Mexico requires a birth certificate to enroll in public school and many children in Playa, especially those from small towns, are not able to go to school because they were never issued a birth certificate
The General Education Law in Mexico states that every child has the right to a free education from age three until age 18 and must be enrolled by age three. However, to enroll in public school, a parent must provide a birth certificate for their child. Many parents from small towns are not provided a birth certificate and their children can not be enrolled. We spoke with Gail Collins from The KKIS (Keeping Kids in School) Project and she explained why some children can not be enrolled.
Many Mexican citizens do not have a birth certificate or do not realize the importance of getting one when a baby is born. In communities that do provide birth certificates, if you apply for the certificate within six months, it is free. However, if you do not request one within six months, then the birth certificate becomes an expense that most people can not afford. A new birth certificate is $450 pesos and must be applied for in the town they were born. Many of the region’s Mexican residents moved to the area from other states in search of work. Traveling back to the town they migrated from is an expensive voyage, and unless there is someone there to verify the birth of that child, it could be a wasted trip. Larger towns and cities with hospital facilities have a register of births. However, in a small community without good record keeping or a home birth, certifying a birth after the fact may prove difficult.
Another problem some face in this region is they may not speak Spanish (many speak only Mayan), and trying to find work without at least Spanish language skills is extremely difficult. When and if children are enrolled in school, there are added expenses, such as uniforms, that parents can not afford. Even if they were able to provide a birth certificate, the school costs are too great, so children are not enrolled.
Finally, there are some children who attend school until their teens, but then it may be necessary for them to quit and go to work to help support the family. Being unregistered can result in denied access to education, healthcare, and legal protection, making them vulnerable to organized crime, kidnapping, and abuse from employers.
There are organizations who provide some support to families. The public institution, DIF (National System of Integral Family Development), provides some support by helping students get a birth certificate and an education. KKIS has been able to provide scholarships for some students in grade 7, 8 and 9. For more information on KKIS, please visit their website www.kkisproject.org.