Venezuela Launches New “Bolivarian” Education Curriculum

With the inauguration of 15 new Bolivarian Schools, President Hugo Chavez kicked off the 2007-2008 school year across the country this week. He announced the new Bolivarian education curriculum to which he said all schools in Venezuela, including private schools, will have to abide.

Mérida, September 19, 2007 ( With the inauguration of 15 new Bolivarian Schools, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez kicked off the 2007-2008 school year across the country this week. The president visited a primary and a secondary school on Monday where he announced the new Bolivarian education curriculum to which he said all schools in Venezuela, including private schools, will have to abide. Chavez emphasized his government's high budget for education that will go towards improving and expanding the public school system.

"We have to continue building the Bolivarian school system," said Chavez, who emphasized the importance of "continuing the transformation of the old schools into Bolivarian schools."

The Bolivarian school is the new the public school system developed under the Chavez government in recent years that includes all-day schooling and three meals per day. A total of 4,746 public schools had been integrated into the Bolivarian school system by 2006 and a total of 1,020 more were incorporated for the 2007-2008 school year to make a total of 5,766 Bolivarian schools across the country. Chavez said that all public schools would be incorporated into the Bolivarian system by 2010.

The president also emphasized the government's commitment to the nation's education system and underlined the high percentage of the national budget dedicated to education. At the inauguration of a new Bolivarian secondary school in the state of Monagas, Chavez reported that 7.4 percent of national income was dedicated to education, a number that is comparable to most developed countries, he assured.

"This year we are going to have additional income because we have known how to defend the price of petroleum and the economy keeps growing," said Chavez, adding that he would continue to review the necessities of the national public school system. "A large part of the additional funds will go to the construction of new schools, from preschools to universities," he said.

At the new Bolivarian secondary school Chavez criticized the situation of the public school system under previous governments. The president recalled that the national budget for education when he came to power was at 3.6 percent of national income, and that the state didn't have money to pay teachers nor basic expenses "and much less to build new schools," he said.

"The poverty in the country was really high. Today we have begun to rebuild. This year we will build more new secondary schools," he said.

Chavez explained that the new school curriculum would leave behind the "colonial, Eurocentric, ideological education," of earlier times that "taught us to admire the conquistadors." He criticized education systems that are based on capitalist values and "promote consumerism and contempt for others."

The new Bolivarian education is based on four pillars: learn to create, learn to participate and coexist, learn to value, and learn to reflect. The new curriculum was designed by the Ministry of Education, led by the president's brother Adan Chavez, and all schools will be required to abide by the program. The ministry will also release official textbooks to be used by all schools.

"We want to create our own collective, creative and diverse ideology," said Chavez.

The president also explained that private schools would be required to follow the national education system as well. Although he assured that private schooling could continue to function in the country, he warned that he would close or nationalize any school that refused to abide by the national curriculum.

"We can't let a private school do whatever it wants," he said, explaining that government supervision must be allowed in all schools and that the private sector "must obey the Constitution and the Bolivarian national education system."

Chavez emphasized that private schools in every country must permit government supervision. "Go to Germany, to the United States, or to any country in the world to see if [private schools can refuse supervision]," he said. "They close the school, they intervene, or they nationalize it," he said.

The president emphasized that nearly 9 million students are now incorporated into the formal education system and that, together with those in the educational missions, more than 50 percent of the population is studying. Chavez assured that Venezuela is one of only countries in the world where almost 60 percent of the population is included in the education system.

The number of teachers has also significantly increased in the country. Chavez pointed out that in the 1999-2000 school year there was an average of 62 students per teacher, a number that has now been improved to 28 students per teacher.