Venezuela declared ‘free of illiteracy’
Published Nov 5, 2005 10:40 PM
On Oct. 28 Venezuela declared it is now a
“Territory Free of Illiteracy.” The Bolivarian government is pushing
ahead with policies and measures to raise its population from the misery and
ignorance that prevailed for decades, despite Wash ington’s mounting
hostilities against Venezuela and particularly against its president, Hugo
Chávez, including a thoroughly negative media campaign.
guidelines of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Orga
nization (UNESCO) say that a territory must have less than 4 percent illiteracy
in order to declare it is free of illiteracy. In the last two years, Venezuela
has lowered illiteracy to less than 1 percent by teaching close to 1.5 million
people how to read.
Venezuela accomplished this tremendous educational
leap forward with the generous and expert help of Revolutionary Cuba and its
program, “Yo sí puedo” (“Yes, I can”). Not
surprisingly, these are the only two countries in Latin America to have won the
status of “illiteracy free.”
On the day of the announcement,
celebrated joyously all over Venezuela, Presi dent Chávez gave special
recognition to the people who had overcome illiteracy through participation in
the Robinson Mission, stating that, “Democracy must be practiced with a
Chávez specially highlighted and expres sed
gratitude to Cuba and its President Fidel Castro, stating that even though
Venezuela had been trying since 2000 to erase illiteracy, it was not until they
used the Cuban method that they were able to succeed. “Without Cuba, the
Robinson Mission would have been impossible,” said the Venezuelan
Reaching Indigenous communities
Education Minister Aristó bulo Istúriz said that the program had
placed great emphasis on reaching nomadic Indigenous communities.
added, “The Robinson Mission permitted people with visual problems to
learn the Braille method, and for those who could not hear, we taught them
through sign language, that is, this process involved everybody
Education and especially teaching reading is an area where
the United States lags way behind Cuba and Venezuela. The U.S. government could
learn a great deal from countries it deems to be “the
The website of the U.S. Department of Education reports on
the grim findings of a 1993 study on literacy in the U.S. Results are as yet
unavailable from another study conducted in 2003.
make it clear: illiteracy is on the increase in the United States. The Office of
Technology Assessment (OTA), an analytical arm of the U.S. Congress, stated in a
“Standards and requirements for literacy have increased
over time and a large number of adults need to improve their literacy skills.
OTA finds that at least 35 million adults have difficulty with common literacy
tasks. Although many of these adults can read at rudimentary levels, they need
higher levels of literacy to function effectively in society, to find
employment, or to be trained for new jobs as the workplace changes.... Fewer
than 10 percent of the population in need is being reached.’”
Bolivia, the poorest country in the region, and the Dominican Republic may soon
join Cuba and Venezuela in eradicating illiteracy, probably before the U.S.
does. On Oct. 28, the Venezuelans announ ced that the Robinson Mission and the
“Yes, I can” method will be used in these two poor countries.
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