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Mexico: Union targets school dropouts during pandemic

The National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) in Mexico celebrated World Teachers' Day with the delivery of televisions, smartphones, electronic tablets and computer equipment to teachers and students. The aim is to avoid school dropouts during the pandemic by facilitating online teaching and learning.

The delivery of the first 4,500 devices on 5 October was carried out simultaneously throughout the country. It was led by the Secretary General of the SNTE, Alfonso Cepeda Salas, at the “Niños Héroes” Primary School in Cuajimalpa City Hall. The SNTE itself contributed around 1,500 screens.
 
Stay at Home, Stay in Class
 
The devices were collected during the second stage of the union’s innovative Stay at Home, Stay in Class campaign, designed to facilitate learning at home during the pandemic.
 
The SNTE has reiterated its call to education workers, businesspeople, and society in general to continue donating devices for use in education. These will help to maintain the Learn at Home II Programme, which is vital as many students in marginalised areas do not have the means to continue with their classes. 
 
Another delivery is scheduled in the next few weeks “to bring this support to remote communities, to poor families, to families in need.” This will ensure that classes are not interrupted and that the Stay Home, Stay in Class Programme continues.” 
 
SNTE support
 
Since face-to-face classes were suspended on 20 March, the SNTE has encouraged and supported teachers to maintain communication, by the means available to them, with parents and students. This was to ensure that students assimilated the knowledge and, despite the difficulties, remain in class, Cepeda Salas said. 
 
On World Teachers' Day, Cepeda Salas highlighted that “we honour male and female teachers for who they are, for what they do daily so that each of their students build their future. What better tribute than protecting the right to public education, one of our two founding causes.”
 
Student feedback 
 
On behalf of students who received devices, Francisco Hernández Gómez, a sixth-year student, thanked SNTE and its leaders for undertaking this campaign. The new devices will allow students like him to continue with their studies, he said.
 
“It is a special day for my family, we are going to benefit because we don't have a television at home and [now] I will be able to watch my classes,” Hernández Gómez said. “I promise to keep studying and get good grades. I really enjoy coming to school and I really like studying. I also feel sad about the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully it will pass soon.” 
 
Education International global event
 
On 5 October, the SNTE also participated in Education International’s online global event to celebrate the achievements of teachers on World Teachers' Day. The SNTE exhibited videos that showed its actions taken to support teachers, students, and parents in distance teaching and learning while schools remained closed to avoid contagion. 
 
SNTE leaders from across Mexico, led by Cepeda Salas, also held a working meeting to evaluate recent progress in labour, benefits, and social security. They also addressed the requirements of union members in the face of the “new normal” being experienced during the pandemic.