Nationalizing Cement Plants while Privatizing Schools

Here’s a crazy thing:  turns out the Chávez government – you know, the same one that has managed to nationalize everything from black bean imports to cement manufacturing – is slowly, gradually privatizing the school system.

According to the government’s own data, the proportion of children in mandatory education going to private schools has risen every single year since 2003-2004, from 16% then to 21.5% in 2010.

Amazingly, there are actually 671,000 fewer children in state-run schools now than there were 6 years ago, even tough there are 241,000 more 0-19 year olds now than there were seven years ago. The private system has picked up some of the slack – creating 380,000 new places – but not all.

It’s easy to forget now – so easy to forget it’s virtually always forgotten – but the reason Latin American countries back in the late 1980s and early 1990s were urged to privatize state owned enterprises wasn’t out of some unrestrained man-crush on the miraculous virtuous of capitalism. It was so they could focus on their core competencies: stepping back from things markets do well and states do badly so they could concentrate on things states do well and markets do not-at-all.

Things like, say, free compulsory education.

Que neoliberal, ¿no?

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.