The country’s education system is seriously threatened by the dictatorship which, far from seeking solutions, is keeping this important sector of the country inagony which is threatening a general strike, as some of its representatives have said at the ordinary session of the National Assembly which debated this Tuesday the situation of the country’s educators in connection with the commemoration of Teachers’ Day.
The debate was initiated by Deputy Nirma Guarulla, who indicated that January 15th, which is commemorated as Teachers’ Day, should be one of joy and celebration, but unfortunately educators cannot be happy because they are very poorly paid, they do not have enough to eat, neither to pay for transportation nor medicine, because they are paid starvation and misery wages.
“I congratulate the teachers, especially the indigenous teachers, who today fight in the streets for their salary claims and for quality education. A struggle that we must not give up, that we must do together, uniting our efforts”.
Deputy Guarulla asked President Juan Guaidó to allow representatives of the education sector to intervene in this debate on the situation of the education sector. In this sense, Professor Franklin Pirones was given the right to speak and reminded that Teacher’s Day is commemorated on January 15th because on that date in 1932 during the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez, educators formed the Venezuelan Teachers’ Society to defend the labor rights of teachers and improve education in the country.
He said that today the teachers’ movement is facing one of the most acute crises in its history. “After 20 years of this anachronistic regime that completely destroyed the country’s institutions, we have an unprecedented educational crisis.”
He said that 70% of the students do not attend classes regularly, more than 15% are severely behind in school, more than one million children do not receive schooling, 50% of schools suffer from endemic diseases, there is malnutrition and school programs only arrive once a week.
Towards a general strike
While Professor Karina Molina stressed that it is necessary for the education sector to organize itself to confront this dictatorship. She recalled José Martí’s phrase: “As long as there are teachers on foot there will be no people on their knees”.
“If we continue with this dictatorship we will not have scientific, democratic education to defend. Here the struggle for demands must transcend political struggle, the teachers must take the lead in a whole series of actions and organize ourselves towards a general strike of the teachers and all the workers of the country to get rid of this dictatorship”.
For his part, Rene Zapata said that the protests should be articulated, that the entire workers’ movement should participate in them and paralyze the country once and for all and put an end to Maduro’s dictatorship.
The president of the Education Sub-Commission of the National Assembly, Lara Bolivia Suárez, intervened afterwards. She said that today teachers have nothing to celebrate and much to regret due to the crisis situation this sector is going through, as well as all Venezuelans.
She reiterated that in a country where there is no education, where the generations of the future are not formed, there is no progress, a country cannot be built: “We, the education workers, the deputies of the legitimate National Assembly, must join forces to continue fighting and to achieve the political change that will allow us to change the quality of education”.
She indicated that through the National Assembly and President Juan Guaidó we have the Plan País to get the education sector out of this acute crisis, with a democratic, participative and inclusive vision, where the teacher has a very important role because he or she is the trainer of future generations.
Congressman Luis Barragán stressed that teachers today do not receive any benefits, only a miserable salary.
He considers that universities are threatened with extinction by Maduro’s dictatorship, so I propose not to neglect the issue of university autonomy and defend it at all costs.
“We must combine the classroom with the street. We urge the parliament to hold the massive and simultaneous university elections before the deadline set by the dictatorship. Let’s have a civic experience in this great classroom of the future that is Venezuela”.
In his speech, Congressman Romny Flores said that classrooms in Venezuela are in mourning because the country is suffering from a serious educational crisis. He said that the quality of education is abysmal because one out of every three third grade students cannot read, one out of every 10 students is at the acceptable level in math, two out of every five students is below the acceptable level in reading and writing.
He spoke of the public service crises in schools and in the homes of most students and teachers, so that dropouts and teachers are increasing. This, coupled with the hunger wages of educators.
Finally, the deputy Amelia Belisario intervened in the debate, saying that Venezuelan teachers are very brave because this regime wants them to stop giving mathematics or literature, to be “(objects of) pity, but you have instead gone out into the streets to give lessons of valor, courage and dignity.
She said that educators are not only fighting for their salary which are hunger wages, but for the quality of education because they want a country of grouth and progress for them and their children.
“They have understood that deep political change is the only thing that can lead them to get the demands they are making today.”