Education: Life or Death

By John Warren

I like this statement… The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead. It encompasses one of the goals of the International Friendship Club (IFC): to help kids living here get a better education and a better life.
Life is difficult for many Mexicans living in Puerto Vallarta and is especially so for those who cannot read or write. IFC uses all of its profits from Home Tours, membership dues and fees charged for lectures and classes to improve the health and education of local Mexican residents.
This year, IFC’s Education Committee has decided to support seven educational organizations. Each year, one or more members of the committee visit each institution to discuss with the staff which of their programs would be enhanced if they were to receive a single donation from the IFC. All proposals are discussed by the committee to ensure that each is appropriate and a follow-up visit is made to ensure the funds have been spent appropriately.

This year, IFC cheques will be sent to:
Corazón de Niña – The number of abused and/or abandoned children now calling Corazón home is now 48. Some of them simply cannot attend the crowded classrooms and the open security situations in the public schools because of the trauma they have suffered in their lives and they now need the relative safety and serenity of a private school. The IFC cheque will cover a small part of these costs.
American School – The school has an outreach program with small, isolated, rural schools around PV. Like last year, this year’s contribution from IFC will be used to buy and distribute Spanish books to these schools. It will also finance a training program for the teachers to encourage their students to read at school and at home.
Volcanes Community Education Project- Kids in the public schools in Puerto Vallarta often share their classroom with fifty others and attend school either in the morning from 7:00 to 12:00 or in the afternoon from 1:00 to 6:00. Consequently, even completing high school is problematic. The Volcanes Project provides free, supplementary education in math, English, computers and remedial Spanish. IFC supports the vital role of paying full-time teachers at the project.
British American School – The BAS participants will use IFC’s financial support to supply Spanish books to impoverished schools and provide a school food program for very poor kids.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens – This wonderful garden, about 20 minutes south of town, has a symbiotic relationship with IFC. The garden promotes our IFC Home Tours to its visitors and we provide educational signage that describes, in detail, some of the plants to be found in the gardens.
ALAS, Escuela de Canto – was formed a couple of years ago by Kharla Barragan to provide music and dance performance opportunities to children of Vallarta who, until then, had been hard to handle. Kharla’s success can be seen at any performance of ALAS. This group is electric! It is also expanding and has asked IFC to help in the purchase of some percussion instruments and of a sound system.
Biblioteca Los Mangos – Vallarta’s major public library receives less than 10% of its annual operating budget from the City and has, in the last year, made the decision to become self-sustaining, financially. In an imaginative and bold move the library’s management has decided to transform a room, previously used for music lessons and performances, to a coffee shop and this is expected to produce substantial profits for the library. That’s the good news. The better news is that each year a budding, young entrepreneur will be chosen to run the coffee shop on a profit-sharing contract and so will receive a hands-on education of running a business for a year. After twelve months a new entrepreneur will be chosen, thus generating a small stream of experienced young business people for Vallarta.
BTW, the quote at the top is from Aristotle; an old, smart, Greek guy.
Next week will be your absolutely last chance of the season to take an IFC Home Tour. The last ones will be on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th. The tours leave the Sea Monkey restaurant at the foot of Aquiles Serdan and visit four different and lovely homes each week. The tours are raved about on Trip Advisor. Details of the tours and booking information are at Tickets are also available at our office located above HSBC Bank, downtown, at the corner of Libertad and Insurgentes. Tickets are limited, so please book early.

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.
He splits his time between Puerto Vallarta and Lethbridge, Alberta. In the winter months he writes for the IFC, this summer he’s focusing his writing on the environment.


  1. I do not like this statement: The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead”. However. it is true that we are not all one big family.

    It is the responsibility of the family (parents) to teach their children well, before, during , and after school graduation. Part of their parents teaching responsibility is the culture and history of their ancestors .

    With so many Mexican Indian groups, and each with a different language, some with up to 17 variations, different religious Gods, it is not surprising that Mexico is still a third world country.

    There was a popular book written in the United States many years ago entitled “All I learned in school is no longer true”. And in America today, many or most collage students would have been better off not going to collage because of their student loan debts are over $300,000.00, and cannot afford to pay them off.

    Myself, I worked two jobs during High School, and when I graduated, worked one and two jobs while I home studied electrical engineering, business, law , and computer electronics. It is easier today with the Internet, compared to the snail mail and correspondence schools.

    The U.S. founding fathers (many) did not go to schools, but studied in the library, or at home in their log cabins. Many students are home schooled today.

  2. In researching this issue, I came across the World Bank Report “Out of School and out of work”, where young unskilled Mexicans from the ages of 15 to 25 , from broken homes, who are leaving school and are among the 24 million called the nini from the Spanish expression “ni trabajan ni estudian … they neither work or study.

    They include those who are leaving Mexico and migrating to mostly California. Jobs available for them in Mexico include farming which consists of hard work and low pay, with the alternative of criminal activity , or leaving Mexico.

    During the great depression in America , government provided the WPA (work project administration) to provide jobs for out of work family providers. The jobs consisted of repairing roads, and working in the National Parks making trails and cleanup work.

    If the Mexican government provided similar WPA jobs so students would not have to drop out of school to help support the family, it would be like killing two birds with one stone. But of course in today’s world, why work when welfare pays more.

    In the early days of the United States, most everyone were farmers. Then, even the congressmen were farmers and did not get paid when Congress was in session. There were few schools in those days, while today in Mexico, there are government and free schools available.

    What a difference a day makes.

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