Institute of Public Education of Oaxaca (IEEPO)

The Institute of Public Education of Oaxaca (IEEPO) serves as the center of education located in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. It has currently been in the news as a result of the ongoing teachers’ strike and the growing disdain for the changes brought on by education reform laws proposed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. This reform, in reality, is targeting the teachers’ union, or the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) in an attempt to dissolve the union. The conflict lies specifically between the Mexican government and the dissident Section 22 of CNTE.

Oaxaca consists of a largely rural population, and public school teachers work diligently to target the various needs and demands of their students despite multiple significant barriers. The mountains of Oaxaca, while contributing to a plethora of cultural and linguistic diversity, also serve as a physical barrier in that the spread of knowledge is limited because of the mountainous terrain. Travel is extremely difficult, and the system in place within Oaxaca requires novice teachers to travel to remote locations by themselves, miles away from their homes. Oaxaca possesses a large indigenous population, with almost forty percent of the population considered indigenous. The Mexican state of Oaxaca has the worst literacy rate in Mexico, with just 93.5 percent of the adult population considered literate. The population is just under 121,000 people as of 2012 and is plagued with isolation. .7 percent of the population are considered to be below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. Issues with literacy and poverty contribute to a variety of societal problems that impact education such as domestic violence against women and children. Teachers feel that the odds are stacked up against them.

Article III of the Constitution of Mexico requires that all children within Mexico have access to free public education. Despite this, the rural education system in Oaxaca has been plagued by inconsistencies and broken promises that have now transformed into a sometimes violent struggle between teachers and state officials. The teachers are fighting an unjust system in an effort to advocate for themselves and their students. IEEPO has contributed to this conflict, as they have not only ignored the needs of teachers and students, but they have also worked with the Mexican government to put people in positions of power that are corrupt and unwilling to compromise. Teachers feel that they must tread carefully as they are relentlessly evaluated and tested at multiple times of the year instead of given the support they need to target the needs of their students. This is in comparison to education agencies in the United States such as the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which typically evaluates teachers just two to three times during school year and requires testing just once in a teacher’s career, depending on the situation. In an interview with a former school teacher in Oaxaca named Juana Sánchez Jiménez, she shared that students in Oaxaca are subject to terrible conditions within the schools, as the classrooms lack the necessities such as proper ventilation, enough desks, bookshelves and textbooks, school supplies, restrooms, and even running water. It is no wonder that the teachers want change.

The teachers’ crisis in Oaxaca is not a conflict merely destined to disappear. It has been a decades-long struggle that has now transformed into a social revolution. How the Mexican government responds to this struggle is pivotal in determining their reputation both domestically and internationally. True reform, starting with IEEPO, is a good start.

Images

Traffic Blockade in Oaxaca

Traffic Blockade in Oaxaca

This image was an image that I took while sitting in traffic as a result of the teachers™ blockade. Teachers have utilized multiple methods in an effort to have their voice heard that have fallen on deaf ears. As a result of this, they have decided the best use of protest would be demonstrated through a blockade. The blockade has kept traffic at a standstill, and Oaxaca is losing precious resources as a result. Particularly, Oaxaca is in a gasoline shortage. Fortunately, there are other ways to get around the highways. However, these detours take significantly longer. | Creator: Amy Townley View File Details Page

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has spearheaded the Mexican education reform that has sparked outrage among teachers. Teachers argue that is weakens the union, thus potentially resulting in widespread layoffs in a system where teachers are already weary as a result of the lack of job security. The Mexican government has targeted multiple entities including the oil industry and cellular telephones in an effort to privatize them. Some believe this is another effort to privatize education. Despite this, President Pena Nieto argues that it is for the betterment of education and ultimately the students. | Creator: Amy Townley View File Details Page

Graffiti in Oaxaca

Graffiti in Oaxaca

This image from Shane Dillingham is one of many images on social media of street graffiti in Oaxaca that is based on the current teachers™ crisis. The reference to 2006 comes from the strike that erupted with little consequence or reform. Ten years later in 2016, the strike has erupted into crisis that has at times become violent. The media has portrayed the violence as coming from the teachers, when in reality the teachers are being portrayed as scapegoats. The teachers merely want a true sense of job security and better working conditions for themselves and for the students that they teach. | Creator: Amy Townley View File Details Page

IEEPO Building

IEEPO Building

This is an image of the IEEPO building from a news article from Oaxaca. The article from June 11, 2016 describes an alleged raid by Section 22 of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE). It goes on to say that teachers have conducted sit-ins in addition to violence in an effort to protest the Mexican education reform law. The building serves as the center of the crisis in Oaxaca, as it is the state public education building. It is important to note that this article comes from the Oaxaca Capital and could serve as an example of the media bias that is portraying the teachers as criminals. | Creator: Amy Townley View File Details Page

Protest in the Zocalo

Protest in the Zocalo

This is an image that I took while in the zocalo, or main square, of Oaxaca. Dozens, if not hundreds, of teachers have set up tents in an effort to protest the Mexican education reform law. While walking through the zocalo, I observed no violence. Instead, it was peaceful as teachers gathered with one another in the rain. Not pictured were the multiple vendors that had also taken over the square. This is interesting because the Mexican government is more concerned with ignoring the teachers™ requests than they are concerned with the businesses that surround the zocalo that are ultimately losing business as a result of the overcrowding in the square. | Creator: Amy Townley View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Amy Townley, “Institute of Public Education of Oaxaca (IEEPO),” HistoricalMX, accessed May 27, 2018, http://historicalmx.org/items/show/24.

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