Bad education


Over at Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog, I talk about the issue nobody wants to discuss. Because we’re all too busy obsessing about grainy videos and envelopes full of cash.

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


  1. The kids don’t vote and people couldn’t care less about their education. Yes, the sorry state and the obsolence of our educative system (do you remember your fund-raiser?) is probably the reason why most of the people don’t care about getting an education, but still.

    Juan Maragal (Director of the Education Board of Miranda) mentions some of the things they are doing in Miranda in an interview (in spanish):

    A nice tidbit: “For the price of a Sukhoi we could build 15 schools for some 10.500 kids”

    That is incredible, but I guess you’d need people to understand opportunity cost and the connection between education and economical development before you can use this fact in an electoral campaign.

      • Thanks for the links. What frustrates me is that Capriles and his team have solid ideas about education … but they rarely talk about them. It’s not his fault, I guess, just the fault of our squalid public sphere.

        • HCR is expected to release his education program in the next few days, because he wanted to coincide with the start of the school year. That’s what I heard.

        • Juan, Capriles has mentioned his mantra on multiple, previous occasions: “education, education, education”. To that effect, most normal-thinking parents would deduct that the topic is on the agenda for overhaul and improvement, assuming a Capriles win.

          Meanwhile, in the short time left until 7O, there are so many other critical items to discuss, for Capriles to differentiate himself from the chavista agenda, and pull in many more voters than parents, voters that can all agree, for instance, that violence levels desperately need attention. Capriles also needs to puncture the more outlandish chavista claims and their “revolutionary” spending habits.

          So I would not be so hard on Capriles, for failing to go, in depth, into his education plan — por ahora. I strongly suspect that the plan will be discussed. You know that.

  2. For some years now I have been pounding on the need for a massive civic education program as a cornerstone of Venezuelan educational public policy. Nobody listens because the topic is not sexy, takes too long to obtain results, while no one in Venezuela seems willing to embark on a long term effort. Yet, the day we create a critical mass of citizens in the country instead of resigned, state-dependent populace, we will be moving ahead. I have oulined the basic components of the program and sent it to many people. They mostly never answer or do so with polite disinterest.
    It can be done within 15 years. It would be simpler than sending man to the Moon and that man already went and came back. But, we are not swiss or gringos.

  3. Juan, where do I sign in support of your post?

    Public schools must be leveled up in a way that a kid can compete with the best private schools and, in the end, people have the choice to send their kids to their local public school. In my generation many successful people came from public schools and in my mom’s generation, almost everybody came from public schools.

    What happened? Why nowadays everybody “must” send their kids not just to private school, but to the *right* private school?

    I totally agree with you. Venezuela will be a developed country when our kids will have a chance at beating Finish kids in math.

    • My dad graduated from a public high school as well.

      I think there are enormous challenges, but the most important one is coverage and infrastructure. Quality of education will have to come later.

      • The problem in many cases goes well beyond quality. Many Public High Schools just don’t have math, chemistry or physics teachers, therefore, kids graduate without even having taken one science class in high school, I understand that they just reflect in the school records their GPA as the grade for this classes without teachers. We are graduating high school students with elementary school (at best) proficiency in math and no knowledge of basic sciences.

        • The system as it stands is crazy – there are whole regions of the country with few to no high school physics teachers, for instance. I heard that in all of Sucre State there are like 4 – with quite a few small cities like Carupano having none at all. At the same time you have tons of unemployed university physics graduates. BUT it turns out that to teach high school physics, you need a degree in education, not physics, so unemployed physicists cannot even apply to fill those vacancies!

          una locura…

          • Its just completely irrational, which shows that is just not a matter of money and infrastructure, we are also lacking plain common sense in the legal framework. An electoral promise of having a math, chemistry and physics teacher in every school, apart from being doable and laudable, would probably resonate with a lot of parents.

  4. If you have some time, you should read this article:,9171,1978758-1,00.html

    “To find out, a Harvard economist named Roland Fryer Jr. did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment in hundreds of classrooms in multiple cities. He used mostly private money to pay 18,000 kids a total of $6.3 million and brought in a team of researchers to help him analyze the effects […] The results represent the largest study of financial incentives in the classroom — and one of the more rigorous studies ever on anything in education policy.”

  5. Ho hum….what are you people going to complain and whine about next….the health care system?

    There are more kids attending school now in numbers and in percentage terms than ever before in the history of Venezuela….and you still whine.

    Decent values are being taught these days instead of trying to make our kids mental clones of US brats.

    We may not be top of the international league tables and could do better but we are on track and will not allow thebourgeois values into shcools that you want to impose. By you I mean Coronel.

  6. Tolerance, respect, solidarity, willingness to recognize duties as well as rights, to do hard work to improve as a human being, self-starting capability, cordiality, compassion. These are values that we know can be instilled in our children. Compare, Mr. Arturo, to the horror of these last 14 years when a legion of mendicants has been created by the our tropical Caligula nd corruption has emerged as the dominant trait of our public servants.
    Would you like to know about my proposal and discuss it? I am at your service. I am sure you would be able to give me valuable suggestions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here