Mothers step in as teachers after Venezuela exodus

World Today

Venezuelans have learned to survive with shortages of water, food, and medicine.

Now a group of volunteer mothers is working to help with a critical shortage of teachers.

As more professionals leave Venezuela, there are fewer to help educate the next generation.

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas reports from Caracas.

Early in the morning at the Virgen Nina primary school located in the Caracas slum of Catia, some mothers arrive to drop off their children while other mothers stay at the school.

Venezuela’s historic exodus has led to a major teacher shortage across the country. Eleven teachers have left their positions at a local Catholic school.

These mothers are now teaching hundreds of children between the ages of six and 12.

“I had no idea on how much I would love teaching, I did it for my children, I wasn’t a teacher before I came here and now it’s become a passion of mine, something I love doing,” said Maria Carmona a teacher.

The mothers initially stepped in to provide coverage for a day or two for school staff when teachers were out sick. Now some are assigned to teach for an entire school year.

“When I used to bring my daughter to her classroom a year ago it was painful to see there wasn’t anyone who could teach her. I understand most teachers are leaving because of the economic crisis, but our children must learn so I became their teacher,” said Marbelis Padron a teacher.

The volunteers are teaching subjects ranging from geography to mathematics. They are being trained to develop a curriculum plan and deal with challenges they may face in the classroom.

The Venezuelan Teachers’ Association warned that out of 860,000 teachers registered in Venezuela’s education ministry, in the last three years 172,000 left their classrooms, the reasons given they left the country or simply stop going.

Teachers in Venezuela get paid the equivalent of just $8 a month, enough to buy a kilo of pasta and some eggs.

Noelia Paez, the director of the Virgen Nina School for the last four decades said she has no choice.

“Having teachers with college degrees will be ideal, and we are looking for them, but while we search, volunteer mothers continue to help, they are the best decision we’ve made,” said Noelia Paez the director at Virgen Nina school.

Having these mothers teach classes started as a novel experiment. Now the school couldn’t run without them.