CARACAS (Reuters) – The Venezuelan government has released dozens of new textbooks that glorify the late President Hugo Chavez and demean his opponents, infuriating opposition critics who see them as part of a campaign to indoctrinate schoolchildren. Originally introduced in mid-2011, textbooks have become a hot topic again amid a sweeping state-led overhaul of the education system that some believe could strengthen the ruling Socialist Party’s imprint in the country. the classrooms.
CARACAS (Reuters) – The Venezuelan government has released dozens of new textbooks that glorify the late President Hugo Chavez and demean his opponents, infuriating opposition critics who see them as part of a campaign to indoctrinate schoolchildren.
Originally introduced in mid-2011, textbooks have become a hot topic again amid a sweeping state-led overhaul of the education system that some say could strengthen the ruling Socialist Party’s footprint in the country. the classrooms.
“The government has gone to great lengths to redefine historical events with an ideological bent, and these books represent that intention,” said Juan Maragall, education secretary in opposition-led Miranda state. âThe teachers are worried.
The books describe Chavez as the man who freed Venezuela from tyranny, sometimes making him appear more important than the 19th-century founding father, Simon Bolivar. Ironically, Bolivar was the inspiration for Chavez’s so-called socialist revolution.
The books feature a 2002 coup that briefly overthrew Chavez as a Washington-planned insurgency while downplaying the role of massive opposition protests in this deeply divided country.
And they generally despise the mainstream political parties that are the ancestors of today’s opposition movement, using the two administrations that preceded Chavez in power as examples to define the term “in decline.”
State officials argue that the textbooks encourage original thinking and critical questioning of the capitalist world order led by the United States. They insist that the biggest problem is the increase in the number of children in school while Chavez was in power.
The government has distributed 42 million copies of the textbooks that make up the “Bicentennial Collection”, named in honor of Venezuela’s two centuries of independence.
Books were originally supposed to be compulsory, but officials moved away from that after furious opposition to the idea. Yet they are widely used because they are free, reaching around 6 million children in 80 percent of schools nationwide.
Opposition protesters who staged three months of protests to demand the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro have staged numerous marches against what they say is the rewriting of history and the indoctrination of students.
Some even set certain books on fire, drawing fierce scolding from officials who compared it to the Nazi-era book burning.
The textbooks frequently mention Chavez’s social programs that range from free health services to veterinary care. The books often highlight the advantages of government-subsidized stores over their private sector counterparts.
“Thanks to the ‘My Well-Equipped Home’ program, Juanita bought a 32-inch television and a 12-kg washing machine for a total of 3,555 bolivars,” reads a math book for nine-year-olds .
âIf she had bought these products in a store, she would have paid 25% more for the television and a third more for the washing machine. What conclusions can we draw by comparing prices from one place to another?
Maryann Hanson, the former education minister who oversaw the development of the books, said the Juanita-type examples are “simple and relevant to the realities of our boys and girls.”
“(They) seek to foment free thought, emancipation,” she added.
The opposition’s backlash has strayed into inaccurate critiques, helping the government dismiss its critics as a disconnected elite.
Some have wrongly claimed that the books say Bolivar, Venezuela’s founding father and Chavez hero, had a Cuban nanny. Others insisted that some books contain the words âguns are goodâ.
Reuters did not find this information in the books it examined.
“These are criticisms based on lies, we are not going to be provoked,” said Education Minister Hector Rodriguez, although he acknowledged that the texts can be improved.
Officials say the education debate should focus on expanded access to education during the Chavez era, including a 16 percentage point increase in enrollment.
But the books leave little doubt as to their general inspiration – each page’s first page begins with the words “Hugo Chavez: Supreme Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution”.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; writing by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Kieran Murray)
This story was not edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto feed.