By KELIN DILLON
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, Mexico’s Third District Judge in Administrative Matters of Mexico City, Yadira Medina Alcántara, enacted a nationwide amparo (legal injunction) to restore the country’s Full-Time Schools program (ETC), which was controversially ended in anticipation of the implementing the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) led government’s The School is Ours (LEEN) initiative by the end of the year.
The amparo was granted in favor of activist organization Mexicanos Primero, who argued that the elimination of the Full-Time Schools program violated millions of children’s rights to education and food, especially considering the new LEEN program will leave many of the ETC’s beneficiaries without any type of support for additional education opportunities and guaranteed meals.
The Full-Time Schools program previously provided more than 3.6 million of Mexico’s most financially challenged children with hot food, additional class time and educational support. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 11 percent of its participants relied on the program to receive their only meal of the day.
Now, Medina Alcántara’s ruling will see the ETC – which has been characterized by educational experts as a “social equalizer” – reimplemented nationwide, with the judge’s decision specifically detailing that Morena member and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) and the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), all must comply with the order.
“Within their spheres of competence, authorities must restore the Full-Time School service that was in force prior to the issuance of Agreement number Aug. 4, 2022, which modifies the Operating Rules of LEEN for 2022, that is, it should adopt the measures that are deemed pertinent so that the same benefits that were provided for in that one continue to be granted, including the budgetary adjustments that are deemed convenient for that purpose,” said Medina Alcántara.
If the program is impossible to reinstate, the government must create new provisions within the LEEN to address the missing benefits of the ETC, said Medina Alcántara in her ruling.
Medina Alcántara went on to mention that the end of the Full-Time Schools program was unjust and “disproportionately” affected the children’s mothers, as the program helped provide secure after-school child care opportunities for working mothers. According to the judge, removing the program reduces “the possibility that they develop their life projects effectively and the possibility of job stability that has an impact on their economic status.”
“The claimed omissions, related to the lack of budget for the operation of the Full Time Schools program, in an analysis of the appearance of good law, represents a violation of the principle of comprehensive education, because it restricts a service modality through a system that allows not only basic education in the terms that are taught in all schools, such as those of ordinary time, but in terms of situations linked to full time that represent school support, and even the right to food,” concluded Medina Alcántara.
Late Tuesday night, the SEP said that it will challenge the ruling.