The project continues to work toward its target of maximum enrolment of school age children and higher completion rates of primary and secondary level schooling. Through these strategies:
Consultation for birth certificates procedures
a) An annual campaign for the right to an official identity, running from January to May.
The goal is to educate families about the importance of birth registration as a means to fulfill the right to an identity for their children.
b) Briefings with families to explain the requirements of the procedure.
c) Collect and check documents and take them to the civil registration. Melel provides this essential service since many indigenous parents do not speak Spanish
d) Delivery of birth certificates to Melel ´s office.
Increasing awareness about the importance of formal education
a) Educational work with mothers and fathers:
We are having meetings with parents whose children do not attend school to talk about the importance of education for children.
b) Community Work:
We are implementing an awareness campaign about the right to education for children. We are designing and printing materials for the campaign in Spanish and Tzotzil Mayan to share in public spaces. We are also producing radio-spots in Spanish and Tzotzil to broadcast on local radios stations.
Educational work with children and adolescents
a) Through educational activities called “learning circles”, educational resources are offered to children to help them develop social skills to strengthen school attendance. Using different methodologies, children learn about their rights to identity and education. We are also helping them to improve their reading and mathematical skills and technological literacy.
Activities are conducted twice a week (morning and evening) in the spaces where children work.
b) Social circus workshop. The practice and performance of circus skills can help generate new non-violent practices of social relations centered on a culture of good treatment and gender-equality.
33 children and adolescents are benefit by the scholarships program
The year is coming to a close and we want to share with all our GlobalGiving donors a summary of the year´s achievements.
We have helped obtain over 90 birth certificates for working children.
We have given over 200 educational sessions in areas where children work and at Melel.
We have completed an investigation into the number of working children in San Cristóbal de las Casas and the type of work that they do.
We have given weekly ´social circus´ workshops.
We gave the sixth Gathering for Working Children, where the children had the opportunity to talk about the things that matter to them.
We have given two press conferences; one to discuss the right to education and the other to discuss violence against women. Both conferences were led by children.
We gave a summer theatre workshop for working children where the theme ‘a life free from violence’.
31 children have received scholarships to enable them to attend school.
In total, over 300 working children and adolescents have benefitted from our programs. Thanks to the generosity of our GlobalGiving donors these children are able to continue having access to the education and services to which they have the right.
Thank you GlobalGiving!
On june 7th, Melel Xojobal together with working children and adolescents, held a press conference. The subject was "for our right to a quality education"
Over 60 people attend including media and education autorithies. The working children and adolescents share their worries about the difficulties of the educational system in Chiapas, specially for people with low income.
Some of the statements were:
"No every children attend to school, no everyone can afford it or there is children without birth certificate"
"In some schools, there is not water in the toilets and they don´t provide security, anyone can access and some times drunk men enter into the schools"
"The teachers do not respect our culture, there are currently no bilingual teachers (tsotsil)"
The government continues to violate the right to education of the most vulnerable children. The first cause of dropout school, is because the families don´t have money to pay transport, books, uniforms and material. The free school system is "not free" after all, some quotas are charge to the families and some school teachers even charge money for material and tests. And the school conditions in some cases are awful, without toilets or roof.
The interesting thing about this activity was that the media among other people had the opportunity to listen to the children speaking about their rights; very often we think that children do not have the ability to decide on their lives and their rights; but Melel´s approach is different, we know they can make desicions for themselves and be protagonits of their lifes.
In May we had the sixth annual event of girls, boys and young workers. This event last 4 hours, where the children and the teenagers were able to share experiences, life stories and talked about their rights.
30 children and teenagers, assist to the event, and 100% were in school and planning to continue with their education. Which means that Melel´s goal has been accomplished, at least for those 30 children and teenagers.
During the event, we gave them a t-shirt, lunch and we play lots of educational games. You could see the youngest ones speaking about their rights at the podium with the microphone, it was really emotive.
The importance of this event, was to create a safe space where the children and the teenagers can share similar experiences, thoughts, problems and understand that they are not alone. Is also a moment to think about the possible solutions of what they are facing and ensure a strong social network to make them feel empowered.
We are vey grateful about all your generous donations y we want to thank global giving for giving us the opportunity of raising money, that help us increase our educational activities, benefiting more children every day.
In February we launched a campaign to encourage families to obtain birth certificates for their children, as well as continuing the other activities of the project.
Obtaining a birth certificate and a registered legal identity is an essential prerequisite for enrolling children in school, and for them to qualify for government health programs. Despite this, lack of registration remains a major barrier which contributes to thousands of children in our city not attending school.
According to government statistics for 2010, nearly half of all children in Chiapas under the age of one had not yet obtained a birth certificate. There is no equivalent figure for the indigenous Mayan population (around a third of all people in Chiapas), but it is certainly much lower, as they constitute the poorest and most marginalized section of society.
Our campaign includes putting up posters, handing out leaflets and explaining to people how to register their children. So far, we have put up 72 posters in public places, mostly in markets, which are visited by thousands of people every day and are central in the lives of both the indigenous and mestizo population. So far we have handed out 90 leaflets in the Mayan Tsotsil language and 92 in Spanish, explaining to the recipients how they can register their children.
In addition, we have prepared radio announcements for the campaign (also in Spanish and Tsotsil) which are currently being broadcast on six community radio stations and also in the radio stations of the Merposur and Tielmans markets.
We expect this work to substantially increase registrations this year.
Following pressure from child rights organizations including Melel Xojobal, the government is slowly moving to address this issue. During the month of April families can now obtain the document free of charge. The state government has also commissioned a review to see how the registration process can be made easier and less bureaucratic.We are also working with the Civil Registry office to encourage them to create out-reach teams to continue the activities we are currently running.
There is a long way to go however. We still encounter stories of families turning up at government offices to be told they have run out of forms, or that the relevant staff are not present. Discriminatory attitudes against indigenous people also remain a problem. During April we will be paying close attention to identify these kinds of problems in order to press the government to do more.
Once again, a big thank you to all our GlobalGiving donors for your support for this work, which is tremendously important to get children into school and help families protect their rights.
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San Cristobal de Las Casas,
San Cristobal de Las Casas,