Photo: Reuters retrieved
After the Madurazo, my mom thought she’d lost her job at the school where she’s been working as a teacher for the past 21 years.
With a raise of 35 times the minimum wage and the prohibition to increase the monthly tuition fees, the owners of the school (located in a historically middle-class sector) wouldn’t have enough money to pay their employees. They thought they’d be forced to shut down, because with their radical opposition leanings it was unthinkable for them to apply for the Venezuelan State to cover the wage hike.
With a raise of 35 times the minimum wage and the prohibition to increase the monthly tuition fees, the school wouldn’t have enough money to pay their employees.
But a miracle happened: The school will keep working and employees will be offered a special bonus to help them survive the crisis. All due to a bizarre phenomenon: most of the nearby schools shut down this year and, consequently, dozens of children have now enrolled in that institution, increasing the student population and the school’s revenue. According to my mom, each classroom will go from an average of 30 students to 50.
The law of the jungle, in this Maracucho wild west.
According to the National Association of Private Education Institutions in Caracas, at least 400 private schools could shut down this year due to the economic crisis that has been hitting the sector for years, which has forced hundreds of children to migrate to public schools.
At least 400 private schools could shut down this year.
However, the public sector doesn’t look good for the 2018-2019 school period either: 3,500 teachers from the Venezuelan Association of Catholic Education have quit, to leave the country or engage in other informal jobs. Fe y Alegría, a movement that provides free education to over 170 schools across the country, reported a drop of over 50% of its students compared to 2017 figures.
According to Noelbis Aguilar, head of the organization’s school department, the previous school year started with 113,000 students from kindergarten to technical high school, a number that had dropped to 90,500 by March because parents were not taking their kids to school. The school year ended on July 31, with 89,218 students.
3,500 teachers from the Venezuelan Association of Catholic Education have quit, to leave the country or engage in other informal jobs.
One of the main reasons parents stopped sending their kids to school is hunger: dozens of children faint in class due to lack of food or proper nutrition. Because of this, every year Fe y Alegría launches a campaign called #UnCuadernoParaFeyAlegría (A notebook for Fe y Alegría) to raise funds for school materials for students—many can’t buy them due to hyperinflation—and to create food programs.
Susana Raffalli, nutritionist specialized in food management, published a video on her Twitter account where she talks about this issue: “Fe y Alegría is ready to receive them, with their schools, their programs, their teachers, and with a system of nutritional protection.”
“We need our children back in school, because that’s one of the few care and nutrition spaces left,” she says before offering a devastating detail: teachers will also have access to food aid, because they are also victims of hunger and “we have to care for them.”
We need our children back in school, because that’s one of the few care and nutrition spaces left.
I wonder how much more damage the dictatorship is willing to do to us. Hundreds eat from the garbage or remain imprisoned and tortured in the State’s police dungeons. Thousands of sick patients suffer due to medicine shortages and millions flee the country on foot. Now, our education faces an uncertain destiny.