Critical shortages, runaway inflation, spiraling crime and widespread economic disaster are destroying the once-tolerable public school system in Venezuela thanks to the country’s perpetual Bolivarian socialist revolution.
The leftist government has canceled 16 days of school since December, reports the Associated Press.
Planned power outages have caused school to be canceled every Friday in the oil-rich economic basket case of a nation.
Children in Venezuela have missed 40 percent of class time this year, on average.
A national research group, Foundation Bengoa, says that about 25 percent of students in the socialist country have missed school because they are hungry.
According to the Venezuela Teacher’s Federation, up to 40 percent of teachers in the nation’s schools fail to show up to teach each day because they choose to stand in long lines for food instead.
“This country has abandoned its children,” Movement of Organized Parents spokeswoman Adelba Taffin told the Associated Press. “By the time we see the full consequences, there will be no way to put it right.”
The news agency found a student, 14-year-old Maria Arias, who detailed just how dire the education situation is.
Teachers call in sick all the time, Arias said. Classes get suspended arbitrarily. She doesn’t have an English class any longer. Instead, she has a two-hour break. Her sister has no math class. Her physical education class stopped meeting because the teacher was murdered in a hail of gang crossfire several weeks ago.
Administrators lock all the students into her school each day to protect them from armed robbers. This dangerous precaution doesn’t always work, though. Armed criminals still find their way into the school and rob students during the school day.
Some barren classrooms in the school — near a once-prosperous Caracas neighborhood — are used as bathrooms because there is no running water.
Some students at the school have fainted because they are so hungry, Arias told the AP.
One time, all the kids found themselves locked inside the school gates because the only employee with a key was nowhere to be found.
The passage to and from school is also fraught with danger. Murder, theft and angry vigilante mobs are routine sights on the streets of Caracas.
“You risk your life to be here and end up waiting around for hours doing nothing,” Arias told the news agency. “But you have to keep coming because it’s the only way out.”
Betty Cubillan, an accounting teacher at Arias’s school, said she tries to show up to teach as often as she can. It’s hard, though, because she only earns the equivalent of $30 each month and she has to obtain basic necessities for herself. Thus, she frequently chooses to bail on her students and stand in food lines.
“If I don’t line up, I don’t eat,” Cubillan told the Associated Press. “Who’s going to do it for me?”
The director of the school, Helena Porras, said she has requested that supermarkets allow teachers to move to the front of obscenely long food lines. Porras also noted that some teachers sell good grades for basic foodstuffs such as milk.
“When I was in school, they gave us lab coats and we experimented on rats,” school employees Rosa Ramirez reminisced about the days before socialist Hugo Chávez came to power.
“They fed us two meals a day,” Ramirez told the Associated Press.
Before he died, Chávez had spoken boldly about improving education for Venezuela’s 7 million public school students. He promised millions of free laptop computers.
Instead of material benefit, however, socialism has brought economic collapse.
The socialist country’s currency, the bolivar, has grown increasingly worthless. Venezuela’s leftist government strictly controls prices — which causes predictable shortages.
Runaway inflation — currently the highest on earth — and shortages of food, medicine and all kinds of goods plague Venezuela. Weeks-long power outages are a norm, particularly in rural areas.
The International Monetary Fund expects Venezuela’s economy to shrivel by 8 percent this year — continuing a painful 8-year trend of economic contractions.
In May, Venezuela was set to run out of beer. Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s current socialist president, responded by accusing Empresas Polar, the nation’s main beer supplier, of conspiring against the Venezuelan government and the country’s 30 million people. Maduro called the company’s closure “a serious crime.” He also threatened to seize the company. (RELATED: Socialist Venezuela Sucks So Bad It Has Run Out Of BEER)
In 2013, Sundecop, a Venezuelan state agency that enforces price controls, took over a toilet paper factory in response to nagging supply shortages. Bureaucrats said that the scarcity is a “violation of the right,” according to Reuters. Supporters of the government criticized crooked businessmen for hoarding toilet paper. (RELATED: Venezuela, Chicago Public Schools Face Toilet Paper Shortages)
Chávez, the socialist leader who brought socialism to Venezuela, was born into a working-class family and espoused Marxist-Leninist socialism yet managed to leave his daughter with a $4.2 billion fortune.