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The awards honor 40-year veteran teachers. The awards honor 40-year veteran teachers.

Gold medals for teachers cost education ministry 218 million pesos

Each engraved gold coin cost the government more than 60,000 pesos

The federal government’s austerity drive didn’t stop it from spending over 200 million pesos on gold medals to honor veteran teachers.

The Ministry of Public Education (SEP) purchased 3,308 medals last year at a total cost of more than 218.2 million pesos (US $11 million), according to a contract seen by the newspaper El Universal.

Each 42-gram Maestro Altamirano Medal, awarded to teachers who have worked in public or SEP-affiliated private schools for 40 years, cost 65,966 pesos (US $3,325).

The medal – which was first awarded over 80 years ago – is named after Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, a 19th century writer, teacher, journalist, lawyer, politician and diplomat.

The SEP purchased the more than 3,000 engraved medals from the jewelry company Talleres de los Ballesteros, which has stores in Mexico City and several states.

The contract was awarded directly, that is without a competitive tendering process. It is public but one of its clauses states that the information derived from the two parties entering into the contract as well as all information the SEP provides to the company is confidential.

Three high-ranking SEP officials signed the contract as did Mario Arturo Flores Majul, a representative of Talleres de los Ballesteros.

Delfina Gómez became public education minister in February 2021, but her name doesn’t appear on the contract.

President López Obrador has made austerity a centerpiece of his administration, and has eschewed the personal trappings of power such as the presidential plane and official residence, which was turned into a cultural center.

With reports from El Universal 

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