In the Classroom: A Passion for Democracy!

Rolanda García Hernandez is among the many in Santa María Tzejá who embraced the goal of liberating education, that students are prepared with a vision and determination to work for an oppression-free, democratic world.
Rolanda as a middle school studentAs the oldest of twelve children, Rolanda served as a second mother for her siblings, so she was busy and preoccupied during her primary school years.  But she was smart enough to keep up, even so.  All of her household tasks left her with little time to socialize with other students, so she was shy and insecure about her ability to continue in middle school as she finished the sixth grade.  But, fighting her fear and trembling, she went.  Her native intelligence and an emerging determination to succeed took hold as she found she could do it.  When she was ready to graduate in 1998 she shared the excitement with other middle school graduates about going on to high school  That meant going off to boarding school on a scholarship, because there was no high school in SMT.  At left, Rolanda in middle school.

In high school she hit her stride and found herself well-prepared in comparison with other students.  But what had made that possible?  Her teachers in the village served as facilitators with the task of inspiring students to learn in ways that drew on their curiosity and natural desire to learn.  Students came to see themselves as problem-solvers who could get things done.  Part of every day they met in groups of four to respond to challenges teachers put to them.  They learned research skills so they could find answers to their own questions.  Their curriculum included accurate history and the ability to analyze their culture, including its issues of gross inequality that disadvantaged the indigenous Maya people.  Learning was rigorous, but often experienced as enjoyable.  Her class group was also organized into “commissions” where students made real decisions about discipline issues, what do do in recreation period, how to raise funds for school events, etc.  All that had prepared Rolanda to do well in high school.  WhenCIMG0310 she graduated her hunger to learn led her to continue to university studies, where she graduated in 2008 with a degree in journalism. At left, Rolanda in graduation gown, shown with her husband, Emiliano and their daughter.
She and a colleague from the village, Santiago Boton, moved into local journalism.  In a very makeshift “studio” they broadcast a program about local indigenous people in the Ixcán, the region where the village is located.  The quality of their effort caught the attention of an international television company, Telesur, which hired the two to do programs about indigenous Maya people in their region that are broadcast to many countries in Latin America.  Their work seeks to break down barriers of understanding and the overcoming of prejudice and discrimination.  Theirs is a passion for democracy that they developed in the liberating education they received in SMT, their home village.

One response to this post.

  1. Awesome article!


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