What happens in a country when the search for food becomes a full time job? The answer is that everything else begins to fall apart. Case in point, the school system in Venezuela. As teachers are forced to spend all day or night in long lines hoping to get a small amount of food for their own families, they stop showing up for work. The older children are big enough to wait in lines as well so they drop out. Add to that the rolling blackouts and legitimate fears for their security and it’s not hard to see why the system is falling apart. The Associated Press reports:
Maria Arias slipped her notebooks into her backpack, scrounged for a banana to share with her brother and sister, and set off for high school through narrow streets so violent taxis will not come here for any price. She hoped at least one of her teachers would show up.
But her 7 a.m. art class was canceled when the instructor called in sick. History class was suspended. There was no gym class because the coach had been shot dead weeks earlier. And in the afternoon, her Spanish teacher collected homework and then sent the students home to meet a gang-imposed curfew.
“It’s a trap,” the slight 14-year-old with pink lipstick complained as she sat in the shade of a picked-over mango tree at the school’s entrance. “You risk your life to be here and end up waiting around for hours doing nothing. But you have to keep coming because it’s the only way out.”
Venezuelan children are reportedly already missing 40% of class time this year. With no sign that the political stalemate between the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and the opposition in the Assembly will be resolved anytime soon, the shortages and thus the situation in the schools is likely to continue to get worse. That will ensure the misery of end stage socialism haunts some of these students for years to come.