Caracas, Venezuela, August 18, 2006—The first class of the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) graduated this Wednesday. President Hugo Chavez attended the ceremony, in which 1,078 students received the title of Superior Technicians (técnico superior) in Environmental Management (Gestion Ambiental), Social Communication, and Social Development. Some of the students will be going on to receive their bachelor degrees.
“I give my life for you, children of the homeland, because you are the standards with which the struggle against academic exclusion in this country began,” said President Chavez.
Chavez called the graduation ceremony historic and marvelous, and reminded those in attendance that the UBV was created to break the paradigm of the elite universities.
“This ceremony serves to strengthen my commitment with the Bolivarian University of Venezuela and the rest of the universities of the country,” Chavez said.
Chavez also announced his content that almost 70% of the graduates are women. “This is very significant and I have always said it: capitalism is machista and to a large extent excludes women, that’s why, with the new socialism, girls, you can fly free,” said Chavez.
According to Zulia’s largest daily, Panorama, Chavez’ daughter, Maria Gabriela, was among the over one thousand graduates.
Lilian Espinoza was the student chosen to speak to those in attendance. “We want to thank God, our parents and our President, Hugo Chavez, for having given us the opportunity to be here,” she said. Espinoza noted that the greatest difference between the UBV and the rest of the Universities, is their “insoluble” connection with the community. Espinoza also spoke about the academic exclusion that thousands of students must suffer.
“For us, this was an almost forgotten dream, but with this mechanism of inclusion, never again will one high school graduate feel the despair of exclusion,” she said.
In an attempt to immediately open the doors to employment for the new graduates, President Chavez announced the creation of a Presidential Commission to incorporate the new graduates directly in to development projects around the country. The commission will be coordinated by the Ministry of Higher Education and will also incorporate the UBV Dean and the Ministers of Energy and Petroleum, Environment, Communication, Education and Sport, Housing, Infrastructure, Popular Participation and Social Development, and the President of CONATEL. Participants in the development projects will receive a scholarship-salary of just over $230/ month, slightly above minimum wage.
“You can count on my support,” said Chavez.
With this Presidential Commission, according to Ruiz, graduates in Environment Management could participate in projects under the Ministry of Environment, such as Mision Arbol (Tree Mission) and the recovery of the Guaire River.
According to Vanessa Maldonado, National Coordinator of the National Program of Environmental Management, the objective to is to transcend the academic and work closer with the communities. She verified that many of the graduates have already begun to work in their communities through student projects.
There are currently a total of 6,671 students studying Environmental Management. Students from the first classes in Bolivar and Zulia will graduate in October.
During his speech at the event, Ruiz announced that the UBV will be initiating three new degrees this October: Petrol-chemistry, Petroleum, and Gas. He also added that by this September the university will be opening up 20 new satellite campuses across the nation.
Poliedro and Hipodromo
During his speech, Chavez announced the turning over of the Poliedro Stadium in southern Caracas to the UBV, as well as the territory surrounding the Caracas complex known as the Hipodromo. Chavez said that the Poliedro, which was formerly under control of the Ministry of Culture, should be “managed by the students, and in that way the University will have its own income through the activities of the government.”
Two years ago, there were plans to move the entire UBV main campus from its current home in the former-PDVSA offices near the Central University of Venezuela to the Helicoide, a former mall turned DISIP (Venezuelan intelligence Service) headquarters. Although these plans fell through, Chavez announced on Wednesday that they will now be constructing a new “modern” and “ecological” campus on the more than 10-hectare territory of the Hipodromo (the Caracas race track).
“I hope to inaugurate, in a little less than one year, the new campus of the Socialist University of the 21st Century, a model university, the Bolivarian University and from there have an impact on development and social impulse in all of the surrounding area,” said Chavez
The UBV was created in June 2003 in order to give lower-income students the opportunity to study, and graduate with a college degree. The University is free of charge, and is part of the larger Venezuelan higher-learning education program, Mision Sucre. As reported by ABN, and according to the University’s academic director, Julio Vivas, there are 120,000 students studying through the University across the country, of whom 20,000 youth are located at the main UBV campus in Caracas. Everyone else is located in the municipal system throughout the rest of the nation.
See also: Venezuela’s Revolutionary University