After years of fighting to reform education in Venezuela at the primary and secondary levels, teachers in Venezuela finally received the pay they deserved.

This month, the government gave Venezuelan teachers  a 15 percent increase to their salaries, totaling a 345 percent increase since the start of 2017.

Following several negotiations between the Venezuelan president and the Venezuelan Teachers’ Federation (FMV), public school teachers were given proper wages for their work. The FMV leader stated that the wage increases acted as a “call for the defense of the right to education, from those who want to sabotage it for political reasons.”

In addition to the wage increase, the government set aside funds that would go toward paying pension benefits for 15,000 teachers.

The wage increase was intended to not only be an investment in the teachers but the education system itself. With these improved wages, now 96 percent of the Venezuelan population can read and write, making Venezuela one of the most literate countries in the world.

However, education in Venezuela didn’t always prosper. The country was previously overextended and underfunded, with about 20 percent of children lacking a formal education. The Ministry of Education of Venezuela and Venezuelan government collaborated to adapt the curriculum, expand compulsory education and upgrade teacher qualifications in order to address the problem of low enrollment.

As a result, the government established the Bolivarian University system in 2003, whose design encompassed democratizing access to higher education and creating the Bolivarian Missions Social Outreach program. The program focuses on literacy programs and university preparation programs.

Later in 2008, five years after President Chavez launched his outreach program that enrolled nearly 2.5 million children, education in Venezuela came to be considered among the highest in the region. The literacy rate rested around 93.8 percent for males and 93.1 percent for females.

Although the total literacy rate increased only by three percent since the initial wage increases, those increases have helped reform curriculum, teacher training and increased enrollment. These changes helped to significantly improve education in Venezuela overall.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

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President Obama’s push to increase the national minimum wage to $9.00 has stirred up plenty of conversations lately. This has been a very divisive issue over which party lines are clearly drawn. Politicians, news anchors, lobbyists, and economists have been debating the importance of the possible change that $1.75 could make here at home. Here in my home state of Ohio, the increase would be $1.30. But, what could that bit of money do elsewhere?

The World Bank found that in 2008 about 1.4 billion people in the developing world depended on a cost of living of less than $1.25 and set this amount as the definitive worldwide poverty line. Roughly one in every four inhabitants of any given developing country is estimated to fall under this category. While that number has been dropping steadily over the past decade, it is still a frighteningly high number. So, what can you get for $1.25?

In Kenya your $1.25 could buy you:
-2 0.33 liter bottles of Coca-cola
-2 loaves of bread
-1 liter of gasoline

But forget luxury items like a dozen eggs, that run at a market low of $1.44. And with the cheapest transportation available you’d better need no more than two buses to get where you’re going since they will cost you $0.50 each way, and that’s a day without any food cost at all. You may think that the American dollar would buy more abroad but it is important to remember that the $1.25 line used to mark poverty level is based on the purchase power parity, or the relative price that the same grouping of goods would cost in different markets. Even with this in mind, my $1.79 cup of coffee that I’m drinking now would be more than unattainable for a person living below the poverty level.

So, keep in mind that $1.25 can make a difference. Thankfully, the number of people living in poverty is decreasing each year. With great effort, we can keep that trend going.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: NumbeoWorld Bank
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