A mural on #TheEducationWeNeed painted in Mexican school
March 10, 2020
Por: Carolina Osorio
Morelian Students and teacher (Michoacán, Mexico) report the experience of painting a mural in their school, with the purpose of expressing ideas, emotions, dreams and concerns of adolescents and youths on their right to education
As part of the regional campaign #TheEducationWeNeed for the world we want, carried out from Oct. 2019 to Mar. 2020, students, artists and teachers joined at the Preparatory School Profesor Melchor Ocampo, located at the city of Morelia, in the State of Michoacán, Mexico, to paint a mural in which they present the expectations and opinions of adolescents and youths on the right to education.
The mural was conceived during a conversation with Michoacanian artists Bethel Cucue and Alain Silva, from Cherán community. In the final version of the mural, it not only shows the participation of the students and their dialogues on their right to education, but also their ideas, emotions, dreams and concerns, as well as the particular identity of each of them.
To find out more about this action, the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) talked to the school’s cultural coordinator, Paulina Mojica, and two of the students who took part in this activity: 17-year-old Brandon Vargas and 16-year-old Yafeth Ulises Soto.
“We tried to register in a mural our ideas on the #LaEducaciónQueNecesitamos para el mundo que queremos campaign slogan and by that to inspire more students to keep growing personally and professionally”, affirmed Yafeth.
Read the full interview below:
How did the idea of painting an artistic mural in your school originated and how this initiative connects to #TheEducationWeNeed campaign?
When we found out about the campaign launched by CLADE and UNICEF, with the purpose of listening to and collecting proposals and challenges from adolescents and youths under the slogan “#LaEducaciónQueNecesitamos para el Mundo que Queremos”, the concept attracted us immediately and we really felt like participating, so we released a call among our students, inviting them to draw a mural [sketch] showing their vision on education, to be painted by themselves on one of the most visible walls of our center.
In this mural, we find elements representing concerns with environment and education. Each one of us shared our ideas and expressed them in the mural, becoming participants in the collective process of making it. The concerns end up to be very close between them, like the peace represented as a origami crane, or the universe as a metaphor of infinite knowledge.
More than saying what each element means, we invite you to contemplate and think, what does it represent for each of you? We find in it words in p´urhepecha [language spoken by members of the purépecha people from the west of Mexico], such as “juchari uinapikua”, meaning “our strenght”, and “xarhatakuarhikuarhu”, a compound word meaning “youths are present”.
Identity is important, we live in a planet named Earth, in a country named Mexico, we are part of a culture, we live in community and coexist, students from this Preparatory School are present.
Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales – We tried to register in a mural our ideas on the #LaEducaciónQueNecesitamos para el mundo que queremos campaign slogan and by that to inspire more students to keep growing personally and professionally.
Brandon Vargas – The action tries to be connected to people, providing them guidelines and following some issues each student has and their concerns, which many times, for some reason they don’t express.
¿Who made the mural?
Paulina Mojica- We got more than 15 different designs from students, some made in groups and others individually, and later we… our center invited two professional mural painters from the Cherán community, to help us choosing the winning design. But what happened was wonderful: instead of choosing one winner only, we agreed about bringing together the creators of the four best designs to design together a mural registering all their ideas.
The designers, alongside the mural painters, made it. Before painting the mural, each of them talked about his/her vision and the meaning of education and the meaning of each element disposed in their original individual designs. So, little by little, with all contributions, they reached a design merging all their views. In the next day, they were already painting the mural, our students coordinated by the mural painters.
Brandon Vargas y Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales- We made it ourselves, along with three other students from the Preparatory School, with the support of the Cherán professional mural painters.
How did you find out about the campaign and how did you decide to participate?
Paulina Mojica- We usually ask “how education should be to promote the changes we want for the world?”, and this one, like all good questions, is capable of pricking us out, provoking us, putting us far away from conformity. This happens to both teachers and students, but the only voices we usually hear are teachers’ and pedagogues’. On that occasion, we decided to listen to our students, and thus we joined that campaign, which we found out through teacher Juan Hurtado Chagoya.
Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales – Together with the other colleagues, each one of us made a “prototype” of what we wanted to register [in the mural] and after that, in order to include everyone, we decided to choose some aspect from our drafts and incorporate it harmonically, so that the message would resonate perfectly.
Brandon Vargas – One of the school teachers brought that idea [of the campaign], then the school proposed the activity and the final idea of the mural came from love and dedication, from the scratch, based on four [different] murals.
How did you like joining? Why?
Paulina Mojica- Our students are continuously looking for a way of expressing their views on the education they receive, many times they do it in words, but on this occasion they were given the opportunity of doing it in images, designing a mural.
Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales – Because the activity was proposed and we saw the students could choose to participate, because we also want a better world, with a new vision and, besides, this message is sent to the future generations. Who would express it better than the students?
Brandon Vargas – The mural idea came from the proposal they made us and the concerns of each student.
For you, what is #TheEducationWeNeed for the world we want?
Paulina Mojica- It’s an education that prepares us to life and not to get a title to be hung on the wall. It’s an inclusive, creative, tolerant, respectful, coherent, capable of developing our students from their logical-mathematical intelligence to their artistical expression.
Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales – A secular education, free and inclusive for all, especially for those with disabilities (like being blind, for example). An education in which race or ethnical motivated distinction isn’t present, in which the interest for both students and teachers who do love their work is shown, but above all [an education in which teachers] like what they do.
Brandon Vargas – A transparent education, consisting in teaching us with sincerity and giving us the discernment we deserve.
Are you considering to carry out other activities on the same subject or initiative?
Paulina Mojica- We have considered to organize a short film contest and a storytelling contest; in addition, many students have shown interest in painting different murals in other school areas.
Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales – If the opportunity is given to promote more activities for more people, I will be pleased to do it.
Brandon Vargas – Yes, of course, we are lucky to count on impressive minds and ideas in this school.
Do you identify any positive change for having participated in the campaign?
Paulina Mojica- The sense of belonging to the school and having their opinions recognized. Since that design was made by our students and then they developed it on their own, it has resulted in greater empowerment not only to the kids who immediately took part in it, but to the majority of our students. They don’t see the mural through the same eyes as us teachers or as a pedadogue who is distant from them, but through the eyes of their colleagues, which are not alien to their own.
Yafeth Ulises Soto Rosales – Yes, now students dare to see possibilities, they know they are heard by the teachers and they can ask for more, as much as we want.
Brandon Vargas – Yes, this activity helped us to open our eyes and gave us the possibility of seeing the reality of stuff, of seeing our ideas, of valuing them. It gave us the possibility of seeing everything.