Minister of Higher Education
According to a statement made by Venezuela Minister of Higher Education, Yadira Córdova, on Monday, the Venezuelan government has ratified its desire to dialogue with university students participating in a hunger strike as part of demands for budget increases for universities.
“The education sector is where the Bolivarian revolution has had most achievements, which shows that there has been a deep concern and concrete actions regarding education,” the minister said.
“Proof of this is the fact that Venezuela was recognized by UNESCO in late 2010 as having second-highest university enrollment in Latin America and fifth highest in the world,” she said.
Additionally, Córdova said that a higher budget was allocated to autonomous universities than to other universities that report directly to the Ministry of Higher Education, since their student population is four times higher.
Córdova said that although university budgets have not been reduced, they have kept stable.
“The more the number of universities and students increase, the more demands increase, and the government is aware of that and has been studying it.” Additionally, she said that the government has requested information to university authorities and in several cases they have show inconsistencies.
“Nevertheless, we have been considerate enough because we understand that the administrative situation is very complex inside the universities, not only for the lack of resources but for the management models that fell behind,” said the minister.
Córdova said that a hunger strike by students was unnecessary to make requests, “since we are studying the requests with the responsibility we have with education.”
Working groups have been created with different sectors of higher education, said the minister. Córdova also revealed that when the hunger strike started, government representatives were meeting in a working group with members of the University of Los Andes (ULA), one of the institutions at which the protests began.
“While we (the government) have been willing to dialogue, the strikers and those who support them have shown that they had a plan independently from the dialogue we were having,” she emphasized.
The Venezuelan universities have had different problems over the last 20 years. In fact, the government started to pay accumulated debts to workers dating back to the 1970s, and although not all of them have been paid yet, “it doesn’t mean that the government has forgotten about that debt,” said Córdova.
AVN/ Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / March 14, 2011