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by J.G. Martinez
Some things of necessity have to take a back seat during disaster. Is education during an economic collapse one of them? I don’t think so. Not entirely, anyway. Sure, you still have to primarily focus on food, water, shelter, and safety, but the fact is, you don’t know how long this disaster is going to last.
Do you want your children to have zero education for multiple years? Probably not. Those with kids probably wondered what would happen to their kids’ education after the 2020 societal changes. You’re not alone. I wondered such too.
Please allow me to explain a little bit for those who haven’t followed my personal story. I left Venezuela because of the obvious issues. 2016-2020 were terrible years. Although my small hometown didn’t experience scarcity as bad as other places – because of the proximity to the capital city – things were different in the modest-sized city I was living in over to the east. There, we were taking a beating.
Inflation eventually wrecked the currency and living with a salary became impossible by the time I decided to escape to Ecuador. In hindsight, I should have chosen a better destination. It’s a popular joke around here to say that migrating throughout South America is like changing bedrooms in the Titanic. Because it’s true.
Ecuador was not a good choice back then. Migrants were getting beat up.
The Titanic was still sinking
My main concern in the city we were living was crime. A few kids were express-kidnapped while at my son’s school, and for me, this was the final breaking point. For those unaware, express kidnapping is when the kidnappers call you, forcing you to do a kid-for-money exchange in a ghetto so violent not even the police are willing to enter.
I took my son out of school. Middle Eastern children were a hot score for a kidnapper, as migrants from these nations are usually very wealthy. In Ecuador, this means they have kitchen appliances and home furniture. I knew that both my son’s name (a composed name unlike other South American names) and his skin color could easily cause him to be mistaken for a Middle Easterner.
And I wasn’t going to risk that
He’s been out of school since then, we’ve since moved back to Venezuela, and I’ve been his chief source of education ever since.
Venezuelan laws are pretty lame regarding homeschooling. They don’t even mention it. Even worse, they delegate to the State the responsibility to educate the citizens. In essence, you lose control over what your kid is taught.
Right after our time in Ecuador, I decided we needed to continue traveling. So, we went to Peru. I quickly found we had exchanged yet another room on the Titanic. The situation wasn’t good there either. Political problems made it impossible to get a good job in my area of expertise.
Well, having gone to a couple of countries in South America I could say, it’s more or less the same. Again, South America is the Titanic.
While the public school system is not as bad in Venezuela – kids still learn math – the problem is the communist indoctrination. Teachers are forced to talk about “revolutionary leaders” as if they are real-life heroes (insert puke emoji here). My personal opinion is that these schools won’t last long enough for those kids to admire them as they hope. Something is going to happen.
But how were things before the pandemic in public schools?
Venezuelan schools have always paid their teachers abysmally. This is one of the worst diseases throughout most of the Western world, if you ask me. Those who teach children have salaries that don’t attract top talent. Perhaps the exceptions to this are Germany and France, but otherwise, I see the same malady everywhere.
This is an alarming issue, and particularly in Europe, a path is being followed which is very dangerous. (Forgive the link being in Spanish.)
I feel like this is a particularly sensitive issue. My own mother is a direct witness of how Venezuela’s educational system went from being a very effective educational program in the mid-70s to an incomprehensible rigmarole of objectives and sub-objectives with ambiguous definitions and goals.
A teacher’s paperwork multiplied thrice and that trend was sustained – and even increased – in the years to come. Nowadays, with the leftist twist, it’s even worse. Perhaps I can paint you a picture of it…
Schools receive special fees for water, telephone, and power bills. Not every school has internet service, yet despite this, an effort was made to supply students with internet-dependent tools like tablets and Chromebooks. These, of course, were quickly absorbed by the black market.
The reality is, in Venezuela school teachers are a diminishing labor force. Even back in 2015, there was a huge deficit of qualified professionals. Back then, massive teachers migration was a fact. This is a labor force group that, traditionally, was not one with a large inclination to migrate.
No teachers, no classes
So many teachers fled the country, in fact, that Venezuela began offering students an “exoneration” of very important matters like physics and chemistry. Why? Because there were no more physics and chemistry teachers. Yes, I know some of us never liked them in the first place (I learned to love them in college) but they’re necessary. How are you going to prepare a solution in a hurry if you don’t know the difference between milliliters or ounces?
