Completed Research

The Invisibility of Children with Cognitive Disability in Marginalized Mexican Communities

Inside the community of Lomas Modelo in Monterrey, Escalando Fronteras, a non-governmental organization that works with children in vulnerable situations through a sports climbing initiative, detected a severe cognitive delay among children – despite them having access to public education. This cognitive delay has gone unnoticed by the community’s public school, and its causes and impact have yet to be studied. This case study examines current public policies and their repercussions on the cognitive delay among children in marginalized communities.

Hard to Reach

Children, teenagers, and their families who live outside urban areas in Mexico who have been victims of social inequality, political violence, and poor-quality education.

Key Takeaways

Education is one of 29 fundamental rights established by the Mexican constitution, and perhaps the only one that every government has failed to support. Even though Mexico has made significant progress in the coverage of educational services,
there are still obstacles associated with the social and economic context that affects these policies effectiveness. Initiatives like Escalando Fronteras’s handbook can help improve the cognitive immaturity of children but without the support of the Mexican
government, any initiative from local NGOs will not solve a national problem.


This research was made possible through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. This research was completed by researchers at Tecnológico de Monterrey, members of the Reach Alliance. We thank the residents of Lomas Modelo Norte in Monterrey; La Luz and San Ángel in Coahuila; and Campo Experimental del Norte in Sinaloa for letting us enter their communities and for helping us by sharing information for our investigation.

This research wouldn’t have been possible without the support and accompaniment of Nadia Vázquez and Alejandro Medina, founder and director, respectively, of the NGO Escalando Fronteras, which is our major ally on this project, not only for being our gatekeepers in Lomas Modelo Norte, but for guiding us through the research and teaching us a lot about empathy
and humility when working with a marginalized community.

Finally, we thank our tutors: Iza María Sánchez, Diana Araiz, Josefina Cortés, Pilar González, Luis Alberto Lozano, Paulina Millán, Consuelo Muttio, and Anabel Rodríguez for guiding, teaching, and supporting us all the way through the realization of this project.