Thursday, 20 August 2009

Venezuelans on a crossroad

The first pie chart on the left shows the proportion of pupils in state (free) schools versus the ones in private schools in Venezuela. The proportion has been rather stable for ages: some 83% of Venezuelan children study in state schools. The current government has not changed that. That was the case when my parents grew up* and that is the case now. The children of the better off - the sons and daughters of the Boliburguesia and of the Ancien Regime - as well as the children of many professionals who just earn a bit more than the average and take extra jobs to make ends meet (like many friends I have), study in private schools orn semi-private schools like the ones run by priests and nuns.

As I wrote in the published post, even based on governmental data we can see the school enrollment without the misiones has actually dropped and even with the misiones it has stagnated and even decreased since 2007.

Now, the second pie shows the results to my little poll here. The question was: "did you (Venezuelan) study in state or private schools in Venezuela or in both?" There were 16 contributors. Even if this is a small figure, I am sure the proportion will hold if we were to extend the poll. 6 persons studied in both public and private schools (usually, it would be primary in a public school and secondary in a private school), 7 studied in private institutions only and 3 studied only in public institutions. What does this mean? The better-off Venezuelans are incredibly over-represented among the English speaking Venezuelans with Internet access. An overrepresentation in itself is not surprising, but the proportions are incredible. The real problem now is something else, though: the opposition is focussing the discussion on some of the interests of that group only without considering the interests of the rest, even the interests common to all of us.

We have seen how the government has pushed for an education reform that was not discussed in public and that was approved by the almost completely chavista National Assembly in just a couple of days of monologues.

Many NGOs involved in education, academics, the opposition in general and many others have asked for time to discuss things openly, to no avail. One of the curious things of this legislation is that it even goes into curtailing the freedom of speech. Because of that journalists from the rather chavista newspaper Ultimas Noticias went to distribute flyers in the capital and were violently attacked by chavista thugs. The president and "comandante" declared journalists provoked the attackers (with those flyers, I assume).

The opposition, after asking so many times for a discussion, is considering other ways of civil protest. Still, it is doing one thing wrong: it has lead the discussion center on the interests of people whose children are in private schools or people in universities, instead of focusing on issues that are at least as urgent for everybody. It does not matter a considerate amount of the poor are against chavez (out of my head: 41% in the poorest region of carabobo, the majority in the biggest slum in Venezuela) and a lot of multimillionaires are now part of the boliburguesía: the opposition is not turning the discussion to quality in basic education, to transparency and to accountability.

That is completely bonkers. Even if one can be personally affected by the government trying to interfere with private school, one should realise right now we need to garnish support from all Venezuelans to overturn that legislation and the only way we have a chance to succeed is if we see why it is wrong for all Venezuelans as well. Venezuelan pupils on average are the worst in Latin America and if we do not bring that discussion to the table, we will take once more the wrong road. Officialists are a minority now, but we will go on being a minority as well unless we present proposals for the absolute majority.

Ps. I think the situation in Venezuela is particularly dire as those Venezuelans who have seen other possibilities know mostly the US education system. Although the US has by far most of the best universities on Earth, its education system is below OECD standards. Here we could learn a bit about education in Europe.

*Well, it was the case once my dad was a teenager. The governments of AD built many schools in the forties. My dad started school under a mango tree, with one teacher for all children of the village.

here an article about about the law of education. Again, it is the head of the Venezuelan chamber for the Private Education (Cavep). What is the matter with the 80% of the population? "Well, not our business"?

1 comment:

  1. Apparently, even Rafael Correa in Ecuador is doing a decent job with regards to education:


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