How to help Mexico rebuild schools, expand preschool education
By Julie Garsdottir, Associated Press – NEW YORK (AP) When the clock struck midnight on Sunday, the clock on the Mexican school building at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Ninth Street in New York City began ticking.
As many as 100 teachers, administrators and students packed into the cramped, bare, brick schoolhouse for what could be the last time to learn before the country’s schools reopen next year.
The last of the teachers, Ricardo Hernandez, was preparing to leave the building when the clock chimed.
The sound was deafening.
He grabbed his camera and held on to it until it went off.
He was shocked to see the clock turn on and off.
The building, with its red doors and orange windows, was the last building of its kind in Mexico City before it closed.
It’s one of three remaining schools for low-income and working-class children in the city, where many are students of color.
“I felt the pain.
It was my school,” Hernandez said.
“This is a symbol of my life.
It made me feel so sad.”
It was not the first time the building had been a victim of the economic crisis.
The country’s economy has been struggling, with unemployment hovering around 20 per cent and a severe housing crisis that has left tens of thousands homeless.
But for the last year, the building has been in the spotlight as a symbol for the thousands of families and students living in poverty and hopelessness.
For most families, the economic downturn has been a burden.
Many have had to cut back on family gatherings and activities to avoid going hungry.
And while Mexico’s economy is still growing, it is still lagging behind the U.S. economy, which has boomed in recent years.
It’s also a place where many people are now forced to live in poverty, with many of them forced to take jobs that are insecure and dangerous.
Some teachers, meanwhile, have lost their jobs because of low wages.
Others have had their homes destroyed or were evicted, with their families unable to afford the rents.
One teacher, a young woman in her 20s who declined to give her last name, said she was working a shift of eight hours a day, six days a week in the building with her husband, an unemployed man who said he couldn’t afford the rent.
“We were living on just a couple thousand pesos (about $100) a month,” the teacher said.
Her husband, she said, had already been fired and was on his way to Mexico City.
The teacher said she didn’t want to go back to work and was tired of the pressure to stay home.
She didn’t know what her children would do.
The woman, who is now pregnant, said the stress of living in the country with her children was crushing.
The New York Times, citing the Mexican government, reported that the building is the most dangerous in the Mexican capital, with one of the worst records for child abuse, violence and neglect.
The building, where more than 3,500 students and teachers were on their last days before the building’s last teacher went home, was also among the most overcrowded schools in the nation.
The teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she had not been paid, said there were at least 10 children in classrooms.
“If it’s only 10 kids, you know what I would be scared of?” she said.
The number of students in Mexico’s schools rose dramatically in the past few years, but the country has a long way to go to meet U.N. recommendations that make the country one of world’s most effective in ending child mortality and malnutrition.
The nation has one of Mexico’s highest infant and maternal mortality rates and its schools have one of highest rates of violent and serious injury to children.
While the school is closed, students and parents who had been waiting for more than a year to begin classes at the building will return to their classrooms on Monday, said Luis Arruz, the president of the National Council for Education, a federation of Mexican education institutions.
Arruz said he would meet with school officials and teachers to determine what kind of work could be done.
The students would also be given time off, he said.
He said the government had not yet determined how much of the building would be used to provide meals to students, and he was hoping to get the school’s staff back to classes on Monday.
“The first thing we have to do is provide them with food, with clothing, with medicine,” Arruaz said.
The president said the building was a symbol not only for the country, but for Mexico, a country that is struggling economically and politically, and one where the most vulnerable are being left behind.
“This building is a sign of strength,” he said in an interview.
“Our children are not the only ones in this world who are suffering.
This is a reflection of