A street school opens to poor children in Mexico City
A blacksmith shop, an old truck or the sidewalk are transformed every morning into classrooms in a suburb of Mexico City, where poor children, driven away from schools by the pandemic, try to change their destiny by learning with volunteers.
"I am!", Two girls enthusiastically repeat, writing down the English words that the teacher writes on the board in their notebooks. This is how the "Rinconcito de esperanza" street school begins its journey, between irons and welding equipment.
Nearby, under a tent set up in a pick-up truck, María Luisa Barajas, a 40-year-old housewife, tries to connect to a Wi-Fi network from an old cell phone to download teaching materials used by her 11-year-old daughter Aide.
We have set up a small room with TV, internet, a laptop and a smartphone to help children without resources to take their classes, with the commitment to get ahead, Dalia Dávila, project manager, told AFP.
Dávila refers to the rear of the vehicle, equipped with benches, to which the students climb with face masks and after washing their hands to avoid contagion of covid-19.
The merchant launched the initiative a month ago to support vulnerable families in the cycle that, due to the health emergency, started on August 24 with television classes for 30 million schoolchildren.
So far, four volunteer teachers, donors of electronic devices and neighbors such as the blacksmith who lends the workshop, have joined.
The idea arose after the death of Leonardo, the young son of Dávila and his partner, due to heart complications.
All this pain we transform into love, in sharing with those most in need, says the 34-year-old woman.
"El Rinconcito" has received about 70 children between the ages of 6 and 15 without sufficient resources to follow the distance classes.
Daily help comes to this corner, in the likes of Eduardo Soto, a 50-year-old English teacher, who was left unemployed by the epidemic, but who, motivated by the proposal, contributes with free classes.
The most difficult thing is the weather conditions, sometimes a lot of sun, a lot of noise, and in the case of the language it is difficult to teach it on the street, says Soto.
The neighbors of the tortillería "La abuela", on whose sidewalk the school is set up, have opened their networks so that minors can connect to the internet.
Mexico adopted the format of classes on television because its coverage is 94%, compared to 70% or 80% of the internet, according to the government, allied with four private channels and which provides free books.
Classes in the "Learn at Home" program are taught by open signal and cable services, although teachers also organize sessions by video call.
The horns and the noise of the cars break the concentration of the students, who look happy in the small space of the truck, adorned with balloons and drawings.
For Martha Hernández, a domestic worker and mother of three children, the classes have also helped her learn how to organize virtual meetings.
For them (their children) it has been very difficult, first because they did not know how to use a computer, then because they did not give us any training to use the applications. I did not even know how to insert a file, says the 39-year-old woman.
So that there is no doubt about the seriousness of the project, on the back of a poster with Leo's photo, an ad warns passersby: "We ask you for respect, you are entering a study area."