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Local Government Hopes to Legalize Land for Makeshift Ejido de Tirado School

El kínder irregular y sin nombre

Los niños inocentes juegan, sin pensar en su realidad

By Jesús Aguado

Ejido de Tirado is one of those places in the San Miguel de Allende municipality where the land is “irregular”—meaning that the status of its ownership is in question.

Thanks to that uncertainty, a kindergarten school sitting in the Ejido de Tirado neighborhood of Magisterio has lacked electricity, potable water, sewers—even permanent classrooms—for the last seven years, all because it lacks a legal deed to the land it sits on.

Three local administrations have tried to get the state government to legalize the school’s land without success. But on April 29, the city council approved and sent a document to the state government, requesting the legalization of the land so that proper facilities can be built.

However, even if the state government approves the request, creating a proper school for Magisterio kindergarteners will still take time.

The kindergarten is a microcosm of the problems that can come with ejidos—communal tracts of land established by the Mexican government in the early twentieth century as common pastures or agricultural lands in rural communities—and the corruption associated with them.

At least 10 neighborhoods exist in Ejido de Tirado. In parts of these neighborhoods, much like the kindergarten, there are no basic services. This is due to corrupt practices in which the land in these areas were sold up to three times to different owners.

Complicating matters further is the fact that ejidatarios are not legal owners of their land parcels—they merely own the right to cultivate them.

This morass of ownership in Ejido de Tirado makes it extremely difficult to legalize the land and thus make it eligible for government-run services like electricity, water, and sewer connections.

Ironically, the little “school” is registered with the Secretaría de Educación de Guanajuato (Secretariat of Public Education), known as the SEG, as an alternative school, meant to provide education to places with low population. Under the alternative school model, the secretariat hires university students to teach there for a year in exchange for scholarships to continue their studies.

The kindergarten—which after seven years still has no name—was started in 2012 by parents who rented private homes. These days, it is in on land with no certain legal status, donated by the government. Students are using portable classrooms, since permanent facilities cannot legally be built.

Atención has visited the school several times, and the teachers there told us that the parents in that area did not want to walk two to three kilometers to take their children to school and so they rented a house and petitioned the SEG for a teacher.

When the house owner requested his property back, the local government donated a piece of land with no legal certainty to relocate the school. This has brought both a solution and new sets of problems. Since no deed to the land parcel exists, the SEG cannot build a proper school there, and so students sit in portable classrooms the SEG provided. Also, the area has problems with crime—which once left students with no bins for the water brought in regularly, as the school lacks water connections.

In some of our visits, teachers told us that the classrooms are very cold during the winter and very hot during the summer. In addition the wind moves the classrooms. There is no playground area, nor even shady areas for students during recess. Bathrooms were only constructed in 2015.

 

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