Improvised classroom in the Chiapas school. Improvised classroom in the Chiapas school.

Students issue plea for new books, chairs

Video by Chiapas students demands that authorities 'fulfill their duties'

More than 20 years after the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, a new rebellion of sorts broke out in the southern border state.

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Tired of broken chairs, incomplete, out-of-date textbooks and makeshift classrooms, students at the Rosario Castellanos Figueroa Primary School in Tapachula issued a plea on video to the federal education secretary and the state governor for better resources and conditions at the school.

The recording subsequently went viral on social media.

Students used the video, filmed about two weeks before classes ended for summer vacation, to demonstrate the poor state of their chairs and desks and question why they haven’t received textbooks to which they are entitled.

“You go to other countries and speak about the bad, so-called education reform [but] when in your own house you don’t meet your responsibilities as secretary. In short, you are a demagogue and a traitor,” one student charged in the message to Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño.

“We demand that authorities fulfill their duties so that we can continue with our studies as we are the democratic future of our people,” another student declared.

The video concludes with the students shouting in unison, “Zapata vive, la lucha sigue” or “Zapata lives, the struggle continues.”

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Fifth-grade student Diego Alberto explained to the newspaper El Universal that after sitting through classes in “chairs that bite” and without the textbooks he needs for his studies, he came up with the idea of making a video that demonstrates the poor state of the school.

“We don’t want the biting chairs to continue hurting us,” Diego explained, “or have my classmates falling off broken chairs. We want them to give us our textbooks and not old editions. We don’t want to suffer the same way in the next school year.”

Teacher Efraín Roblero Hernández denies putting the students up to the video project or influencing them in any way.

“I filmed the video on my phone but at no time were the pupils manipulated like the supervisor of the school zone said during his visit.”

Class members corroborated his account.

“Nobody manipulated us . . . as students we had the idea to make this video because we wanted to tell authorities to send us the books we need for the next school year so that we do well in our learning.”

A tour around the school revealed its poor condition.

Most of the chairs and other furniture are in a state of disrepair and water leaks into at least one makeshift classroom when it rains.

School principal Julio César Alforo Maldonado said there are currently 300 students enrolled at the school, where parents have had to contribute financially to build some classrooms and purchase vital learning materials including whiteboards.

However, the problems facing the school are not uncommon in the state and schools in rural areas are in even worse condition, according to complaints from teachers.

Despite the school’s shortcomings, the principal asserted that students had still achieved considerable academic success including winning first place in knowledge Olympics contests.

It is unclear whether Nuño or state Governor Manuel Velasco responded directly to the students’ demands.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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