Photo: El Estímulo

I, like any reasonable parent, want my daughter to have a good education. The thing is, it’s not a matter of what I want, it’s how much I can afford. AnaT was born only months before Venezuela’s hyperinflation kicked in, so my husband and I knew we’d have to work hard to pay for her private education every single month.

We, Venezuelans, are now accustomed to pay very little for everything.

We, Venezuelans, are now accustomed to pay very little for everything. We actually think, at least subconsciously, that subsidized prices were the actual value of goods and services, so when prices started being set in dollars (though still not at international levels), everyone started shouting “especuladores.” I even heard economists and other professionals using that card, which got me worried.

It’s rather absurd that Venezuelans want to set their salaries in hard currency (and charge it at the black market rate or hard currency per se), but don’t think it’s fair that they have to pay in hard currency “because it’s not Venezuela’s legal tender.” Trust me, I’ve heard this more times than you could imagine.

And this is precisely the problem private schools are facing.

Parents want the best teachers for their kids, but some aren’t willing to pay what that service costs, like if they won’t (or can’t pay) for it, the private school must subsidize itself. But here’s the kicker: private schools don’t subsidize delay payments, it’s the other parents that have to cover for delays. And if it’s hard to afford your kid’s education, can you imagine having to cover everyone else’s school fees?

Parents want the best teachers for their kids, but some aren’t willing to pay what that service costs.

And don’t even get me started on the free-rider problem.

Education is, as a matter of fact, a human right. More specifically, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes a right to free, compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, and an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education.

However, when most parents say “it’s my kid’s right to have the best education,” they’re using the wrong adjective.

Public, free and mandatory education for all Venezuelans was decreed way back in 1870. Hence, it’s the State’s responsibility to guarantee it, not the private schools’ and their fee-paying parents. Also, it’s not “the best” education Venezuelan kids are entitled to from birth, it’s “public” education. Not necessarily the same.

So if parents decide they want a better education for their kids, they have to pay for it. As simple as that.

And while it might sound insensitive, it’s a fact that not everyone can afford a private school. That’s why citizens expect their taxes to fund education (and other public services) for their families.

If parents decide they want a better education for their kids, they have to pay for it.

We, as citizens, should urge the government to provide high-quality public education, even if we know the Maduro government will never offer high-quality, non-politicized education, and it’ll take quite a while for a new government to do so. I guess it’s easier to pressure private schools into doing whatever the hell you want, under threat of chavista intervention, whose sole mission is, and has always been, to limit and control private activity.

Don’t get me wrong: I cringe at the idea of having to pay for my kids education in hard currency, because I have to work my butt off to make a dime. Yes, sometimes private schools overcharge, which has to be dealt on a case-to-case basis, but I choose to do it because I want my daughter to have the best.

And “the best” costs money.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. I got a little problem with this post. You start out by rightly stating that it’s idiotic to call especuladores those who set their prices in hard currency, but a couple of paragraphs later you say that education is a human right.

    That anyone thinks that the service and time of another individual working to educate you (or someone else) is a “right” is beyond me. The fact that some international organization, the CIA, UN or TIA say so doesn’t make it so, even if the service is performed at a public school. In fact, precisely because we’ve relied on govt to provide education is why we have horrible public education everywhere unless you happen to live in a rich suburb where they tax the hell out of people to throw this money into the schools. You’ll end up having nice/new schools, but not necessarily good education. If anything, we should try to PREVENT govt from sticking its incompetent hands into education.

    The only natural rights you have are Life, Liberty, Private Property and freedom to try to make the most out of it while you don’t infringe on other people’s rights. The rest, including health and education, are services performed by individuals who pursue their self-interest, and rightly so.

    • Dear Ricardo,

      Very well said. Billions of people around the world (certainly a few hundred million in the US) believe they have a “human right” to things. Housing, clean water, food, education, medical care, iphone, fin well-paying stress free job with a lot of paid time off, etc. I don’t think they even consider that someone else must be compelled to provide/perform these services for them. If you said Fuck Off Slaver to them, they would not get it. They think “Big Government” can just provide these things for them. And if profit taking capitalism is the problem, then government needs to take over. Tax the rich. So, so, many rich to confiscate from for infinite free stuff. It’s just how they think. Private property? The hate that one (unless, of course, it is their property).

      As a libertarian, if I get asked “What about poor people?” I answer, “What about them?”

    • From a practical sense, I disagree. You’re leaning on the semantics of “right” to defend political philosophy.

      Education is a “right” in that it’s a necessary right in order to have a civilized, educated society. And forget about the university level:

      We’re really talking about K thru 12 education, I think, where politics shouldn’t come in at all anyway.

      So throw out the word “right,” because regardless, it’s just plain stupid for any society to deny their young a basic education.

      • I agree it is a good idea, in general, for a society to tax itself to pay for universal education of its youth, at least to some point (free university for interpret dance? maybe not to that point). Maybe is just semantics, but that something is a good idea does not make it “a basic human right.”

