre: So this was a process of three years. Mexicanos Primero had been working at least for three years, so that makes it six now. And they thought they needed to do something big that could talk to a broader audience. And so they talked to [Mexican news anchor] Carlos Loret. Then they said: “Why don’t we do a series of TV shows?”
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AS/COA Online | Interview: Mexican Undersecretary for Foreign Relations Lourdes Aranda

Mexican Undersecretary for Foreign Relations Lourdes Aranda discusses her country’s role as this year’s G20 host. Aranda, who serves as a G20 representative, explained why Mexico's role in guiding the G20 agenda toward achieving goals in the areas of green growth, food security, and economic stability.

Video edited by David Gacs.

AS/COA Online Exclusive Interview: Costa Rica’s Education Minister Leonardo Garnier on Innovations in Teaching

“[T]he central strategy we have followed is not just to have more students, but to offer a more relevant, significant education.”

Costa Rica’s high literacy rate has long made its educational system the envy of the Americas. Still, high school enrollment and access to higher education remain tough challenges in the Central American country. Costa Rican Education Minister Leonardo Garnier spoke with AS/COA Online’s Editor-in-Chief Carin Zissis, not only about how his country is fighting dropout rates, but also how new teaching approaches and technology can play a role in boosting education. Garnier says that changes underway offer “more relevant, more significant, and more entertaining education so that kids will stay in high school—but they will stay for a good reason, not just for staying there.”

AS/COA Online: With a 96 percent literacy rate, one of Latin America’s highest, many see Costa Rica’s education system as a model for other countries in the region. What models in other parts of the world do you look to for inspiration and ideas?

Garnier: Well, I don’t see Costa Rica as a model. I think we have done some things that have been useful for us, but still, we have a lot of problems. When we look at other countries, for example, the things that small countries like Finland have done with education, certainly there is big room for improvement in our system.

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