Autonomous School Chiapas: CIDECI-Unitierra

Cideci is an autonomous school in San Cristobal De Las Casas, Chiapas Mexico where the ideas of Freire and of indigenous learning have been synthesized into the powerful education model found within the school. Its foundation was synthesized using ideas from liberation theology, ecology, zapatismo, and indigenous understandings of land and organization.

“The students come from indigenous communities throughout Chiapas, many of these communities caracoles controlled by the Zapatistas and many with first languages other than Spanish. They come here to stay for a few months or several years before going back to their villages and taking the responsibility to teach or practice the learning they experience here and the skills they acquire. Many ex-students have taken the role of teachers on the various courses they offer which range from the various technical skills mentioned above (mechanics, weaving, shoe-making, electronics, carpentry, hairdressing) to courses around health and nutrition, to those around cultivating food (within a milpa) or raising animals. Alongside these subjects there are also regular weekly and monthly seminars which also bring together others from outside CIDECI.”

The lines between student and teacher have been completely blurred, and the education has strong roots in experiential learning. Everyone participates in both how the school is run, and the actual everyday operation of the school (food, housing, teaching, energy generation, etc.).

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