Schools in Puebla, Mexico

This photo blog records a visit to the state of Puebla, Mexico that I made with a team of experts from the OECD in September to look at how education works in the state. Below are two of the schools we visited in the municipality of Zacatlan.

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Escuela Primaria Bilingue Emperador Cuauhtemoc, Puebla.

Zacatlan (the ‘A’ on the map) is a municipality of the state of Puebla

Escuela Primaria Bilingue Emperador Cuauhtemoc

The first school is a primary school…

This primary school is in the municipality of Zacatlan in the State of Puebla. The school is in a remote part of this region and the main economic production of the community is agriculture.

Most of these schools were built following a prescribed model and classroom blocks can be added as the school population changes.

Nestled in the lush green hillsides of this remote community, this school serves the children of a mainly agricultural population.

The region is about 2000m above sea level (roughly 7000ft). The sun is strong although temperatures on average can be around 26 degrees C. While the school does have areas for external play, when the sun is out most students look for shaded areas while outside.

Notice how the children are keeping to the shade provided by the balcony above.

Meeting with the parents of students at the school. The parents have high hopes for their children, and see school as a very important asset. As with many schools in Mexico, the parents support the school in a variety of ways including paying a voluntary contribution for its upkeep as well as carrying out some of he maintenance tasks themselves.

The classrooms are fairly simple in design, essentially a square box. The furniture often comprises chairs with writing tablets, and a few desks.

This is a common game in school playgrounds in Mexico.

This covered ball court is an important asset, partly because it provides a much needed external shaded area where the kids could play, although curiously separated from the school by locked gates.

School buildings are often decaying and in much need of repair, but there is little direct funding for this either from the state or the federal government as budgets are very tight.

Telesecundria Jose Montesinos

Next door to this primary school is what is known as a ‘Telesecundria’. A lower secondary school which uses primarily television as the medium for education.

Telesecundria’s tend to be found in the remoter parts of the country and are lower secondary level – that is for 13-15 year olds. They are called ‘telesecundria’ because the main medium for teaching is television, although they are using the internet as money allows.

Many of these school buildings were constructed from standard building ‘patterns’ with classroom blocks consisting of one or more classrooms. The corridors are outside the blocks. Often concerns for security and theft lead to grilles being places over windows.

While these schools are adopting computing technology, rarely is there one computer for each child. The common furniture is chairs with a writing tablet.

Very often make-shift blinds are used to shield the room from bright sunlight but they can be left in place all day. A ‘Telesecundria’ uses television as one of the medium for teaching (top right). In this classroom they hope to install a data projector (fixing on the ceiling in the centre of the photo), but it hasn’t arrived yet. Notice the umbrella on the side of the bookcase at the back of the room (top left) it rains here quite often.

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