Caracas, Venezuela, May 16, 2005—During his weekly television program, Aló Presidente, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez announced yesterday the initiation of a new stage in Venezuelan education, based on “coexisting, knowing, and doing” and called upon the Venezuelan youth to reject "imperialistic anti-values" cultivated during previous governments and to "rescue the authentic Christian values, lost by the capitalist model."
Chávez affirmed that his government considers education to be a "vital aspect" of the Bolivarian political programand is committed to improving the education system’s quality and transforming its traditional paradigm through the construction of “Simoncitos,” as the Bolivarian preschools are known, as well as Bolivarian schools, high schools, universities and technical schools.
Chávez blamed the capitalist and imperialist media campaigns for filling the people with poison, teaching them to overvalue money and leading them to believe that the poor "are worthless." In order to change these parameters, the Venezuelan President asserted, values such as unity, brotherhood and solidarity, must be placed above competition and individualism. "We are all a team, going along eliminating little by little the values or the anti-values that capitalism has planted in us from childhood…"
The May 15th Aló Presidente was broadcast from the Bolivarian high school Llano Alto in the northwestern state of Barinas moments after inaugurating the high school. Aristóbulo Istúriz, the Minister of Education, who attended the inauguration along with the governor of Barinas, stated that although there are currently only 26 Bolivarian high schools in Venezuela, by September there will be 307 up and running and by the beginning of 2007, all Venezuelan high schools will be Bolivarian. Each Bolivarian high school costs approximately 1,800 million bolívares ($837,000) to build.
According to Istúriz, the Bolivarian high schools are focused on transforming adolescents from being individualistic to being socially aware; from being competitive to cooperative; and from being consumers to being creative. Additionally, the Bolivarian education system does not only teach traditionally subjects but also focuses on developing a sense of pride in the students for their own region and culture.
According to María Eugenia Dávila, a student in a Bolivarian high school, "there is really a great difference between a Bolivarian high school and a "normal" Venezuelan high school…The Bolivarian high school gives you a big change. The community has been the representative in all of the high school, it has been the protagonist and they have helped us in all of the activities."
Carlos Ojeda, who is now sings in the choir, participates in theater and plays football in his Bolivarian high school, opportunities that "we never had the possibility to do before," concurred with Dávila, noting that "the community is there hand-in-hand with the Bolivarian high school."
Both Chávez and Isturiz cautioned that in order to transform the entire educational system, additional investment in Simoncitos, technical schools and universities is necessary.After affirming that the transformation of the educational system was not only "Istúriz's responsibility, not only the responsibility of the government, but also of everyone, of the citizens," Chávez asked Istúriz to design evaluation committees composed of community members to discuss progress and projects. "The very own students, along with their professors, can form their cooperatives to operate the resources and develop their planes," he affirmed.