Legal Certainty of Land Affects Ejido Schools
By Jesús Aguado
In San Miguel where legal certainty does not exist for land at Ejido de Tirado (common land), there is a neighborhood called Magisterio (Faculty). A kindergarten exists in this area, with 50 students who attend school daily despite the lack of potable water, electricity, drainage, and classrooms. They attend school to learn, ignoring that the area where two mobile classrooms are located does not have legal certainty.
Ejido de Tirado, which shelters 10 colonias, lacks basic services in some of the neighborhoods, including the school location because the plots have been sold three or four times in some cases, and people cannot have their deeds until the neighborhood is regularized. This is just one of several places in the city that lack infrastructure for education, including the community of Bocas as well as the CECYTEG (preparatory school) in Los Rodríguez.
Atención visited the Magisterio community exactly a year ago, and that is when we finally learned the reasons why there was no proper school. The Director of Education and Culture of the local administration then, Acacio Martínez, said the people of that community would have the legal certainty for their school (a deed) “in the months to come.” However, the administration came to its end, and nothing was solved. Martínez also commented that the education delegate of Region 1, Román Cifuentes, had commented that even if the school had the deed, classrooms would not be constructed until 2016. That year is here now, and the Secretariat of Public Education for Region 1 states that no classrooms will be constructed until there is legal certainty of the land’s ownership.
In a recent visit, Atención staff found the kindergarten with the same problems as last year, and now the mobile classrooms are literally in motion from the wind. The new teacher, Fernanda Zolozabal Téllez, commented, “We do not have classrooms, and the mobile classrooms shake with the strong winds. We are afraid an accident will occur.” She said that when she arrived last year in September, it was impossible to get potable water from the municipality, but finally they had an agreement with the Head of the Public Services department to deliver potable water every two weeks.
During the winter, the classrooms are very cold, said Zolozabal. Many children stopped attending in December because they were sick. During the summer the spaces are very hot, and the students have no recreational area. The floor has neither concrete nor grass, and it is simply impossible to hold activities outside during the rainy season because of the mud.
“We need accurate information from the authorities. We need them to come here to let us know what the real legal situation is concerning this land so we can start the construction of the infrastructure. We have received support from nonprofit organizations that have tried to get materials for construction, but the Region 1 people tell us that we can’t accept anything or construct anything because the land is not ours. We just have the possession of it,” she finished.
Jessica Luna, a member of the parents’ committee, has been involved in this school since the beginning. She told Atención, “We are tired because all the offices give us different answers and, to be honest, we are just as we started. Several school years have gone by and nobody pays attention to us.” She commented that the bathrooms were constructed by the parents, and the material was donated by expats.
Enedina Arellano, the mother of a student, commented that they have visited all the governmental offices related to education, and in Region 1 people actually assured that they did not even know that this school existed. “People in some places offer material for construction, but in others, they basically take it away from us because we cannot construct.” Arellano said that Mayor Villarreal offered material for building the classrooms, and the parents will work on them, but Region 1 prevented the delivery.
The School Is Registered in the Guanajuato Secretariat of Education
The colonia Magisterio kindergarten was established in 2012 on that irregular land, and it has been recognized by the State Education Secretariat (SEG) with the registration number 11DJN4616I, part of the alternative education zone 204. This type of program is offered to zones with a low number of students. Undergraduates are hired or receive scholarships in exchange for doing social service in those “schools.” Residents of that area, who have to walk at least two or three kilometers to take their children to the nearest school, requested this type of school. The parents were paying rent on a house in the same neighborhood, but when the owner wanted the house back, there was no other place to educate the children. Later, the residents asked the local administration for help, and they received the irregular plot in an irregular land where the SEG later placed two “traveling classrooms” that are nothing more than trailers fitted as classrooms. For all this time, the school has been a victim of crime. Even the water containers were stolen, and they had no water there, not even for washing the children’s hands.
Regardless of having an irregular school with trailers as classrooms, the children’s parents are happy with the kindergarten even when their children are sweating during this time of year because of the hot weather and the makeup of the trailers, according to the principal in 2015, Fernanda Hernández. Sometimes, she said, the students have to go under the trailers to find a little bit of shade and cover themselves from the sun.
After the statements from a year ago, Education Region 1, based in Dolores Hidalgo, has informed Atención that until now they have been unable to request the construction of the school building due to the lack of the legal documents because the land situation remains irregular. The Region spokesman also stated that the 2012–2015 administration assured them that the legalization was in process. So far the SEG does not have the documents, so nothing can be constructed.
Deeds Within Three to Six Months
Teacher Verónica Rodríguez, Director of Education and Infrastructure of the local administration, said that no programs can be offered to the school because of the issues mentioned. Rodriguez remarked that this year on April 12, she had a meeting with the representatives of CORET (Commission for the Land Legalization), and they informed her that the area where the school is located is now under review, and within the next three to six months, the local administration will receive legal certainty of the plot. According to Rodríguez, after that, the city council must immediately donate the land, along with the documents, to SEG so they can start construction with the help of the INIFEG (Guanajuato Institute of Physical Infrastructure).
The director also commented that the Civil Protection Department helped to conduct an inspection to determine if an accident could occur from the wind shaking the trailers used as classrooms. She assured that there is no danger.
During the 2009–2012 administration, nonprofit organizations donated the boxcar of an 18-wheeler to the local government. It was later set up as a traveling museum featuring replicas of artifacts from Cañada de la Virgen. During the 2012–2015 administration, the boxcar made its final stop in the community of Bocas, where the INIFEG had constructed a classroom. One more classroom was needed, and that boxcar was put to use. The INIFEG also constructed bathrooms there, as well as water dispensers with filters, and the electricity issue was solved with solar cells.
At the community of Los Rodríguez, there is a CECYTEG (preparatory school) on paper but not physically. Some students take their lessons in classrooms in the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe; others take classes in a garage, and the rest, in two mobile classrooms. This Friday, April 22, assured Verónica Rodríguez, the local government will start recovering the building meant to be for the CECYTEG with an investment of 10 million pesos for the construction of classrooms, bathrooms, a laboratory, a soccer camp, and administrative offices.