      • Who said anything about denying education? Btw, having a good education is fine but it’s not a requisite to be successful in life.

        And my comment is not about Politics. It’s about Economics.

        • You have to teach kids basic reading and writing skills in their native language (whatever that native language might be), math, sciences, literature, social studies and history, regardless if you want to criticize the details of these last two curriculums. Or is it curriculi?

          But giving kids a decent education doesn’t have a fuck-shit to do with economics. It’s a basic priority, unless your society is totally fucked up.

          So, sorry to disagree with you, but primary education is a right.

          • It’s not only a right, it’s an OBLIGATION, having a bunch of ignorant and illiterate good-for-nothing slacking imbeciles was one HEAVY reason of chabizmo’s rise to power and tue subsequent destruction and delivery of the country to the castrocuban invaders.

            You can’t afford to have people that can’t write, read, do basic math and that don’t know shit about the country’s history, because then those become barely more than a WASTE OF SPACE.

            You want “public education of quality”? Then PAY DECENT SALARIES to the public teachers, JUST AS IT WAS DONE IN THE SAUDI YEARS OF THE 4TH, where a bunch of people atended public schools and got quality education.

            When governments started to despise the public education sector was when everything started to go downhill.

          • The fact someone says education is a right doesn’t mean the private sector should provide you whatever the government doesn’t and then work for you for free just because you deserve it. If that were the case, now we are talking about slavery. And of course education has everything to do with economics. Teachers, principals, maids earn salaries, or you think all tables and chairs were dropped from heaven.

            The government has done an excellent job implementing socialism in people’s way of thinking.

            Once we start talking about rights, the sky is the limit. Why should we stop on education, how about food, how about clothing, health, everything should be free and be given to us and everything should be own by the government. This is why socialism still exist even though the historical track record has proven it doesn’t work.

          • It’s impossible to have that for free, libertarian, but it’s also impossible to have progress in the country without social mobility.

            When said that “education, food and housing are rights”, one musn’t think on “getting it for free”, but as it was stated before, that “no one can stop you from having access to them”, thing that chabizmo has done, outright BLOCKING people from getting education, food and housing BY ANY LEGAL MEANS.

            Do people has the right for education? Yes, and in fact, they are OBLIGATED to it, because illiterate and ignorant imbeciles are easy prey for communist demagogue scum.

            Do people has the right for a decent job? Yes, as it there should be the means for obtaining a worker’s license (RIF in Venezuela) EASILY by following an EASY process that DOES NOT LAST A WHOLE FUCKING YEAR AND HUNDREDS OF BRIBES. Also the people with small and medium enterprises shouldn’t be subjected to the constant harrassment of the government jacket goons that come extorting bribes and seeking to shut down said businesses at a whim.

            Do people have the right for food? Yes, as it should exist the means for the businesses that manufacture and produce food products to conduct a sustainable and profitable business, thus stopping oligopolies and monopolies that stop people from ever being able to acquire food (What happens in socialist Venezuela)

    • Nonsense. I believe her point of view, which is very difficult to convey is that all BOVENSUELAS want everything for free. When you get hard currency of any kind then you want to get branded clothing, 24-yr pure make whiskey, and so on. The fact that you had ”free” education doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything. This is where BOVENZUELANS show little if any smartness.

  2. “We, Venezuelans, are now accustomed to pay very little for everything. We actually think, at least subconsciously, that subsidized prices were the actual value of goods and services, so when prices started being set in dollars (though still not at international levels), everyone started shouting “especuladores.” I even heard economists and other professionals using that card, which got me worried.”

    Red flags all over the place.

    Get out, Anabella. If you can. Surround yourself (and your kids) with people who are achievers and aspire to success.

  3. Anabella, the words “private” and “public” say it all–“private” means funded privately, usually mostly by the private users (though some have large endowments/scholarship programs); “public” means funded publicly, usually by governments, usually by taxes. “Private” education is often/usually better than public, but will cost the user more, and usually the user will have to pay his/her quota for the public education in his district, by property/other taxes. whether the public, education is used, or not, by the payer.

  4. Most people have a VERY hard time wrapping their head around economic concepts. I remember a radio interview where a restaurant owner in California got convinced by SYSCO to vocally support SYSCO’s purchase of SYSCO’s only competitor who also could supply this particular restaurant. The restaurant owner had been convinced by SYSCO that as a bigger buyer SYSCO would extract better bargains from their own suppliers and then “pass the savings on to their own customers.” It apparently never occurred to the restaurant owner that multiple potential suppliers are needed to ensure high quality and low cost, that he in fact was supporting his own screwing by SYSCO.

  5. Just because some multinational organization declares that education is a “right” doesn’t make it so.

    I can just imagine all the diplomats congratulating each other on their achievement… (eyes rolling)

    • Basic right or not, it’s a thing of common sense, you can’t have a bunch of useless illiterates that can’t perform an useful work for society.

    • Education is not a right but derives from other constitutional rights.

      I agree please forget the International Education organizations as a reference.

