A schoolgirl has received an apology from the government of Mexico because she was denied permission to enroll in school.
She was barred from the campus because her family had been evicted from their village for being Protestant Christians.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide welcomed the government’s apology but said it remained concerned that many religious minority children in Mexico are missing out on an education because of their religious beliefs.
The girl, Alma, whose last name was not released, had not been allowed to go to school “since her family was forcibly displaced from their home.”
CSW said it met with the National Council to Prevent Discrimination.
Tania Ramírez Hernández, deputy director general of Relations, Culture and Education, told the student: “Alma, we owe you an apology, this country owes you an apology. Because even though we talk about best practice, the reality is that we didn’t respond in this moment when you felt fear, and you shouldn’t have. It’s that simple. … We are frustrated about not helping many people in the ways that we would like but at least you should know there are people, norms and institutions here to ensure that we do not to let you down. We have certainly failed in the process but we are here to protect you, so that your trajectory in life is what you want it to be.”
The girl’s family was removed from their village in Bolanos Municipality, Jalisco state, with several dozen other Protestant Christians.
While Article 3 of the Mexican constitution guarantees “compulsory” elementary education and Article 24 guarantees freedom of religion or belief, the reality is that children like Alma, who are displaced from their homes along with their families over their faith often have their education “disrupted,” CSW said.
CSW held several meetings, in collaboration with Impulso 18 and with the blessing of Jorge Lee Galindo, the federal adjunct director general of Religious Associations, to address the issue.
“The meeting with members of the federal government was the first of its kind discussing how religious discrimination affects children and their access to education in Mexico,” CSW reported.
“We hope that [the] meetings will serve as a valuable first step towards raising awareness of the situation of the many religious minority children in Mexico who have had their access to education restricted in some form,” said CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also committed to seeing that no child “is left without access to school and if they are already studying that they don’t leave school out of necessity.”
“We are trying to achieve the right to education, that education would not be a privilege, but a right for all,” he said.