Friday, June 02, 2006

Devaluing Education In Venezuela by Isabel Lara

Dear Journalists,
Attached below please find letter to the editor of The Washington Post written by Isabel Lara. Miss Lara has grown up in a diplomatic world and has had direct exposure to political events.


Maru Angarita

Devaluing Education In Venezuela
Friday, June 2, 2006; Page A18
To say that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is educating the masses "in his image" is an understatement [news story, May 25]. He is using higher education as a tool for ideological manipulation and brainwashing.
Public education has been free in Venezuela since 1870. Mr. Chavez himself enjoyed the benefit of free education during Venezuela's previous oil bonanza, when the most prestigious academic institutions in the country -- Simon Bolivar University and Central University of Venezuela -- were not only free of charge but also free of government ideological intervention.
The first time I heard Mr. Chavez speak was at a conference at Simon Bolivar University after he had been freed from jail following an attempt to topple the democratically elected president. I wonder if a teacher at the new Bolivarian University of Venezuela today could invite or take on as a student a Venezuelan citizen who signed the petition against Mr. Chavez.
The Chavez government is spending millions on this new university, while choking Venezuela's established universities, not paying professors their salaries and owing retired professors their pensions. The article cited the case of a student who was not able to pass the entrance exams at Central University but now is studying at Bolivarian University. Doing away with entrance exams so that everybody can have access to higher education without the imperialistic obstacle of a standardized test or even good grades is one of Mr. Chavez's ideas. The result will be a college degree that is worthless. Who wants to hire a doctor or a lawyer who does not meet basic academic requirements?

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