Things That Matter

It’s Back To School Season In Mexico And Kids Are Being Asked To Turn On The TV

Thanks to the Coronavirus, many families morning routines are totally out of whack. And that’s becoming ever more apparent as back to school season ramps up and parents are having to play teacher and principal and counselor while also maintaining their work/home lives.

Mexico – which among the many countries that have cancelled in-person learning for this school year – is betting on TV and radio to deliver an education to all students. However, the burden is already being felt by parents who are turning to neighbors and abuelos for help.

Mexico has said no to in-person learning thanks to the Coronavirus but they’re trying to come up with solutions.

Mexico’s government has decided against in-person classes this year, deeming the Coronavirus too big a threat. Therefore, the country’s 30 million students will all be forced to learn remotely, usually from their own homes with family helping out as impromptu instructors.

Officials say the Coronavirus – which has killed more than 60,000 Mexicans amid the nearly 600,000 confirmed cases – is far too dangerous to allow kids back into the classroom.

One student told CNN that “It’s good we’re still having class. But I’m sad because I was going to start high school and meet new people.”

At home learning is tough even in well-developed countries. But in places like Mexico, where only 56% of households have Internet access and many students live in rural, poorly equipped Indigenous villages, it’s a monumental task. So if the law requires all Mexican kids to be offered a public education, the government has decided the best way to do that is over the airwaves, with 93% of households having a television.

In the meantime, the burden on parents, already high during any normal school year, will dramatically increase this year. If kids are going to make progress, parents in the home will be the primary driving force.

Teachers are becoming part-time actors as the government enlists there help to educate the country’s 30 million students.

Credit: Marcos Ugarte / Getty Images

Many of the country’s teachers have been called upon to join the growing ranks of online teachers. In TV studios across Mexico City, teachers are being dressed and having makeup put on for their on-camera closeups.

For many, it’s a big change. Teachers often develop close relationships with their students – they’re used to setting up their classrooms, hugging kids on their first day of school, and knowing about their interests, passions, and areas that need more focus.

Inside a brightly lit studio at Mexico City TV station Channel 11 last week, fifth grade teacher Omar Morales squinted as a young man with bright purple hair applied makeup to his face. Omar Morales told CNN, that “It’s challenging. It’s no longer 40 kids in a class where I know their names, passions, their favorite games. Here, I’m locked in a set, but I know there’s millions of kids out there who still need that knowledge.”

Morales is part of an ambitious government plan to record a comprehensive set of lessons for all grade levels pre-K through high school and then broadcast them on TV. It has worked out agreements with different TV channels to broadcast that content, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, with different grade levels at different hours.

The curriculum the government is sharing over the airwaves is meant to mirror that taught in public schools had they not been forced to close thanks to the pandemic. Music class and physical secrecies is also included in the televised offering, with gold-medal-winning diver Rommel Pacheco encouraging children to stretch.

The government has turned to TV and radio to help make sure the education gap doesn’t grow wider amid the pandemic.

Mexico already suffered from an extreme education gap – meaning that rich kids often received a far better education than poor kids, who were also often from rural or Indigenous communities. This was a major problem long before the pandemic.

For example, relatively wealthy Mexico City saw a 92% secondary, or high-school level, education enrollment rate as of 2019. In the much poorer state of Chiapas, that rate stood at only 59%.

But experts fear that the pandemic could greatly exacerbate the issue – and many acknowledge that TV and radio can’t solve underlying inequalities in the education system. You don’t need to be an education expert to conclude that wealthier students with internet access and the ability to interact with a teacher, even remotely, might fare better than those who get their classes the same way they watch cartoons.

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One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

Things That Matter

One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

QUETZALLI BLANCO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of a village in Chiapas, Mexico have become so fed up with their mayor that they decided to do something about it. Eschewing long, bureaucratic legal processes to hold him accountable, residents of a southern Chiapas town decided to hold their mayor accountable for what they said was a public works project so poorly done that it was useless.

A mayor in Chiapas was tied to a tree by his own residents for a job done badly.

Residents from eleven neighborhoods of the Chiapas town Comalapa held their mayor accountable for his inaction on a public works project. According to reports, the residents arrested Mayor Óscar Ramírez Aguilar to a tree in a public area to expose him to the rest of the town. They told the newspaper Diario de Chiapas, that they wanted to expose him for the “bad public servant” that he is and that he shouldn’t be reelected.

The townspeople say the municipal water storage cistern — whose installation they say was a campaign promise — is in such poor condition that it does not comply with water safety requirements. It currently has no water, they said, due to leaks, and the residents accuse the government of merely patching the tank — badly — to stop them.

In a video on social media, residents showed how the concrete patch job is already chipping away and easily crumbles.

“He promised us that this would be a public works project worthy of Comalapa residents, but [this tank is] a farce; the water system doesn’t work well. It’s an old problem that he should have attended to properly and should have been a priority during his administration because he came to see us in our homes with this promise, and now he doesn’t want to live up to it,” a resident told the newspaper.

But the mayor is denying what happened in a social media post.

The mayor though has a totally different version of events. After he was released, Ramírez posted a video on his official social media account to counter the residents’ version of the story.

“They did not tie me up,” he claimed. “The meeting was with 11 representatives of Comalapa neighborhoods in order to agree upon details regarding a major public project, the introduction of potable water.”

However, photographs clearly showed the mayor standing before a tree with his hands behind his back.

Three years ago, another local official suffered a similar fate after allegedly failing to deliver promised funds. He was bound to a post in the the central plaza of Comalapa.

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Jon G. Fuller / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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