8/15/2017 The Guardian
Education was meant to be president Enrique Peña Nieto’s flagship policy. Yet salaries are still being paid to ‘ghost teachers’ who never enter a classroom, while children lack the tools – and even the food – they need to learn.
It’s almost four in the afternoon, and a quarter of the fifth-grade pupils at Ángel Albino Corzo primary school in Buena Vista haven’t eaten all day. The children are fidgety and distracted as their teacher explains decimals on the white board.
They are counting down the minutes until break time, when they will be given a small portion of beans with tortillas – for some, the only meal they will eat today (Mexico’s schooling is split into two distinct shifts; these children study from 1.30-6pm).
“How can they learn if they’ve not eaten and we haven’t got the right tools?” their teacher, Juan Carlos, asks later. He would like to use interactive online worksheets, but the computer lab is closed and there’s no internet. “There’s only so much we can do.”
Buena Vista is a bleak hillside community constructed on industrial wasteland in the sprawling State of Mexico, which wraps around the capital, Mexico City. Crime rates are so high here that in winter months, the school closes early as many children walk home alone. Police do not patrol the neighbourhood.