Taking the Most Important Step
Mexico, as we all know, continues to have one of the lowest literacy and school enrollment rates in the world for persons over the age of 15. “Students in Mexico tend to leave education early……only 53% of 15-19-year olds are enrolled in school.” See: Report.
To deal with this serious problem, the Mexican Board of Public Education (SEP) has two programs which aim to help anyone who dropped out of school continue and finish their elementary, middle school and high school education. The first program is called INEA, National Institute for the Education of Adults. This program helps anyone, 15 years old or older, take courses to get a federally-recognized diploma certifying they have completed their primary or middle school education. The second program is called Prepa en Linea (High school Online) and helps people get a high school diploma.
“The first step is the most important. It is the most crucial and the most effective as it will initiate the direction you have chosen.”
We have a partnership with SEP and offer these two programs here at the VKEP. We currently have 21 students enrolled. In the INEA program (for elementary and middle school) we have 11 students, two of them are teenagers, the rest are adults from the area. These students come in twice a week, or whenever they need help, to study their workbooks at their own pace and prepare for their exams. Once they pass a certain number of exams, they receive their diploma. Olga, our do-it-all administrator, coordinates with SEP to ensure all exams are received and graded and answers any questions the students may have.
In the Prepa en Linea Course, we have 10 adults enrolled. The benefit of having this high school program here is that adults will save a lot of money when taking their courses. Usually, anyone who wants to enroll in this high school program has to pay for their textbooks (over 20 of them at a cost of $160-180 pesos per textbook) and their exams (at a cost of $120 pesos per exam). The cost has been a big reason why many teenagers or adults cannot take these classes. Here with us, these students have access to computers and internet to do their courses online for free.
All ten students in the online program are currently enrolled in our morning computer classes to familiarize themselves with computers (none have computers at home). Nine of these students are mothers with kids in our project. One is a father from the community.
It has been inspiring to see the interest and dedication these adults have shown in these two programs. We can see how much it means to them to get these diplomas. For some, it means better opportunities around town. Most jobs require at least a middle school and/or high school diploma. But there are some students who not only see the opportunities that will open up for them. These students want the dignity that comes from knowing you finished something. When some of them tell you they have not finished primary, or middle school, there is shame in their voice and expression. They want to finish for dignity’s sake. All of these students realize that taking advantage of these programs is the first and most important step for their future selves. Through these programs we are continuing our philosophy of: Go to School. Stay in School. Dream Big.