The following is excerpted and condensed from a letter from the Education Committee of Oventic, Chiapas, to the San Diego-based solidarity group Schools for Chiapas. The letter requests international support for efforts to establish the first indigenous junior high school run by the Zapatista movement.
We know that it is through education that we will stamp out ignorance, injustice, contempt, and the many years of being ignored.
By realizing this dream, we will be taking a step towards a new educational system for a more democratic, dignified, and just Mexico. It will be an education where we are all included, with full liberty and with respect for our cultural, economic, political, and educational rights. It will start from our own perspectives, the world of all the Indian peoples of all the world.
In November 1995, those responsible for education within the Autonomous Municipalities considered establishing a new educational system for the youth, who had never had the opportunity to go out and study in other places, such as in the cities. This was because they lacked the money to pay for accommodation, food, and travel expenses and for buying books, so that they might better themselves, as the children of the rich are able to do.
We came to understand that what we need, and what we do not have, is secondary education. (The Mexican education system is divided into primary schools, secondary schools, which are equivalent to junior high schools in the United States, and preparatory schools, or high schools.) Our peoples also demanded a change in the form of education – an education which did not serve to dominate our thoughts; an education where our ideas would be those which we thought and lived; an education which suited everyone; an education in solidarity; an education which would not be classist in nature; an education obligatory at least through secondary and preparatory, or even to University.
Our objective is to change old, poorly designed educational schemes imposed by the powerful, where the education is poorly planned and designed to exploit us. The official secondary schools of the bad government are racist, sexist, commercial, reactionary, and idealistic.
We believe there should be bilingual teachers in this new school, because they understand and realize the importance of respecting our languages and traditions. This education should serve to develop our best qualities, where the new person will be created. It is only in that way that we will foster the new society in Mexico.
We call on all international progressive organizations from the various countries of the world. Be in solidarity with the education of your brothers and sisters, who are the indigenous, the most forgotten in the Mexican nation. With your support we shall build a school that is activist, emancipating, liberating, for all, and in solidarity, without distinction as to class. An education where we walk together. An education that turns the night into morning.