Venezuela: With the control of education, they are closing the circle
17.03.05 | The Hugo Chávez administration is putting its foot down on the accelerator to close the circle and armor plate its dictatorship. This time, it’s the turn of education. Now, having truncated the fundamental freedoms of the individual, i.e. the freedom of expression, the right to property, the presumption of innocence, and the very rule of law, another attempt is being made to abolish the right to freedom of thought. In statements to the press made some time ago, former minister Héctor Navarro declared that “for the change to be irreversible, first you have to change the citizen.” This gives an idea of what is actually happening.
The strategy of revolutionaries is to go to the heart of this issue not forgetting adult education. The sphere of action will include both the public and private sectors.
With Decree 3,444, which partially reforms the regulations governing higher education, the powers of the Opsu (University Sector Planning Office) and the National Universities Council, presently made up of rectors from the different public universities, are considerably reduced by transferring them to a government official who can be freely appointed to and removed from office, in this case the Vice-minister of Higher Education Academic Policies. This measure has dealt a cruel blow to the autonomy of the universities, as it means that the government now has control of the programs of study as well as the power to create new universities tailored to the regime’s requirements.
The Resolution on Educational Communities, which is now ready to be signed by Minister Aristóbulo Izturiz, and Bill 15, which takes account of the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and Venezuela, runs counter to the teaching career system based on professional training and competitive examinations and imposes the completion of political-academic training courses as a prerequisite for selection.
This desire of the government to manipulate education is nothing new. In 2001, it tried to do the same with the aborted Decree 1011, and again in 2002, when it aimed to change the school calendar. It was soundly trounced on both occasions. But, in 2004, taking advantage of the opposition’s preoccupation with the recall referendum, it managed to slip through Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports Resolution No. 9, which gives it powers to make teaching and curricular changes at all levels, the aim being to implement a “process of cultural resistance” and address the “phenomenon of ethnic shame” and neo-liberal policies.
This new attack on the education system points to the government having new cards up its sleeve with which to coerce people, among them the secret Basic Education Law, drafted based on revolutionary criteria whose purpose is to shore up a political process and not to improve the education system.
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