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Mexican Parents value Education

By Jaci Winters

In her book “ Empowering Spanish Speakers” Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie says “All of the Mexican parents I interviewed, including the over one-third of them who were unable to read, had a high regard for education”. Parents devote a lot of time, energy and money to make it possible for their children to attend school.(page 169) Perhaps this is the reason the free Educational Programs at the Biblioteca are so popular. In conversations Mexican adults told me they remember with great fondness their time as children spent reading books or attending classes at the Biblioteca.
Education classes are one of the outreach activities provided by the Biblioteca for young Mexicans living in San Miguel and the surrounding area. Everyday in the morning, after school and on Saturdays there are classes in computers, reading, crafts, English, mathematics, choir, guitar, piano, science, art, mosaics and indigenous instruments. Most of these activities are not available as part of the regular school curriculum but they allow kids to be creative, experiment and problem solve in a different and supportive environment. When you visit the classes you see young people involved and enjoying these special experiences and growing as individuals in new ways.
Mexican parents often accompany their children to classes and wait for them in the courtyard, an indication that they see value in their children participating and learning through their participation in the education classes. Very young children have their own Sala Infantil which is filled with suitable books for their age and crayons etc.. There are small tables and chairs to sit on, in a bright colourful room. Mothers can sit and read books with their kids too. The Sala Junvenil is set up for reading, lectures, crafts and research. There are books in Spanish and English and also references books to help with schoolwork. Reading and literacy skills are essential for all children but books are very expensive for the average family, as are the materials that the Biblioteca provides for each of its classes. The computer room is equipped with 12 computers and is supervised by a teacher who also teaches kids how to use them, preparing them to become global citizens and expand their horizons.
Teachers are full-time or part time staff and volunteers. Staff are Spanish speakers because they need to interact with the young people in their own language. Volunteers may be proficient in Spanish but not necessarily. The volunteers provide 2-4 hours per week of their time and teach English, Mathematics, Mosaics, Science and other crafts. Many volunteers also donate materials for their classes. The painting, computer, music, reading and traditional crafts are taught by the paid Mexican staff.
The Biblioteca Education Program provides the San Miguel community with additional resources to help educate Mexican youth. Presently less than 60% of Mexicans enrol in middle school. (page 163) It is our hope that we can help change that statistic and the future for young Mexicans. Your donations to the Biblioteca for this program do make a difference.

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