“La educación es un derecho”

February 26, 2010

I took a lightning trip to New York over the weekend, and my week in the Zona Reyna already seems like it happened a lifetime ago. But I have one more story I want to share with you .

One of the women in S was never officially enrolled in the class. Registering with CONALFA requires a government issued ID and a date of birth. But this participant was born in a different community, and moved far away with her husband: she doesn’t have her cedula and she doesn’t know her date of birth. That didn’t stop her from attending every class, or from taking the final evaluation using the name of a woman who withdrew in the first month.

When we distributed the certificados, one of my coworkers  realized he had nothing to give her. He apologized, concerned that she would drop out now that she realized her accomplishment would never be legally recognized. In other communities, women were visibly distraught when they didn’t get their certificate or when they saw that their name was misspelled. (The CONALFA staff person did a really bad job filling them out.)  In one community, where participants were already angry after learning that another literacy program run by a different NGO had given all their students chickens, confusion about certificates was almost the last straw.

But this woman seemed unconcerned. “No me importa, voy a seguir estudiando.” “It doesn’t matter, I’m going to keep studying,” she said. “But you won’t be getting a certificate, you’ll have no proof you completed your education,” my coworker explained. She responded calmly, without a trace of concern. “No me importa, voy a seguir.

When education is seen as a right and not a privilege, everything changes.

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