Venezuela Announces New Programs and Progress in Health and in Education

Unperturbed by increasing criticism about the non-renewal of the broadcast license of one of Venezuela’s main television channels, Venezuela’s President Chavez announced a major new higher education initiative and important progress in expanding the country’s health care system.

By Chris Carlson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, May 27, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Unperturbed by increasing criticism about the non-renewal of the broadcast license of one of Venezuela’s main television channels, Venezuela’s President Chavez announced a major new higher education initiative and important progress in expanding the country’s health care system.

On Thursday, Chavez announced the creation of 28 new universities across the country and yesterday he officially inaugurated one of 19 new health clinics in the country, highlighting statistics about the advancement of his government’s health care program in general.

With the goal of advancing the new National Public Health System of the Venezuelan government, 19 new Integral Diagnostic Centers (CDI) were inaugurated across the country yesterday, bringing the total to 319 CDIs in the whole country. According to President Chavez at an inauguration of one CDI in Barquisimeto, the end goal is to construct 600 CDIs across the country, of which there remain 281 more to build.

Chavez presented statistics for the national health system Barrio Adentro (Inside the Barrio), showing significant advancement in the construction of new installations. The Barrio Adentro II program, which consists of Integral Diagnostic Centers (CDI), Integral Rehabilitation Centers (SRI), and High Technology Centers (CAT), now has a total of 1,235 installations in the whole country which give free medical treatment to all Venezuelans. Chavez said that the infrastructure of the health system has grown 62% this year alone.

Along with the 19 new CDIs inaugurated on Saturday, the government also inaugurated 27 new Integral Rehabilitation Centers (SRI) which brings the total in the country to 430. "We still have to build 170 more meet our goal of 600 SRIs," said Chavez.

In addition, there are now a total of 15 High Technology Centers (CAT) in the country, of which three were inaugurated on Saturday. The end goal for these centers is 35 in the whole country.

The Barrio Adentro program is made up of 4 different levels of treatment. Barrio Adentro I consists of the construction of basic health clinics built in communities around the country to provide basic family care. Barrio Adentro II consists of the CDI, SRI, and CAT, which can give more advanced care with modern technology and testing. Later, Barrio Adentro III is the remodeling and reconditioning of existing national hospitals, and Barrio Adentro IV consists of the construction of new hospitals around the country. The program has made significant progress since Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998.

"We will not rest in the construction and advancement of the national public health system because it is a very important element in the concept and practice of socialism," said Chavez.

28 New Universities

On Thursday, at an event with university students from around the country, Chavez also announced the launch of the first phase of Mission Alma Mater, which is supposed to dramatically increase the country’s higher education system. Chavez explained that this phase of the new program will go from 2007 to 2012 and will have the objective of constructing 28 national universities in different parts of the country.

"There will be 11 new national universities, in addition to 13 regional ones, and 4 new technical institutes," explained Chavez. He went on to explain that the new national universities will be organized into the following specializations: University of Health Sciences, University of Basic Sciences, University of Art, University of Hydrocarbons, University of Security, University of Languages, University of the South, University of Economy and Fiscal Sciences, University of Tourism, University of Communications, and a University of Agricultural Sciences.

Chavez also announced that the 29 existing technological institutes and technical schools in the country will be converted into technical universities.

In addition, Chavez made various announcements affecting the existing universities in the country. All university staff will receive salary raises for 2006-2007 and will be paid back pay that the state has accumulated over the past 15 years. All workers will receive between 28 percent to 34 percent pay raises, depending on their position in the public universities.

Chavez added that Bs. 1.4 billion has been approved to pay all retired upper education personnel up to December 31st, 2006. $12 million will be invested in university cafeterias and 1,800 computers will be given to high schools and universities. University scholarships will also be increased by 10,000 this year and all scholarships will be raised to $100 per month in all the universities in the country.

Also, all entrance examinations to public universities will be eliminated, so that students only need a high school diploma in order to enter the university system. The entrance examinations had constituted a major filter mechanism that skewed university entrance in favor of the upper and middle class, who could better afford entrance examination preparation courses.

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