On 1st and 2nd July we visited San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas to present the project to CONAFE authorities and decide which particular schools will take part in this project. We also visited the two communities, the one called Tilin and Nectactic, localized in the Chamula municipality of Chiapas state. We had the opportunity to talk about the project with the members of the Parents Committee of the schools. They were very interested and assure us ample support for the project. Some of the little ones at both schools also showed great interest when they had the small Classmate laptops in their hands. We agreed with CONAFE authorities the dates for instructors training - that will be on August before classes start.
CONAFE structure is very hierarchycal. Form the National CONAFE program, depend several State Delegations and then Zone Coordinations. We had already presented the project to National CONAFE at Mexico CIty. Tilin and Nectactic correspond to the Los Altos Zone. At the offices of the Zone Coordination, there is the Academic Department and the Administrative Department. From the Academic Department depend Academic Advisors who supervise the Training Tutors and these in turn coordinate Community Instructors.
Usually, instructors are young indigenous persons that have finished basic education and agree with CONAFE to teach the kids during two years in exchange for a scholarship to continue their higher education. From this perspective, they do not have a formal teacher training; however they receive constant training from their tutors.
Each community is rather small; each includes about 10-20 families, so each school classroom serves about 15 to 20 kids of different ages. This allows an active learning methodology; however it is necessary to remember that these indigenous communities do not always have full command of the Spanish Language, so instructors are generally bilingual. In this bilingual environment, with children of several ages, we believe that Constructionism and Participative Learning and the use of the small laptops can result in a very engaging and successful experience.