Autonomous Education in the Zapatista Communities: Schools to Cure Ignorance

Glasgow Chiapas Solidarity Group

“For our children there are no schools or medicines, no clothes or food, not even a dignified roof under which we can store our poverty … For our boys and girls there is only work, ignorance and death … Our children have to begin work at a very young age … our children’s toys are the hoe, the machete, and the axe; when they are barely able to walk, playing and suffering, they go out looking for firewood, clearing brush and planting …They cannot go to school to learn Spanish because work kills the days and sickness kills the nights. This is how our children have lived and died for 501 years”.

Letter from Zapatistas to schoolchildren in Guadalajara describing the life of an indigenous child in Chiapas, 1994

Fortunately, the life of indigenous children in Zapatista communities has improved greatly in the intervening years, largely due the the structures of autonomous education which they have put in place. This article from the Glasgow Chiapas Solidarity Group, originally published in, gives an insight into the workings of autonomous education in the five Zapatista caracoles in Chiapas.

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