Ayotzinapa Students Part of a Rural Teaching College Tradition in Mexico

The six students who were murdered and 43 students who “disappeared” on September 26, 2014 were students at the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, Mexico. The goal that united all the students was their desire to improve their own lives and their community by becoming teachers.


Every year, 140 first-year students arrive at the all-male Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College from some of the most economically battered places in the hemisphere, where elementary schools are often single-room, adobe structures without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. These are among the most committed youth of their communities for whom the system says there is no place: The ones apparently destined to enter the lowest ranks of the drug-warring armies or to scramble across the Arizona desert and pick bell peppers in California or wash dishes in Chicago. The teachers college, known as Ayotzinapa, offers them a different route: a profession. Ayotzinapa says to them, “You belong here.”

Tuition and board are free. The state government provides a meal budget that amounts to $3.70 per student per day, which usually means a diet of eggs, rice, and beans. The students do all the cleaning, tending, and a large part of the cooking. The first-year dorm rooms are windowless concrete boxes with no furniture. As many as eight sleep to a room, laying out cardboard and blankets for bedding. 


Rural teachers colleges were created after the Mexican Revolution to promote literacy in the countryside. By the mid-1900s, they numbered as many as 36. In 1969, the federal government closed numerous schools, and now only 14 remain. 


The hope that these colleges once offered is slowly disappearing.

Gardner Student Center

Five figures are in place in the Gardner Student Center portion of the installation. The figures are located on the first floor neat the east doors.

Next location: Student Activity Center (SAC)

The installation continues in the International Students Office in the Student Activity Center (SAC). It is building #3 on the map.