There are several streets and schools in Mexico which bare his name – which, unfortunately, made headlines after the collapse of an elementary school in Mexico City during the September 19 earthquake – but who, exactly, was he?
Heinrich Rebsamen (known in Spanish as Enrique Rébsamen) was an educator born in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland in 1857, who after reading an essay titled “Quetzalcóatl” by Karl von Gagern, he decided to venture into our country when he was just 26 years old.
He first set out to become a private teacher for a friend in León, but he ultimately arrived at Mexico City in 1884, where he befriended other intellectuals of the era, like Ignacio Manuel Altamirano.
According to an article published by the Swiss Embassy in Mexico, during the “boom of education” in the country, Rebsamen's work began to make waves and he was summoned by the then-president of the Republic, Porfirio Díaz, who wanted him to work on an education project with Juan de la Luz Enríquez – governor of Veracruz.
Moreover, Rebsamen began to work on a pilot model for schools with Enrique Laubscher, a German college.
Rebsamen's plans were successful and when the Governor of Veracruz decided to execute an education reform, he put Rebsamen in charge of the foundation of teacher training colleges.
The first Teachers' College was founded in Jalapa, Veracruz, after which he was called to other states of Mexico to reform several schools and colleges.
Three years later, Justo Sierra and Rebsamen presided over the first National Congress of Public Instruction, held by Porfirio Díaz.
In 1889, Rebsamen published a magazine titled México Intelectual, which was widely acclaimed. In 1901 he was appointed Dean of the Teacher's Training in Mexico City. Rebsamen died in Jalapa in 1904.
He is famous for devising a guide for teaching History and for implementing “teaching as a system” in Mexico. His legacy still influences today's education system.