I have a friend who teaches English in Tule, a small pueblo on the outskirts of Oaxaca. He teaches in a preparatoria, which is what I’d call a high school. He asked me to visit a few of his classes. Since I’m not use to working three fifty minute classes back to back it was a challenge.
I took a collectivo, which is a taxi that gathers up people to share the fare. It’s cheap, eight pesos got me from the super market 2 1/2 blocks from my house to the preparatoria. When I arrived I needed to use the bathroom. No toilet seat, no toilet paper, no soap. My friend gave me a tour of the school. This is the library, he said. We have no new books. The computer room wasn’t available to view, but the communications students were busy broadcasting from their radio station, where they played Beattle songs.
The classes are big, fifty students in each class. My friend is paid not by salary, but by the numeber of classes the principal assigns him. Marking papers and lesson plans are done on his own time, and if he wants to be assigned sufficient classes to earn a living he needs to continually take courses at his own expense. The courses won’t move him into a higher classification, as they would in Canada, and they won’t ever stop because he’s at the top level. The courses will continue so that he will be assigned classes.
It’s a public school. If a family values education and has enough money their children are sent to private school. The school is one of the better public schools and many of the students are from my neighbourhood, which is middle class.