  6. You have a right to an education in the sense that no-one should have the power to prevent you from being educated. Some cultures, for example, forbid women from being educated. Slaves were often forbidden an education by law.

    Women just recently got the right to drive automobiles in Saudi Arabia. But they do not have a right to a free car or free gasoline or free driver’s education. And I doubt you will hear them whining about, “what good is the right to drive if I can’t afford a car?” anytime soon.

  7. Did all of you actually read the same article? The author freely admits she expects to pay for “a/the” private education on top of any taxes paid. She rails against those who pay late or do not pay because, correctly, those costs come out of others pockets.

    Admitting that she wants the best education for her daughter and that she is willing to pay for it; some of you find fault with this? Get over yourselves. You sound just as bad as Judy Lynn.

    • This often happens in internet forums. People grab onto one thing and run with it. (I am as guilty as the next person)

      My wife and I sent all of our children to private schools, from kindergarten through high school. We certainly could have used that money for something else. But it was more important for our peace of mind that they got the best education we could offer them. It certainly wasn’t their right to go, but it also is their right TO attend if they can pay and are accepted.

    • The ONLY part of the piece I and others are discussing is the statement:

      “Education is, as a matter of fact, a human right.”

      How can you interpret this as finding fault with the entire article? Don’t be so self-righteous!

  8. Read the rest of the paragraph and take a look at the link.

    Self-righteous, sure; does not a country have an obligation to live up to the international accords it has agreed to? Just cause this is offen not the case does not lessen the obligation.

    In this case, the author, is taking to task not only the regime but also the “freeloaders” in private schools, (my term), who her daughter/family will have to complete with and possibly finance in the future. Those who should, and I am sure do, know better to try to score some type of advantage knowing full well that they should be taken out back and have some better sense slapped into them.

    This article has nothing to do with anyone being prevented from doing a God Damn Thing they can legally afford, ie pursue an education.

    • I think Annabella is adult enough to realize we are not faulting her nor her article by having a generic discussion as to what a “right” to an education implies. In fact, I would guess she is taking it as a complement that her piece has initiated some thought on the subject.

      And I for one am quite capable of doing my own reading without being ordered to do so by you.

  9. The people who neither earn nor contribute financially to a private school education are the students. They are there by luck of birth. And they get a huge leg up that will last a lifetime, if they are not complete self made disasters (and even then they will be spared the consequences of their shortcomings).

    That people are being squeezed out of private education by the economic crisis and trying to hang on is, by comparison, not really a case of free ridership in the sense of abuse. It is peoples’ desperation to secure an advantage for their kids. Hardly a sin. Particularly in the midst of an economic apocalypse. And at the expense of whom?

    On that point, is worthy of noting that 21st Century Socialism did not eliminate or reduce the single most powerful vehicle for the class system in Venezuela, and that is because chavismo’s parents are key contributors, and its children the lucky participants.

    Sometimes “the best” is not so great, paid in dollars up front or otherwise, in so far as it is the reward corruption pays to the next generation. Not always, but sometimes.

    • I swear. I keep trying. But I can never understand the points you try to make.

      What are you smoking?

      Your post is fucking retarded.

      • If anybody sees MRubio post a comment, would you please tell him to call our girl in Caracas. He has supplies waiting for him but we are having trouble contacting him or his daughter-in-law. In country calls are not connecting. That may be why we haven’t seen a post from him for the last couple of days.
        I think Movilnet is nearing collapse. It has been impossible to call into the country or to get enough bandwidth to use Skype.

        Waltz, I sent an e-mail to CC today asking them to provide you with my contact details. You may want to do the same. I will help you get the bread making supplies to MRubio.

          • Thanks folks.
            The most important item in the shipment is a prescription for Crystal that is needed for patients with kidney failure.
            The customs delays that have been plaguing seaborne shipments are now doing the same to airfreight.
            I had hoped that Crystal would have had this about 2 weeks ago.

          • what they need is cojones to start a real revolution. While we keep given stuff away, they will never react. I wish we could send a few AR15 and 1911, so they start shooting some of the bad guys. But even armed they prefer humiliation

  10. Private education (in Venezuela) has been underpriced for a long period time. So, as the author correctly says, people have wrong expectations about the right pricing of a private school.

    Teachers working in private schools used to earn small salaries, but they can’t continue working earning less of what they would earn in a public school (teachers in public schools currently earn at least 4 times the minimum wage according to MPPE). Private schools have a hard time trying to keep their workers and do not leave the country or become resellers. So, a number of private schools have raised salaries way above whatever the president stablished.

    Additionally, things like repairing parts of the AC, replacing light bulbs, ink, and paper are already sold in dollars. For instance, replacing a compressor of just one Ac costs 600USD and I haven’t even started to talk about replacing or fixing tables and chairs.

    So, yes private schools have a price and it is covered by its students. Unreasonable people can’t pretend the private sector assumes all the costs of hiperinflation and provide a subsidized education the government can’t with our taxes.

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