The results of the famous OECD PISA test on scholastic performance have just been published for pupils of Miranda, Venezuela (more here). For the last couple of years I have been trying, together with other Venezuelans, to promote the implementation of the PISA programme for our country. We asked the national government on several occassions to let Venezuela take part. It refused. It ignored us. It prefers to declare to the world that UNESCO certified Venezuela as free of illiteracy, even if such a statement is based on a self-assessment study conducted by the Chávez government and provided to UNESCO without independent control. The current government hates transparency and open, real debate (it prefers parallel monologues).
|Venezuelan pupils finally took the same tests that German ones take|
The government of Miranda, led by opposition politician Henrique Capriles, accepted the challenge and got the pupils from Miranda-controlled schools tested by the OECD. The Chávez government tried to sabotage this by blocking the financing (Miranda needed to pay for some fees in dollars and the central government controls the use of foreign money like in old Soviet times, unless it's money for tourism or the like).
What are the results? They are very much in line with what I expected. Perhaps they are a little bit better than my expectations, actually. Miranda pupils score well below the OECD average, but rather close to pupils of other Latin American nations like Colombia or Mexico. Venezuelan pupils do worse in maths than other Latin American pupils, which is something I very much expected, as I have written earlier. With these results you can understand to some extent what kind of problems we are facing...and start thinking about specific solutions.
Still: Miranda is not Venezuela. Although Miranda is a very varied region, with highly skilled people next to people with little formal education, rich and poor to very poor neighbourhoods, it is still close to the capital and thus closer to a strong flow of ideas. Miranda is also governed by civilians from the opposition and not by a military government.
This is a good start in order to bring about transparency to education in Venezuela. I will be posting a lot about this in the next weeks.
PS. I NOW got some more feedback about the problem with the standards: apparently the Chavez government did not suply the required information that PISA also needed to make a better comparison. Shame on Chavismo.