Wednesday, 14 April 2010

You and Venezuela's education

Textbooks here and there

I want to ask you a favour: send me a picture of a primary or secondary school book from your country if you or rather your children or grandchildren happen to have one. Any textbook would do: maths, English (or Norwegian, German, Spanish), geography, biology...anything.

Whether you have a picture or not: tell us how much you had to pay for textbooks in primary or secondary school in your country or whether those textbooks are from the state. As far as I have found out pupils in the vast majority of developed nations and in many others use textbooks from the school at primary school level and in most countries (including very capitalist USA) they also use school books right up to secondary school.

Do you know how things are in Venezuela? The norm is that parents have to pay for books and those books can cost more than one worker's monthly salary. Sometimes they can make photocopies of the books and sometimes - the exception - they can borrow them from the very poor libraries. Misiones do provide for some very rudimentary material. Almost all Venezuelans think that is normal and anything else is "a luxury" and that "you cannot give it all away". But they think the petrol prices they have are fine and public universities are really free. No wonder most students there come from private schools in spite of all the quotas.

Venezuelans' priorities

And meanwhile Hugo Chávez has lots of money to spend in Russian tanks and Chinese airplanes and yesterday he used Bolívar's sword to take oath to 35000 militia men and women, mostly functional illiterate, as if he were a new King Arthur with his new red knights.

A suggestion to opposition "leaders": it is fine you say you are for private property and keep repeating the words "private proverty" every minute or so, but please, get into these other topics. Now.


  1. At least in sweden, and i believe this is the norm in europe. Or at least scandinavia. The books all the way up to (but not including) college/university) are free and provided by the school. Also books for taking notes and such. I even think we got some basic pencils.

    In college you have to buy the books your self. But you do get money from the state every month that is supposed to cover this. So you can almost say that the books are for free on college as well.

  2. Thanks, Nunne.
    In Germany all books and notebooks are provided by the schools up to the end of high school.
    They are not at university level, but with some luck you can just photocopy most or lend books from the library at university level.

    In Belgium it is more or less the same, in secondary school you do have to buy books, but you do that usually through special cheap second hand shops for textbooks.
    All books for primary school and notebooks and pencils are provided by the state.
    I still want confirmation from others.

    Please, if you manage now or later to take pictures of schools or school material in Sweden, send the pictures to me. I will be preparing a series of post in Spanish for Venezuelans in Venezuela to find out what we can do with the money instead of buying rifles for the militia.

  3. I wouldn´t say that in some german states/regions the books are not provided by the school. You have to pay them by your own, also lectures, workbooks etc.!

    At the university I had also to pay most books and copies by myself!

    So if you have two or more kids, the stuff for school can cost you a lot!

  4. Schoukri,
    What Bundesländer? Are you referring to Grundschule as well?
    I studied at a German university and I had to buy my books there, but in general there were some books I could deal with by borrowing from the library and making photocopies.
    For me it should be normal that primary school books are provided by the state.

    My friends from Bavaria told me they got their books from the school up to Gymnasium. I thought like that in Baden-Württenberg, but I am not sure.

    It would be interesting if I could get more data from other Bundesländer. Here in Belgium primary schools books are completey provided for.

    In Venezuela this is the exception:

    This is what the Chavista government does:

    and this is what parents have to pay:

    (all links in Spanish but you speak Spanish as well)

  5. OK, for example in Rheinland-Pfalz in the 90´s my parent had to pay our schoolbooks. They weren´t provided by the school and at the university it was often very hard to get the books, also just for copies. We were just to much students in our course of studies.

    So here you have a nice overview about the situation in Germany:

    At least I would say the situation in Germany needs also a reformation and I would call my Spanish "work in progress"!

  6. Schoukri,
    Thanks for that URL. It is very informative. I did not check all of the Bundesländer yet but it seems NW and Saarland are some of the worst off when it comes to support for pupils. And even so the price they have to pay is lower than in poor Venezuela and given the salary difference, way better than in Venezuela.
    It is incredible how people in Venezuela don't seem to realise all this. Another reader, a lurker, wrote me saying it is similar in other South American countries...whereas in the US they get all the books up to high school...kein Wunder!
    I am collecting more details from Venezuela from friends with children. I will publish on that in the next weeks. But firstly I will treat other topics.


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