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Students’ initiative influences Mexican Senate


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A campaign to amend educational laws to ensure girls have equal access to education is making a big impact 

One in four girls will marry before their 18th birthday in Mexico. There is anecdotal evidence that girls, some as young as 12 in rural areas, are forced into early marriage because of poverty and pressure from their family, which denies them a childhood and an education.

That’s why Middle Years Programme (MYP) students at Instituto La Paz devised an initiative that encourages education equality in Mexico and feel it’s time for the government to guarantee all girls have access to education beyond secondary level and that they are motivated to continue with schooling.

 

Students from Instituto La Paz meet Malala

Instituto La Paz students participated in their first National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) conference last year, which takes place in New York at United Nations (UN) Headquarters, annually. They heard several speakers but were particularly inspired by a talk from the Malala Fund—which addressed girls’ education, globally.

 

As soon as they arrived back at school, they researched girls’ education in Mexico and their local community, making them aware of the urgent need for action. They worked with the Malala Fund, the United Nations Information Center (CINU) and Senator Sylvia Martinez to support their initiative.

To date, they have hosted film debates at the Senate, where they addressed senators, educators and the corporate sector, which has raised awareness around education inequality in Mexico. This has led to more schools requesting to host their own film debates all around the country.

Senators are now working with Instituto La Paz students to amend the Mexican General Education law to incorporate the UN’s education plan for peace into the education programme, giving girls fair access to primary through to university education across Mexico.

Students from Institut La-Paz at Malala UN Event in Mexico City 2017

Senator Martinez presented the initiative to the Senate on 12 December 2017. Her speech has been shared on social media over 10,000 times, leading to more foundations and corporations to contact Instituto La Paz students.

“Students have discovered that everything is possible if you have an open mind and are determined about your own learning process,” says Neil Crawford, English Director at La Paz.

“They have refined their communication skills, allowing their confidence to blossom as they explain their research findings to heads of organizations and foundations. They have understood that by working together on a global problem and looking for solutions now they can shape the future to be a better citizen of the world.”

Students plan to continue hosting film debates around the country to keep spreading awareness throughout communities.


This article is part of a series of stories from IB World magazine that bring to life the wonderful initiatives undertaken by IB students and educators from around the globe. Follow these stories on Twitter @IBorganization #IBcommunitystories. Share your great stories and experiences: email editor@ibo.org.

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