The results of the research indicate that replacing well-prepared personnel is increasingly hard. Most of the newer graduates of our school system are now mediocre and have low standards. Mind you, forcing the teachers to communicate principles of a foreign ideological base entirely contrary to the ethics and values they had was not helpful. This was the last straw on the camel’s back, and thousands preferred to flee rather than collaborate with a “system” that had the end goal of enslaving, societal control, and subjugation of the human being.
The poor salaries wiped out any motivation for those more prepared to exert their vocation. A huge percentage of this labor force migrated, and those who stayed put only did so because for some reason they couldn’t leave. A teacher without the money to fill out the paperwork, or who is taking care of an elderly parent is common.
Yet this is interesting: private education is still working (more or less). Pricing is unregulated, and these schools charge in US dollars – cash, of course. Without this, they couldn’t work. A lot of teachers have been forced to work part-time in some other areas besides their profession. The dropouts, as it was to be expected, have been massive. Of course, COVID didn’t do anything else but make a bad situation much worse.
What are we doing with our kids nowadays?
The private market – freedom – is the solution to problems caused by state-run schools
Small private schools have flourished in the entire country, as a means to supply a good quality education instead of the mediocrity of the public institutions. I find it quite interesting that the same thing happened in Peru. Albeit I don’t have a clue about how Peruvian public schools are (we were not able to enroll our kid because allegedly there was not “space” in those places we went to), but my understanding is that the same phenomenon has happened there as well.
Small, private schools are everywhere, working in old rented houses or all sort of buildings and adapted to host a few classrooms, and charging small money but the quality of the education is good. And with just 7 -10 kids in the classroom, much more customized attention can be achieved, which is not bad at all neither.
I have plenty of time these days to dedicate attention to my son, and our relationship has always been incredibly rich. After coming back to Venezuela though his mood changed drastically. When we were living in that one-bedroom apartment in Lima and cooking on the rooftop of the building, he felt fantastic and spent two or three hours a day happily with the school tasks I assigned him. It was there he learned math to a slightly more advanced state than the rest of his friends, as well as some other stuff that he is going to need in high school in the near future.
I feel blessed, though, because of my unconventional education. Without my father being a wealthy cattle farmer, nor any goodies to inherit, I knew that unless I would study and get my stuff together to face life by myself, I was not going to make it. I prepared, I planned, and I worked hard. Coming from a public high school, it was not easy to face the first year of math in a public university. But I worked much harder than ever in my life, and succeeded.
Home education during an economic collapse
If you live in the US, I’d suggest you use the advantages which homeschooling provides. I know this is a huge decision for a family. You must have the means and time to support your children in their education. For a little orientation about how to start, go here. I have my own observations regarding our children’s education. Depending on the age of your kid (and your own ability/skills/capabilities to transmit knowledge) this should be a task that we parents must add to our already demanding responsibilities.
I was blessed with the ability to understand math, not because I found them easy, but instead because I worked for it. I made a huge effort, and most importantly, I learned how to learn. After my consciousness was cracked open, and my abstract thinking was unleashed, boy, it was a whole new world. I just needed the time to practice my algebra to pass the exams. And it worked.
Many good teachers have left Venezuela, it’s true. But we have to take advantage of whatever we have available. The teacher sends us the activities by e-mail, and these have to be filtered by me before my kid starts to work on them. One of our goals of coming back was to find as good of an education as was possible here. Peruvian schools were large schools, with dozens of kids in each class, and I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving our only child in an unknown country where we Venezuelans are not only not welcome, but where the law wouldn’t protect us as well. Thanks, but no thanks.
Find ways to embrace the private market
My son has already been in class for a few days, and he now wakes up quite early, eager to go with his friends. It’s a wonderful feeling to know he loves going to school. Sure, maybe there aren’t 50” touchscreens as blackboards (yet) but the quality of the programs are superb. Mind you, this is not your standard public Venezuelan school, but rather a small private institution, with a quite educated director holding an impressive 4th level education. And truly I love my kid being there, even though I have to pay a small fee.
Dedicating time to perfect our children’s skills and learning when this in-house learning ends, is a plus. We Latin people are quite close to our children. Spending time with them is valuable and appreciated. Maybe our classes don’t use awesome technological advances these days. But for basic primary school stuff, you don’t need it that much. Kids very likely will learn IT on their own.
What are your thoughts on educating your children during an economic collapse? Is it still necessary? If so, how do you go about it? Let us know in the comments below!
Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela.
Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to give it a try to homestead in the mountains, and make a living as best as possible. But this time in his own land, and surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, with all the gear and equipment collected, as the initial plan was.