We woke up bright and early on Tuesday morning, July 9th, in anticipation of meeting with the Minister of Education. However, as was the case with all of our meetings during our time there, this was mainly dependent on luck. Meetings with anyone were dependent on the connections our guide had, if the person was available on short notice to meet, and how much time they had available. That morning, the Minister was unable to meet with us, which led us to Misión Robinson (Mission Robinson), which was close by.
We walked there planning on just taking a tour, but what we received was so much more.
As an educator, I took this trip not only to gain knowledge on what is actually happening politically in the country, but also to meet with other educators and students to see how the educational system operates in a country that has eradicated illiteracy since 2005. I had heard about the method to teach reading by combining numeracy and literacy skills and was curious to see how this method was implemented. I was also curious as to how educators incorporated the social movements of the country into their curriculum, if that was even done at all.
Within the country of Venezuela, Bolivarian missions operate for different reasons, but function as free social programs available to the public. These missions began under Hugo Chavez, and continue to operate under Nicolás Maduro. To learn more information about missions and their history, you can click here, here, or here (Spanish Source). In short, missions provide a variety of programs included but not limited to: adult literacy programs, free community health care, low-income housing construction, and subsidizing food and other consumer goods. We also heard from the people we interviewed that day that missions in other states provide services such as dental care, veterinary services, and whatever needs may arise out of their surrounding communities. These initiatives are completely funded by the government. However, what I came to learn about Misión Robinson that made it especially unique was that the entire mission was run on a volunteer basis. This mission’s specific purpose was to help eliminate illiteracy throughout the country and educate the people. As we heard from so many people we talked to throughout the trip, “education is freedom”. The passion and commitment behind this statement is what keeps Misión Robinson open and thriving to this day….
More students gathering in a classroom to speak to us at Misión Robinson