It’s no secret that Venezuela is living a nightmare right now, dealing with extensive crime, unbearable violence, and a devastating economic collapse. Meanwhile, its schools are suffering.
Venezuela’s education system used to be among the best in South America. Former President Hugo Chavez made the school systems a high priority, using the rise in oil prices to train new teachers and hand out free laptops. However, in the past few years, that progress has all but vanished.
Now that the price of oil has fallen and brought the economy down with it, the school system is failing right alongside it. Ahead, see photos of what it’s like to attend schools in the economic nightmare that is Venezuela.
School days are often being canceled due to a lack of electricity, food, and water. Caracas Public High School, pictured below, often must close down for weeks at a time.
Annual dropout rates have doubled since 2011. Classrooms are understaffed, and more than one-quarter of teenagers are not even enrolled in any type of school.
Parents are estimating that Venezuelan children are missing an average of 40% of class time due to school days being canceled.
Students who come to class prepared with the right supplies often leave with their notebooks untouched.
Teachers are often forced to miss class because they’re waiting in long food lines for their own families, leaving children waiting in mostly empty classrooms.
The school director at Caracas Public High School has even asked nearby supermarkets to allow teachers to move to the front of the food lines so that they can get to school on time, but nothing seems to change.
Teachers have been caught and are disciplined for exchanging a passing grade for food, such as milk and flour.
Another reason for canceled school days is that the cafeteria simply doesn’t have food to serve.
Parents are unable to see how their child is doing because the schools lack the supplies to print report cards.
Pictured below are 30,000 unopened textbooks that were delivered by the government at the beginning of the school year. The books remain unopened because teachers decided they were “too full of pro-socialist propaganda to use,” according to the Associated Press.
Crime and violence is also having a huge effect on the school systems. Teachers have been shot, murdered, or have randomly gone missing for weeks at a time. Although many of the schools are gated, looters still find their way in. Students fear going to school, as they witness multiple crimes everyday.
Some schools lock the gates to their main entrances every day, which for some students makes it feel like a prison. For others, having the school gated feels like extra protection, which takes away some of the fear of being on the streets in a country that is now among the most violent and lawless in the world.