Let’s forget about the current Government if we may for a few minutes or for the full post if you may. How do you even start to solve Venezuela’s problems?
Well, I have always believed that you start with education, follow it up with investments for job creation, so that those that you have educated can be employed.
Somehow in Venezuela, people always want to start backwards, they want to put more money into higher education than elementary school education. Why? I truly don’t know, it may just be that in 1958 there were only 10,000 university students and the “leaders” of the country have always been either envious or those that have those degrees or they believe they could be much better if they had them. Who knows? But if you want democracy, you emphasize education from the bottom up, give everyone as much of an equal chance as possible and build it from there.
To me, the educational problem can be reduced to three aspects: Extending schooling to the highest number of students possible, reducing school desertion and increasing the quality of education.
Unfortunately, politicians tend to think only of the first factor, how to extend to schooling to the largest segment of the population. However, as has been shown before in this blog the levels of school registration in Venezuela are adequate and the problems of desertion and the quality of education are more important. In fact, at one point in my life I collaborated with Cenamec, an institution I don’t even know if it even exists today which, worked on improving the quality of science teaching by working on the teachers of science to improve the quality and organize the various science olympiads in Venezuela.
This criticism is not aimed at the current administration, this has been the case for at last 29 years, but the thinking has changed little, the Chavez administration appears ready now to create a whole bunch of new universities (17?) without having a clear idea of why they are needed or what they will do with them. It appears to be simply an effort to develop new infrastructure without having a clear idea of what they will do with it, what careers to emphasize or even who is going to teach in these new universities. It’s as if they were building sports stadiums, without having an idea of what they will do with them.
All of this comes to mind because a report recently came out showing that the Academic Aptitude Test being used to select university students gave frightening results. The test, given every year to decide which students are admitted to the country’s public universities is really not simply an aptitude test, as it looks to measure, at least partially, the knowledge acquired in the five years of high school in the Venezuelan educational system.
The test consists of 70 questions, 30 in the area of reading and comprehension, while 40 were in mathematical reasoning.
Out of the 320,000 students aspiring to enter universities, the averga escore was 8 correct questions out of the 70 asked, a scant 11.4% of the questions answered correctly by the students.
If this were not frightening enough, in three states, the average was not even one correct answer out of the 40 math questions, while in four states students did not manage to answer correctly even 5 of the 30 questions of the language part. Such horrible results are not new. In fact, this year seven different tests were created in order to test whether the problem involved the questions rather than the students. but unfortunately, there was little statistical difference between the results of the seven different tests.
The table in the report in the link has some averages for some states, but the clear statement made that those that administer the test is that the problem lies in the deficiencies the students have and not on the tests. In some of these states, students barely managed to answers 10 out of the 70 questions correctly, a dismal record by any standard.
Like everything in Venezuela, Chavez wants the test to be eliminated, trying to solve the problem at the end result, rather than at the root. Thus, if we combine easier standards, educational deficiencies and few jobs for university graduates, all that is being done is creating a lot of frustrations for the students and not really improving education in Venezuela.
Which is the only thing we really need.
(Thanks G. S. B. for the tip)