Music education helps the social and emotional development of children in Jalisco, Mexico

The first evaluation report for ECOS, Music for Development, a state music education programme in Jalisco, west Mexico has been published this month. The report shows a positive impact on school grades, self-esteem and conflict resolution and identifies areas for improvement.

The programme – which began in 2013 and now has 68 ECOS centres, 110 ensembles and 150 tutors – is aimed at children between the ages of six and 16 who live in marginalised communities or in urban areas in vulnerable conditions in Mexico. 4,268 students have taken part so far.

The main goal of the programme is to contribute to the personal development of students and the social development of communities they live in. The programme promotes the formal teaching and learning of music as a means of social development because of the State’s belief that learning music theory and playing an instrument contribute to wellbeing, self-esteem, behaviour and healthy development of children and young people.

The programme shares the same principles, purpose and philosophy of the El Sistema model but is not part of the El Sistema network of programmes.

About the evaluation

To measure the effect of the programme, an evaluation was carried out in 2017 to gather information on its impact. Two groups were created: firstly, the treatment group, containing students enrolled in ECOS between 2012- 2016; and secondly, the control group, containing students enrolled in ECOS in 2016-2017.

The evaluation results show that the music education courses impacted positively on the emotions of the children, and helped to develop their social abilities and self-esteem. The results also show that positive behaviour and non-aggressive attitudes are enforced by their parents or in their households.

The programme is run by the Mexican Government’s Department of Culture Jalisco, which is responsible for enabling democratic access to cultural activities as well as the promotion and preservation of the State heritage. The state government is responsible for 60% of the costs; the municipal authorities for 30%; and the parents of the students for 10%.

The main positive and negative results of the report can be seen below, or you can read the full report: ECOS, Music for Development.

Main Positive Results

  • Committed and motivated teaching and administrative personnel, allowing the children to feel comfortable and happy with the programme and allowing a better management of it.
  • The programme allows children in marginalised areas have access to cultural activities that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
  • The music classes have a positive impact on the mood of the children and is reflected on their grades in school.
  • The music classes have a positive impact on the self-esteem of the children who are enrolled in them compared to their schoolmates who are not.
  • Data suggests the gap in self-esteem between girls and boys who are enrolled in ECOS is reduced, whereas in children not enrolled in the programme girls tend to have lower self-esteem than boys.
  • Victimisation data suggests that children enrolled in the programme are more often victims of violence. Based on interviews to the children and their families it was found that music schools serve as a safe space for the children who are victims of violence.
  • Data suggests the programme promotes the pacific resolution of conflicts. Children enrolled in the program have more positive conducts than children who are not.

Main Negative Results

  • The specific objectives don’t appear among those in the Rules of Operation and the general guidelines of the program. As a consequence, there is no clear identification of the elements of the program and that its level of detail is not enough. There are actions and processes that need to be described still.
  • There are no short term goals making it more difficult to define measurable indicators. There are inconsistencies between the set objectives, the MIR and documented processes.
  • There is a gap in planning that won’t allow to identify actions to be followed, the goals that need to be met and how these elements must relate so that the program can be consolidated and can reach its objectives.
  • The process of diffusion of the program is not contemplated in the planned actions and activities.
  • The creation of the music centre doesn’t correspond neither with the approach nor the objectives established in the documents.Thank you to LRI Manuel Malacara, of the Institutional Development Department Ministry of Culture Jalisco, for contacting Music Education Works with news of this research.

ECOS web page:
Jalisco Culture Department:

Follow the Culture Department:
Twitter: @CulturaJalisco @ECOSJalisco
Facebook: @CulturaJalisco @ECOSJalisco

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