New school year: Venezuelan government lies continue

New school year: Venezuelan government lies continue

Published on 09 Oct 2023

Reality vs. Fiction

On Monday, October 2, the 2023-2024 school year officially began in Venezuela. According to official figures, more than eight million children and adolescents were summoned to attend classes in public and private schools and high schools in one of the most difficult beginnings of the school year in history.

Low salaries, absence of teachers, infrastructure problems and student desertion are real failures faced by education in Venezuela. Despite this, the Ministry of Communication and Information (MIPPCI) set itself to the task of promoting narratives on X (former Twitter) about a return to classes “in style”, while teachers demanded on the same social network #SalariosDignosYa.

Without decent salaries

The salary situation of Venezuelan teachers is chaotic. The director of the School of Education of the UCAB, Carlos Calatrava, explains that in South America, the basic salary of teachers ranges from US$ 3,000 in Chile to 130 bolivars in Venezuela (less than US$ 4 per month). Taking into account the income per country, he assured that the salary of a teacher in Venezuela should be close to US$ 950 per month.

This has been one of the main reasons for protest in Venezuela during the last few years and teachers are the civil society actors who have organized the most for it.

In fact, low salaries lead teachers to make decisions such as not attending classes every day. The educator affiliated to the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers (FVM), Elsa Castillo, assures that these decisions are justified by Clause N° 56 of the II Collective Contract, signed in 1986, which establishes a “protection for fortuitous cases” that prevent teachers from showing up at their jobs.

“Active teachers should not join. This is not a strike, nor a stoppage, this is a fortuitous case. The justification they have to send to the principal of the institution every day is that they cannot go to work because they don’t have a ticket,” he says.

Without all the students

Data handled by the UCAB School of Education indicate that 3 million children and adolescents are excluded from the educational system. To this is added an additional million corresponding to dropouts, according to data handled by the NGO Fe y Alegría.

These figures reveal that 14% of young people of school age do not attend any school, which represents a serious educational problem in the country.

No educational quality

Although at the moment there is no official data, nor is there an instance of the Ministry of Education that makes the measurement of educational quality, since 2019, the UCAB undertook the Online Knowledge Evaluation System (SECEL), which measures through tests taken by the students themselves through the Internet, the level of real competencies of high school students in the country.

The results of the tests are dramatic. In 2021, the level of knowledge resulted in 9.44 out of 20 as the average score of Venezuelan students. The 2022 test gave 8.21 in mathematics and 8.42 in verbal. For this year’s June sample, the average is 07.

With protests online

A day before the start of classes, civil society managed to position a protest trend focused on improving salaries. The hashtag #SalariosDignosYa was positioned in X with approximately 17,200 tweets.

“No surrender, no fear! The teachers’ struggle must continue,” read some of the tweets posted as part of the protest on the social network on October 1, while among the main words most repeated in the tweets accompanying #SalariosDignosYa stand out: salary, struggle, teacher and workers.

This was the fiction of the State

On October 1 itself, one day before the return to classes, the “hashtag of the day” promoted by the MIPPCI was #SeVienenLasClases with a message that assured that the return to classes would be “In style!”.

This trend accumulated approximately 32,500 tweets, almost double the number of messages of the hashtag promoted by teachers on the same day.

The narrative that the tag promoted by the MIPPCI sought to impose is diametrically different from the teachers’ denunciations. Words such as teachers, collaborators, committed and thank you are some of the most repeated in the tweets.

Gricelda Sanchez, president of the Civil Association for the Training of Union Leaders (Fordisi), denounced that Venezuelan teachers started the school year with a lot of pressure and persecution with 70% of the schools with military and police presence.

“These troops were present supervising the attendance of teachers and even taking attendance, unusual that they have approached now and not during the holiday season, preventing the looting of institutions by the underworld”, he stated.

For more information on socio-political manipulation on social media you can follow us as @ProBoxVe.

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