Mexican education unionists are launching a campaign so that teachers reconnect with students who dropped out of school during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign also aims to help prevent students from leaving school because of the public health crisis.
The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) in Mexico is spearheading a campaign to ensure that students “continue their studies” once the 2020-2021 school year begins on 24 August. Alfonso Cepeda Salas, the union’s General Secretary, told a virtual meeting of the national executive bodies in early August, that the campaign also aims “for teachers to establish communication with those students with whom they have lost contact”.
Urging teachers to use all the means at their disposal and their creativity to maintain contact with their students, the union wants teachers to help students to overcome the academic and emotional setbacks caused by the isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bridging the digital divide for quality education for all
Cepeda Salas also insisted on the need to close the digital divide in the country and promote the use of new technologies. However, he acknowledged that the task will be easier for teachers in urban areas where both educators and students have a telephone and electronic means to communicate.
SNTE is promoting an international declaration stating that digital connectivity is considered a human right. The union leader said that SNTE had urged the Federal and State governments to ensure the resumption of the 2009 programme on educational technologies.
Funding is still available for this programme – “resources that the federation and each state contributed to”, Cepeda Salas said. He explained that SNTE contributed 60 cents for each peso contributed by the Mexican federal state. “What we are demanding is an additional effort from the state governments, that they can resume the programme and that the greatest number of teachers can be provided, as promised, with a computer and connectivity equipment,” he said.
Survey of teachers
The SNTE leader highlighted the considerable progress made in processing the data of a survey among education workers throughout the country. The survey aimed to get clarity on their conditions and needs that must be met before the eventual return to the classroom. This information, which will be delivered to the educational authority, will be ready at the beginning of the next school year.
At the meeting, the heads of the national union executive bodies also reported on progress made concerning the union and the education and social security agenda for the last three months.
“With or without a pandemic, union activity is permanent and unfinished work,” Cepeda Salas concluded.