Mexico to reinstate teacher evaluations in restart of education reform

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's government will restart a key component of an education reform aimed at improving standards that it had suspended in the run-up to the weekend's mid-term election, the country's education minister said on Monday. President Enrique Pena Nieto came under heavy fire after the education ministry said on May 29 that its timetable for teacher evaluations, a cornerstone of the government's overhaul of the troubled education system, had been suspended indefinitely. But on Monday, the day after a mid-term vote that looked likely to give Pena Nieto's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its allies a slim congressional majority, Emilio Chuayffet, the education minister, said the teacher evaluations would be reinstated. "There is no detention of the reform, nor, even worse, any desire to cancel teacher evaluations, because without them, there wouldn't be an education reform," Chuayffet told reporters in Mexico City, adding that the evaluations would go ahead as planned on June 20, 21 and 22. Some opposition lawmakers condemned the suspension as a ploy by the PRI to shore up support for the election. The shelving of the teacher tests came after weeks of violent protests by dissident teachers' unions, which had threatened to sabotage the elections, fearing the education reform would undermine their power. Supporters of the reform say evaluations are needed to improve flagging education standards and root out corruption in teaching unions. Defenders of the teachers say that many poorer ones lack the means to meet required standards. (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner and Lisa Shumaker)