Alejandro Mayoral Baños

  • Founder, Grupo Juvenil Magtayaní, AC
  • Mexico

Impact area: Social inclusion; Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4

When school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to deepen educational inequalities experienced by Indigenous youth in Mexico, Alejandro Mayoral-Baños moved quickly to explore solutions.

Alejandro, the founder of Magtayani, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering the self-determination and self-management of indigenous communities, knew that distance learning would only exacerbate educational disparities and dropout rates in rural, Indigenous communities.

With support from the Global Youth Resiliency Fund, he and his team sought to mitigate the immediate effects of the pandemic on student learning, while developing a customized application to facilitate online information-sharing between students and teachers over the long-term.

Working collaboratively with educators, the Magtayani team co-designed an online application “Pásame la Tarea” (Pass Me the Homework), making it easier for students and teachers to share documents and resources, and facilitate distance learning. Through the project, Indigenous secondary school teachers were trained in digital learning and communication skills to be effective in transitioning to at-home education.

A valuable ally in the project was Professor Luis Alvarado, an activist and teacher at Colegio de Bachilleres, a high school in the municipality of Ocosingo. Located in the Lacandona Jungle, a biodiverse rainforest stretching from Chiapas to Guatemala, the school enrolls more than 275 Tseltal students, descended from the ancient Maya. Professor Alvarado played a key role in the development and testing of the online app. Following, 195 smartphones were distributed to local students to facilitate learning and access to the Pass Me the Homework portal. The process was then replicated in two other indigenous schools in Chiapas and Veracruz.

Beyond the grant’s immediate impact, Alejandro sees the Pass Me the Homework app filling an important need in educating Indigenous youth over the long haul. He credits the GYRF funding with enabling Magtayani to expand its partnerships and reach beyond its initial focus on Veracruz. “Thanks to the implementation of this project—with its research-action focus—we have strengthened our strategic alliances with universities,” he says.