The Intercultural Studies Center (CENEI) is an area of support for indigenous students. It is in charge of articulating the efforts of the academic areas and the university services. The intended objective of CENEI, apart from promoting a close communication with our indigenous students, is to promote greater efficiency and permanency of these students. By doing so, CENEI will contribute to the formation of an intercultural education in our university.
The University of Quintana Roo has a population of students and teachers from different origins, for that reason, it is important to take into account strategies that permit to establish an equal approach through an intercultural vision so that the diversity can be recognized in the academic and cultural aspects.
To contribute to the process of building an intercultural society that may facilitate equal relations and actions.
UQROO´s mission is to contribute to the social, economic, cultural, and professional development of the State. UQROO has signed many agreements with other institutions and has developed research projects. Nowadays, the institution offers several services that benefit indigenous students in a direct way. Such services include the Programa Universitario de Tutorias (University Program of Tutorials), Programa Universitario de Becas (University Program of Scholarships) offered by the Fundacion and the Patronato Universitario.
On February 25, 2003 UQROO, along with the National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ANUIES), and the Ford Foundation signed an agreement in which the Academic Support Center for Indigenous Students (UAAEI) was created in the University. To create the UAAEI, the Ford Foundation through ANUIES granted $972.000.00, and such amount was used to buy the work equipment and to buy computers.
In November, 2004, the transformation of UAAEI into a center of attention for indigenous students and intercultural studies was proposed before the Consejo Universitario (University Council). Its mission was to contribute to the building of an intercultural society that would permit more equal relations and actions. Finally, on May 9, 2005 the Consejo Universitario approved the creation of the Intercultural Studies Center (CENEI) adding it to the Social, Economic and Administrative Division (DCSEA). The establishment of UAAEI, through a center, allowed paying attention to susceptible population sectors properly, such as indigenous students
Being placed into an academic area and being a department, CENEI has the possibility to participate in teaching activities and other actions related to its study field. In addition, areas of the University which facilitate the development of actions that contribute to the support of indigenous students. In the same way, the creation of this center made possible that the University of Quintana Roo, by means of the Consejo Universitario grant economic resources to make CENEI operative.
REGIONS OF INFLUENCE
The State of Quintana Roo has different Maya indigenous towns where many students who study at the University of Quintana Roo come from. For this reason CENEI took into consideration the characteristics of these towns in order to make them its area of study.
It is important to mention that for this centre, and taking into account the criteria established by the Ford Foundation and ANUIES, an indigenous student is someone who can speak any indigenous language or was born in a place where 70 per cent of the population is indigenous.
The State of Quintana Roo is divided into ten municipalities. The majority of the indigenous population is concentrated in three of them. These municipalities are Felipe Carrillo Puerto, José María Morelos, and Lázaro Cárdenas. Because of that, these three municipalities are considered to be our region of influence. Nowadays, the indigenous students registered in the University come from one of these three municipalities and so they are considered our main aim.
The Secretaría de Educación y Cultura is the institution in charge of coordinating the efforts regarding education; in Quintana Roo, since its formation as a State in 1974, the population that receive education has been growing. In 1970 the State had 21,725 students registered. In 33 years, the population of students has increased more than 13 times. Nowadays, the State educational system includes 284,048 students in several educational levels and types. This task has been carried out by means of 12, 892 teachers in 1,697 educational centers, as well as 7,521 people which have administrative functions. The type of education students receive in the majority of the indigenous communities is not the most adequate. Most of these students attend to telesecundarias , and high schools that are located far from their communities.
The distance between UQROO, which is located in the capital city, and the communities of origin is of 4 to 6 hours by road. Because of that, students can not travel every day due to the cost of transportation, so they have to stay in Chetumal and look for a place to live while they are studying.
Nowadays, illiteracy has been reduced to less than 10% (8.8) of the adult population. In addition, more that 30.9 million of students receive different levels of education in 225 mil schools through 1.5 million professors. However, the highest levels of illiteracy and failing in elementary schools are even more common in the municipalities of the Mayan Area where there is a low socioeconomic level. On the other hand, higher level education, which has a population that vary between the ages of 20 to 24, has a total of 16, 601 students, from which 12,000 are in public universities and 4, 411 are in private universities. Higher education in the State started in the 70s with programs in Engineering and in the Administrative area.
Objectives and functions
Taking into account the vulnerability and disadvantages of the students who come from the Mayan area of Quintana Roo and considering their cultural and socioeconomic characteristics, the CENEI has the following objectives:
• To guarantee accommodation to the indigenous students and to enhance their academic to performance at the University through the implementation of academic and cultural strategies.
• To lower the desertion rate of indigenous students through the management of courses, counseling, tutorships and other services.
• To support indigenous students through the management of scholarships.
• To contribute to the construction of an intercultural education at the University of Quintana Roo.
In order to reach the objectives mentioned before, the main functions of the CENEI are the following:
• To spread the objective and programs of the CENEI.
• To manage scholarships, counseling and training courses.
• To arrange meetings with indigenous students´ tutors.
• To spread the services offered by the University.
• To have a direct and close communication with the students.
• To monitor and evaluate the advances, the permanency results and the performance of the indigenous students
• To elaborate database reports.
• To manage, process and verify all the expenditures generated by the CENEI