The left claims to love education. Whenever it takes over, it expands the educational system because it’s a convenient way to indoctrinate a new generation. But what happens when it runs out of money? Then it runs out of teachers and professors.
That’s what we’re seeing in Venezuela where public education has imploded as inflation spirals out of control. Products are hard to come by, there are food riots and salaries are worthless.
Socialism. This is what it really looks like.
So far this year, 48,000 teachers – or 12 percent of all staff at elementary and high schools nationwide – have quit, according to Se Educa, an educational group. The vast majority, according to the group, have joined a stampede of Venezuelans leaving the country to escape food lines and empty grocery store shelves.
And that’s just this year.
At Aquiles Nazoa – a school named after an ill-fated poet – Sciaca was the first to go, heading for Chile a year ago. Reinaldo Cordero quit a few months later, leaving behind his second-grade class and a salary that hyperinflation had shrunk to a black-market worth of around $29 a month.
Esperanza Longhi – who also taught second grade – quit in February. She’s at home, packing for Peru. To get there, she’ll go through Ecuador – the same country where Maryoli Rueda, who used to teach third grade, recently moved.
And universities aren’t doing any better.
Seven miles down the road from Aquiles Nazoa Elementary School, the campus of Simón Bolívar University is oddly quiet. Once considered the MIT of Venezuela, a university that churned out some of the best Latin American engineers and physicists is now in danger of becoming a ghost town.
In 2017, 129 professors – nearly 16 percent of the staff – quit, the vast majority to leave the country. It’s no surprise, officials here say. Using the black market rate for dollars, a professor’s salary here now tops out at about $8 a month, because of hyperinflation.
Thirty professors retired last year but have not been replaced, in part because of a lack of qualified candidates. The university is so short-staffed that three departments – languages, philosophy and electronic engineering – are about to close.
Who needs those things anyway?
When a socialist educational system collapses, what’s the alternative? The free market.
For Deiriana, it’s back to staying at home, where her family is discussing another big change. Unable to put enough food on the table, her father is thinking of going to Peru to look for work.
“At least maybe that way we can pay for private schools where teachers, I imagine, are being paid better and given incentives to stay?” Blanco said. “I don’t know.”