Mérida, 16th September 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Around eight million pre and primary school children began the new Venezuelan school year today, with the government announcing the distribution of free textbooks and laptops to educational centres.
This year the government will distribute 35 million textbooks to state primary and high schools from its Bicentenary Collection, which covers the national curriculum. This marks an increase from last year when 30.75 million books were distributed under the system, and 12 million in 2011.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro lauded the government’s preparations for the school year, stating on Saturday that policies were designed to provide “quality” education to all.
“To begin classes on Monday and take children to school, we’re going to begin handing out 35 million textbooks so that classes start with the best quality,” he said at an official event.
The government is also planning to distribute 5 million copies of the National Constitution to schools this term in order to raise awareness of the constitution’s contents and promote the values defended in its articles.
“This [Bolivarian] revolution can only be made if we fill it with love every day, if the passion of loves moves us; the purest love for our children, our parents…for our grandchildren, love for [late Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez,” Maduro declared.
In the Venezuelan constitution, passed in a national referendum in 1999, education is described as “a human right and fundamental social duty; democratic, free, and obligatory” (Article 102). In practice education in Venezuela is free including at university level, while private educational institutions also exist.
The government will also distribute 650,000 free “Canaima” laptops to children from 1st to 6th grade this school term. A further 1.4 million will be handed out in 2014, bringing the total distributed since 2008 to 4 million.
Assembled in Venezuela, the Canaima laptops are manufactured as part of a cooperation agreement with Portugal.
Further, under the government social program “A Drop of Love for My School”, repairs were made to 1000 educational centres over the summer holidays.
The authorities of opposition controlled municipalities in the central state of Miranda also reported to have realised repairs to some schools in their areas in preparation for the new term.
Along with the distribution of materials and renovations to infrastructure, the Maduro government is launching a new children’s theatre scheme this school year. School pupils will experience a range of classes such as acting, lighting, oral narration, and music under the program, which is named after 20th century Venezuelan dramatist Cesar Rengifo.