In Mexico after the revolution occurred in 1910, the new government initiated the spread of school education all over the country. Especially the policy encouraged the expansion of public education into rural areas where many ind genas (indigenous people) lived. The government tried to assimilate or integrate the indígenas into "Mexican society", namely the dominant society. The indígenas' proper cultures and languages were not much taken into consideration. After this, although the indígenas' languages were used in the rural schools from the second half of the 1930's and 'bilingual education'started in the 1960's, the final aim was to compel the indígenas to learn Spanish through their own languages.
At the end of the 1960's, however, some anthropologists began to criticize this educational policy toward the ind genas, asserting that it neglected the indígenas' "human rights" and extinguished their proper cultures and languages. In the 1970's, under a rising tendency to respect the indígenas' rights and cultures, "bicultural education" was introduced along with bilingual education. The indígenas elite, many of whom were bilingual teachers trained in bilingual education, were promoted to participate in policy making and its execution. In the second half of this decade, the government framed some new educational policies in order to spread school education even more over remote and isolated districts under a programme named "Educaci n para Todos (Education for All)".
In 1982, Mexico confronted an unheard-of economic crisis. The government intended to rehabilitate the country's economy and adopted so-called neo-liberal economic policies typified by accepting support of some international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank. One of the most symblic neo-liberal policies was the signing of NAFTA with the United States and Canada. However, the shift toward neo-liberal policies has not brought an improvement in the ind genas' lives, but has actually made conditions worse.
The educational reforms carried out in the 1970's helped the participation of ind genas and the spread of bilingual and bicultural education (multicultural education) over rural areas. Yet, the policies of this period would lead up to the neo-liberal policies of the 1980's.
This paper analyzes the rural and ind genas education of Mexico in the 1970s' in order to consider the relation between multiculturalism and neo-liberalism.