Supporting education and fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Mexico, one coloring book at a time

Date 31.05.2021

For more than a year Mikeyla, who is seven years old, along with her brothers Bryan, 13, and Rogelio, 5, has not been attending classes.

On March 23, 2020, the Mexican government ordered the suspension of on-site classes due to the worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19. A few months later, in August 2020, classes were resumed, but only in virtual and televised mode.

However, in the fishing community of Manatinero (Tabasco), where Mikeyla and her family live, there is no internet service and most of the residents do not have a television.

Mikeyla's family, like 90% of the population of Manatinero, lives from fishing and shucking oysters, an activity that takes them more than 10 hours of work to earn approximately 180 pesos (about 7.2 euros) a day as a result.

Like Mikeyla and her siblings, about 1,494 children from the thirteen elementary schools that are located in the school zone 46, in the municipality of Cardenas (Tabasco), are more than a year behind in their studies. This situation could prevent them from continuing their education and having more opportunities in the future, thus leading up to inevitable long working days of oyster harvesting.

To address this situation, AVSI, with funding from ENI Mexico, is carrying out the PROEDU project since January 2021. Its aim is to improve access to and permanence in school for those children, who are currently attending elementary school in this area. In addition, it will thus target also the kids' learning performance in order to have a positive impact on that, as well.

By conducting workshops, promoting child participation, improving school nutrition, training teachers, administrative and management personnel, AVSI seeks to make education a tool for change, both on a professional level and for the whole community of Tabasco.

Perifoneos and mask distribution campaigns to prevent the spread of COVID-19

As a first action, AVSI conducted a campaign to raise awareness about the spreading of COVID-19 and its means of prevention by using perifoneos, i.e., by blasting out the messages from car speakers, in the communities of Sanchez Magallanes, Pailebot, Ejido Sinaloa, El Alacrán and Manatinero.

As part of the campaign, more than 1,000 masks and 900 leaflets were handed out to the adult population, while more than 800 booklets and coloring books were given to children, so that they could learn about COVID-19 and how to avoid contagion in a playful, yet incisive way.

The main goal of this first phase is to get closer to the community and inform them about the methods to prevent the spreading of the virus, so that in the second one it is possible to start extracurricular classes for children, partially in attendance. According to Federica Dalla Pria, PROEDU project coordinator, this is something that they are already urgently requesting. At the moment, social workers are assessing the families' economic and educational situation, and meetings are being held with the directors and teachers of the schools involved in order to plan together the best way to support the children academically.