In a move that will provide important savings for low-income families, the Venezuelan government unveiled a plan distribute 12 million new textbooks to primary school students around the country in the coming scholastic year. The announcement was made last Monday by Education Minister Maryann Hanson.
“The objective of this program is to ensure that those with less economic resources can count on having textbooks in order to guarantee education as an inalienable human right”, Hanson said.
With an investment of more than 194 million bolivars ($45 million) the new textbooks will cover the subjects of Natural Science, Social Science, Mathematics, as well as Literature and Language.
According to Hanson, the ability to produce the books locally is the product of a combined effort of the different printing presses of various government agencies including the Ministries of Defense, Food, and Culture “working together for the benefit of the people”. Savings for parents and guardians of public school students, the minister informed, will range between 100 and 200 bolivars ($23 and $46) for each book.
CHAVEZ EXALTS INITIATIVE
For his part, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised his government’s latest educational measure during a telephone call to VTV from Havana, Cuba. Chavez, who is currently undergoing a second round of cancer treatment on the Caribbean island, referred to the educational advances in his country as something that “could not be done under capitalism”.
“This is the difference between capitalism and socialism. It’s not just about prices but rather about the value of things. Now we have the capacity to edit millions of books and teach our children from first grade to high school. We also have the Canaima computers and all the instruments and techniques necessary for our children and adolescents to participate in a liberating educational system”, he said.
The Canaima Program, another flagship educational initiative of the Chavez government, has provided more than 760,000 grade school students around the nation with free mini-laptop computersThe computers, the product of an international agreement with Portugal, come equipped with interactive software designed to help prepare students in the areas of science, mathematics, history, and language.
Over the past 12 years, the Chavez administration has implemented a number of highly successful educational reforms that have, among other achievements, succeeded in wiping out illiteracy in the country and solidified Venezuela’s ranking as one of the countries with the highest university enrollment rates in the world.
These programs, known as missions, range from pre-school to university level classes and have been deployed throughout the country in the most remote rural areas as well as the most populated urban shantytowns with the goal of providing a quality education to all citizens.
On Monday, Hanson also pointed out that the dropout rate for primary and middle school students has diminished by 50 percent over the past 12 years as has the rate of failure for students.