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Posts Tagged ‘education’

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Want to study in Venezuela and learn some Spanish? Since you can’t find everything on the internet, we recommend traveling to Venezuela. We promise you won’t find an opportunity like this one anywhere else.

Global Exchange provides a unique opportunity to English-speaking students to get to know Venezuela in a beautiful town located at the foot of Andes.  Mérida is a popular tourist destination and home to the Universidad de Los Andes.

The fall and spring semester academic programs are designed to increase students’ knowledge of contemporary Venezuelan society. The goal is to create links and build bridges between advocates of social justice in the global North and like-minded people in Latin America. Global’s motto is “building people to people ties”, and you’ll leave Venezuela with lots of new friends.

The 12-week program is built around intensive Spanish language training, essential for anyone serious about getting to know the people of the patria querida. Courses focus on Venezuelan history, culture, and politics. You can earn 15 undergraduate or graduate credits while engaging with contemporary and alternative development issues inside and outside the classroom.

Frequent exchanges with community leaders involved in social change on the ground make this a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The people at Global Exchange have worked within the communities of Mérida for many years. They know the terrain, and can’t wait to show you around!

Here’s the link to learn more.

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Intercultural education will soon become a reality in Venezuela, if Professor Angela Diaz has anything to do with it.

She spoke at at a public event today in Washington sponsored by TransAfrica Forum. Diaz has been making her way around the U.S. capital,  speaking at Howard University and meeting Members of Congress to discuss the Afro-Venezuelan experience.

Diaz is a member of the Network of Afro-Venezuelan Organizations (La Red de Organizaciones Afrovenezolanas), has worked tirelessly over the past decade to help create a more inclusive education system. Like the U.S., Afro-descendants and Indigenous peoples in Venezuela have been too often distorted or omitted from public school curricula. Due to the work of people like Diaz, Venezuelan students will learn about all the ethnic groups that built the South American continent.

The new inclusive curriculum has been implemented in 17 states so far. Part of the process involves inviting community elders into the schools to teach.  In one school, grandparents taught students how to make a fish recipe, which is stuffed in a plantain leaf. Fish is a vital resource for residents along the Caribbean coast, many of whom identify as Afro-Venezuelan. Along with the recipe, the children learned about history, culture, art, and the environment. Sharing ancestral knowledge is the key to transmitting what has been left out of the history books.

Diaz emphasized that students are inspired when they can see themselves and their communities represented in their lessons. See more of Professor Diaz’s work with Fundación Curduvare.

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Venezuela’s successful state-funded youth music education program, “El Sistema,” continues to have an impact abroad. Most recently, it inspired a similar initiative by the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Michigan. Their program, called “String Team,” offers affordable group classes in stringed instruments to elementary school students.

Venezuela’s “El Sistema” has reached about a quarter of a million young people in poor areas and produced classical music stars such as Gustavo Dudamel. Like “El Sistema,” the  “String Team” is about getting young people to learn and improve their lives through music. Read more here. In case you missed it, don’t forget to check out the documentary about “El Sistema” on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

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copia-de-mision-sucre-1UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics says that Venezuela has the second-highest rate of university enrollment in Latin America. At 83% enrollment, Venezuela is second only to Cuba, and far above the regional average of just 30%, Radio Nacional de Venezuela reports.

To keep up the momentum, Venezuela is opening several new institutions of higher education this year.

Last Tuesday, President Chavez announced that the following five new public universities would soon open their doors: The University of Hydrocarbons, National University of Security Studies, University of the Peoples of the South, School of Telecommunications and Computer Science, and University Institute of Civil Aviation.

Venezuela’s National Council of Universities has also approved 22 new majors in everything ranging from tourism to nursing to petroleum and sugar engineering.

Much of the progress made on education in Venezuela can be attributed to the country’s social missions, which have helped change the lives of millions of citizens. “Mission Alma Mater” builds new universities and learning spaces to meet the needs of the increasing number of students seeking higher education. “Mission Sucre” has greatly expanded the country’s higher education system, with the goal of granting universal access to public universities.

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After all the buzz about Venezuela’s music education program, “El Sistema,” here is something new and different: teachers from England are coming to Caracas to witness the successes of Venezuela’s free “Bolivarian” schools.

The BBC reports on the “Connecting Classrooms” initiative that provides an exchange program for instructors from Britain and Venezuela.

Here is what Steven Connors, a teacher from Hertfordshire, England, had to say about the Boliviarian schools:

Although they’re in tough parts of town, what we found was that the schools were serving their communities in the most amazing way. They were oases of calm and order where children are able to get that one life opportunity to get an education.

Another teacher, David Winters of London, said:

Where they are very strong is in the area of values, in instilling in their pupils the belief that when they grow up they must be better citizens and must not allow the situation which exists at the moment in Caracas to continue. They want the children to strive for a better future, and a better future will mean that the population in general is at less risk of crime and of criminality.

The Boliviarian school system now incorporates about 9 million Venezuelan students, from the elementary school level through university. It is part of the push to democratize access to education, and also an important part of government anti-poverty efforts. To read more, click here.

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Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on Gustavo Dudamel, the classical music conductor who — along with the state-funded music education “sistema” in Venezuela that he champions — is becoming muy famoso.

El Sistema takes children, often from circumstances of abject poverty, and teaches them to play instruments. According to most press reports, there are more than 250,000 children in El Sistema right now — its Web site cites 350,000 — playing in group classes and youth orchestras culminating in the Bolívar orchestra, which Dudamel will bring to Washington on April 6.

The Post credits Dudamel with “bringing a breath of fresh air to the familiar.” It also turns a critical eye to Dudamel’s family life, pressing him to explain why he refers to his musical endeavors as so many “wives.”

Does he extend this kind of morality to his real wife, the journalist and former dancer Eloísa Maturén? “No, no, no, no!” he said, laughing, and amended his description of the orchestras: “It’s polygamy, but in a beautiful way.”

So there you have it. ‘The Dude’ comes out on top again!

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Venezuela’s International Book Fair arrives in Caracas tomorrow. It has toured all 24 of the country’s states, and makes its final stop Friday in Parque Los Caobos.

The fourth annual event involves more than just the buying and selling of books — it also includes educational events and workshops on a wealth of topics, including science fiction writing, fantasy literature, and publishing alternative media. More than 400 writers and artists from 20 countries are participating, as well as 150 different publishers.

The International Book Fair celebrates the achievements of the many thousands of students and educators who helped make Venezuela an “illiteracy free territory” in 2003. Social programs in education have indeed increased the country’s demand for books.

The President of the National Book Center, Marisela Guevara, says the fair shows that Venezuela is becoming “a nation of readers.” Read more in Spanish here.

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