President Chavez Defends Venezuela’s New School Curriculum

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned parents to not be deceived by media reports about "brainwashing" and explained that the new "Bolivarian" curriculum was designed by education experts, parents, and students, with the intention of strengthening national identity and national values.

By Chris Carlson – Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, September 25, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned parents to not be deceived by media reports and explained that the new "Bolivarian" curriculum was designed by education experts, parents, and students, with the intention of strengthening national identity and national values. He also called on all schools, public and private, to abide by the law and implement the new national curriculum. Chavez made the comments during his weekly TV and radio program Aló Presidente last Sunday.

"They say we are going to brainwash the children," said Chavez, referring to claims made by private media after the new curriculum was announced last week. "No! They know that is not true. We are just assuming our responsibility."

Chavez challenged opposition leaders who have criticized the new curriculum to engage in a "real debate, but with reasoning" over what the national educational curriculum should be. The president called on the nation's parents to reflect upon their children's education and the necessary values that it should instill, criticizing the values of "consumerism" that he blames on capitalism.

"I'm calling on parents to be conscious of our kids. Let's instill in them values. Be careful with the television programs. There are a lot of bad influences, the internet, child pornography, consumerism, to name a few," he said.

Chavez showed the content of the new curriculum on national television, explaining its structure, which is based on four fundamental pillars of learning and four programmatic themes. The four fundamental pillars are: learn to create, learn to coexist and participate, learn to value, and learn to reflect.

The programmatic themes refer to Environment and Health (collective, individual, and mental health, and harmony with nature); Inter-culturality (self identity and the recognition of national consciousness); Information and Communication Technology (for the production of native content, free software, and the generation of knowledge); and Liberation Work.

Chavez said the Ministry of Education will edit the textbooks to be used in the schools and assured that they would be provided to all students free of charge. He also criticized textbooks made by private companies, saying that many of them are of very poor quality.

"Education cannot be privatized. It is an essential public service, vital for the people," he said.

Chavez called on all teachers, parents, and community members to get a copy of the new educational curriculum, to debate it and learn about it. He assured that the curriculum would be constantly debated by teachers in the Bolivarian public schools, but also said that the new Bolivarian education goes beyond the school walls and involves the whole society.  All schools, public and private, will be required to abide by the curriculum.

The president went on to discuss what he considers to be the brainwashing of the capitalist world and criticized the major media and mainstream movie industry that penetrate other nations and cultures with the values and ideas of the United States. He criticized, for example, the increasing popularity of breast implants among young women and blamed it on young women's desire "to be like Barbie."

Chavez explained that his government is promoting a national film industry with national historic or cultural content in order to instill in Venezuelans national culture and identity. He listed several productions that are in the works and assured that they would be as good as imported films. Many of the films he mentioned will be about Venezuelan national heroes, such as Ezequiel Zamora, a leader of a national land rebellion in the 19th century.

The national productions will include work from national directors, actors, and scriptwriters, but will also include the participation of known international actors.

"Let's rescue our traditions and forget about the stupid Spiderman and Batman movies.  That is ideology!" he said.