The Mexican government will assist 12 more Community Learning Centers, known as Plazas Comunitarias, to open their doors in Georgia by the end of the year to assist immigrants settling here, Remedios Gomez Arnau, Mexico’s consul general in Atlanta, announced on Aug. 9.

The new centers are to be in Atlanta, Albany, Cumming, Dalton, Marietta, Norcross, Rome, Savannah, Statesboro, Tifton, Winder and Valdosta.

Georgia already has six centers located in Athens, Blairsville, Columbus, Dalton, Ellijay and Gainesville.

The centers “help improve the educational level of not only the Mexican community, but all the Spanish-speaking people here because we have centers even where the majority of the people are not Mexican,” Ms. Gomez Arnau said in a press conference held at the consulate general in Buckhead.

The centers, she said, offer literacy courses in English as well as elementary, middle and high school level courses in Spanish to help prepare students to take the General Education Development test.

Adult education, English as a second language and computer courses are offered online at as part of the program under an agreement between the Georgia Department of Education and the Mexican Secretary of Education.

“We want to help in their integration to the hosting society,” said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, executive director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, which is located at the Mexican consulate. “We believe that it is not only in the interest of the immigrants and their families, but also in the interest of the local communities that they contribute, enrich and prosper with their daily work.”

Craig Geers, an education program specialist with the Migrant and Refugee Education Programs with the Georgia Department of Education, said that the centers are helpful to young agricultural workers who do not enroll in American schools, but who want to learn English. They are generally between 16 and 21 years old, he added.

There are 370 similar centers in the U.S., which are located in various institutions including community centers, schools, vocational centers, churches, community colleges as well as correctional facilities.

The centers also are managed by local institutions with the support of the Institute of Mexicans Living Abroad, the National Institute for Adult Education and the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Institute for Mexicans Abroad – Alberto Diaz Gonzalez, coordinator
(404) 266-2233, ext. 239.