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Bringing Down the Wall

Bringing Down the Wall: Primary Schools as social condensers in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca

Karen MataRodrigo Guerra | Jorge Silva

In Salina Cruz, the interaction between schools and the street life is defined by walls. This relationship impedes the improvement in the quality of school education and social integration, essential pieces to break the structural poverty that prevents development in Mexican cities.

Salina Cruz is the third most populated city in the State of Oaxaca, with a population of more than 89,000 people. According to the Inclusive Educational Development Index, a study done by Mexicanos Primero, students from the State of Oaxaca have the worst performance in both primary and secondary education. Moreover, only 20 percent of the students who enter Oaxaca’s primary schools go on to higher education – less than half of Mexico’s national average of 43 percent – and just 12 percent complete a college or university degree. The recent economic success of Salina Cruz has not mitigated this problem. Currently, one in every five adults has not reached their educational potential. This condition represents an opportunity to challenge the role of schools and their architecture in the city.

By studying the physical and social conditions that define the relationship between schools in Salina Cruz and the city, this research aimed to understand how schools can help improve the urban form and from people’s daily life experience. School design and construction is controlled by the central government and can be ill-suited to the cultural and climatic conditions of less urbanized areas like Salina Cruz. In response, parents, teachers and children have worked together to foster new social structures, appropriate space, and empower teachers unions. Building on this local response, Mata, Guerra, and Silva propose an intertwined institutional framework among schools and their neighborhoods that positions schools as civic centers that serve the community.

Mata, Guerra and Silva completed their research in the summer of 2017. Their short video, Bringing Down the Wall, gives a glimpse of their observations in the field.



Click below to view a slideshow of their final presentation: