UNICEF just published its annual report on the state of childhood around the globe. Venezuela fails to shine.
A big difference is that underprivileged boys in our country are facing much tougher chances than girls. It’s usually the other way around.
El Nacional decided to tell the story of one of these boys: 7-year old Álvaro, living in La Vega, a Caracas slum. Thanks to a scholarship given by Proniño, a foundation supported by Telefónica, he can carry on with his studies. When he didn’t find a place in public and private schools, he got one in a school of the Catholic Education Association. Even if he had to repeat third grade, he’s committed to moving forward.
However, he’s getting closer to high school. Many of the kids who finish elementary school don’t make it to the next level. Just in Caracas public schools, the drop-out rate reaches almost 40%, an astonishing figure. Many of the dropouts end up involved in crime and make up a hugely disproportionate share of victims (and perpetrators) of violence.
Meanwhile, the situation of our special education is more urgent. A new reform has been announced by the “always working” Education Minister, Maryann Hanson. Her plans could force kids with special needs to be mainstreamed into regular schools without prior evaluation and attention by Child Development Centers. Some groups of parents and teachers are uncertain about this, while others are organizing themselves to protest.
The obstacles that not just special children, but all children have to face to get a decent education in Venezuela are numerous. But thanks to kids like Álvaro there’s still hope. In the article, he told the newspaper journalist about his plans for the future:
“I want to finish school until I hit beige (refering to the shirt color used for the final two-years of high school). Then I want to be a lawyer. Lawyers look pretty good.”
Let’s hope Álvaro can make that dream come true. And that he’s not the only one who does.