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Venezuela - Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceVenezuela - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education

CONSTITUTIONAL & LEGAL FOUNDATIONS

According to the recently rewritten constitution of Venezuela (1999), education is "democratic, free and compulsory." At the same time, this constitution establishes that "education is a public service and is based on the respect for all philosophical schools," and it "has the purpose of developing the creative potential of each individual." The main difference between this constitution and the one written in 1961 is that the current constitution establishes that education is free and compulsory through high school. Constitutionally speaking, higher education is also free, although not compulsory. This may sound incredible to teachers and students abroad, but for the last 40 years, the central government has made a resourceful effort to keep formal education free and accessible through all levels.

The newly constituted Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports is the institutional branch that oversees the implementation of new educational laws created by the President and congress. This institution is run by the Minister of Education, who has the authority to make changes or regulations to the whole educational system in conjunction with congress. Private institutions must be registered with the Ministry of Education and must follow the national curriculum and legislation. All private institutions receive some type of funding from the central government. Generally, this funding is based criteria such as whether it is charity or religion-based. The educational philosophy established in the constitution is that of a modern state: supporting education as the main tool for personal, social, economic and democratic development. It is also established that the central government will make the investments in education in accordance with recommendations set forth by the United Nations.

The Ley Orgánica de Educación, (Law of Organic Education) of 1980, establishes in article 14 that the educational system in Venezuela is an organic ensemble where different policies and services are integrated in order to guarantee the unity of the educational process in and outside the school quarters. Article 15 establishes a technical and administrative unit designed to pay close attention to all the requirements of the educational process; that is, to maintain connections between all levels of the system. Article 16 establishes that the Venezuela educational system is constituted as follows: preprimary Education, Basic Education, Diversified (Professional), and Higher Education. And the sub-branches are: Special Education, Art Education, Military Education, Religious Education, Adult Education, and Extracurricular Education.

In relation to Diversified and Professional Education, article 23 of the Ley Orgánica de Educación reads:

[The] objective is to continue the teaching process that the student started in the previous levels; to widen the integral development of the student and his or her cultural background; to offer him or her opportunities so that he or she can define an area of study or work; to bring him or her a scientific, humanistic, and technical training that would allow the student to enter the labor market and to orient the student to continue on to Higher Education.

Universities are governed by a separate legislation: The Law of Universities. This law gives universities relatively autonomous freedom for self-government, which includes restriction of law enforcement from campuses. This stipulation has proven successful in the politicallycharged atmosphere traditionally associated with universities.

Although these are the main legal foundations of the Venezuelan educational system, Venezuela is currently undergoing a process of political and educational change; that is, the President and Congress are currently debating the articulation of new laws concerning the reform of the whole educational system.


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