Monday, 2 September 2013

The State of Education in a Stateless Nation

My mother was a school teacher. My aunts as well. I attended a public school in a poor area of my region, paid by the State. I got free lunch, like all the other kids. That was 3 decades ago. Teachers didn't have much of a salary, but they could live from it. They could even raise a family. 

When Chávez came to power, his propaganda machine started to tell the world the "revolution" had made real free education possible. Sometimes they owned up public education existed before "but only on paper, there were many people who couldn't go because they didn't have scholarship". In reality, the situation has only deteriorated. Useful idiots supporting Chavismo abroad didn't think for a moment how come Chávez's parents were school teachers and his brothers went to university - for free. The only thing that happened in this Chavismo time is that the government, with over 8 times more petrodollars flowing in, started to give again more scholarships than what previous governments could give when they had the low oil price period of the nineties. Most of these "scholarships", though, are nothing but some money for people who couldn't find a job in an economy completely dependent on state-sponsored imports.

Notitarde describes a little bit the situation of teachers now. The article refers to my region, but it is the same everywhere else in Venezuela. The state of Miranda, managed at some limited levels by the opposition, is at a somewhat  better position, but that is about it.
70% of teachers at public schools now do not earn the minimum salary. That means they earn less than 2,702 Bolívares, or 302 euros a month at the official rate, less than 150 euros at the real rate. 

I went to a school like this....but teachers could raise a family with their salaries back then
Now think about this: Venezuela was in 2012  the main importer of weapons in the Americas. It imported more weapons than huge Brazil. Most of the money for those weapons came from FONDEN, the Fund for "Sustainable Development". The National Assembly does not have control over that money, it is the government's private fund, to use as the president sees fit. Most of the money went to Russia and some to China, but also some to Spain and other Western countries.

A lot of the teachers are not even permanent employees but live from one temporary contract to the next one, for years, which is against the law...but then the law is only for the "evil, capitalist private sector". The percentage of pupils in public schools has not increased since Chavismo came to power 14 years ago. This is what we have after the longest oil boom in our history.

If this is not perverse, I do not know what it is. Chavismo cannot even deliver what socialists or half-socialists or "socialists-in-the-making" provided in Cuba, in Vietnam, in the former Soviet Union. Extreme leftists always say when their favourite systems fail that these system were not the real thing. Even those systems that were not "the real thing", according to them, are miles apart from the mess Venezuela is in. Only the high oil prices keep Venezuela running.

Ps. Notitarde and El Carabobeño are some of the few remaining media outlets that can be critical of the regime. As Caracas Chronicles mentions here, they are under threat now.


  1. Good article! Finally somebody writes about this key issue that would really help the people to get ahead. And the way that you expressed it, matter of fact and from your own experience, makes it even more compelling. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Edith.
      The topic of education in Venezuela really worries me. The regime is wasting so many resources and shamelessly lying to people. There is also the problem of the "Bolivarian" universities, where 'academic' levels are kept at the lowest point and ideology takes a central role.

      Many in Venezuela often lack the perspective about how things compare to the outside world, even neighbouring countries.
      Foreigners get to hear little about the education issue from Venezuela but the propaganda spread by the governments' PR people.


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