Venezuela - Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceVenezuela - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education
FINANCE ADMINISTRATION & EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
The educational system in Venezuela is administered and financed by the central government with all levels under the control of the Ministry of Education. This Ministry has four major subdivisions: the Department of Elementary and Secondary School Education; the Department of Higher Education; the Department of Special Programs (Special Education, Adult Education, etc.); and the Department of Administration and Service.
The Ministry of Education oversees a large educational budget for the whole country. However, universities in particular have some autonomy and independence for self-governance. In some instances, universities are able to increase their operating budgets by securing private donations or by the royalties provided by patents, copyrights, and so forth. However, the larger responsibility will always be placed in the hands of the Minister and the Ministry's office. In this sense, higher education in Venezuela has not been able to free itself from this centralized type of administration. That is, the minister is virtually in charge of all operations: budget, inspection, administration, curriculum planning, supervision, orientation, university infrastructure and equipment, contracts, research, and policy implementation.
The government fully finances the whole educational budget. The Ministry of Education simply works with the budget assigned by the president and congress. Traditionally, the budget for the whole educational system has been about 15 percent of the national budget. Higher education usually takes the largest amount, about 33 percent of this budget, followed by basic and secondary education. However, private corporations have been very generous towards higher education through the establishment of a series of scholarship and fellowship programs financed by the private sector. Students typically follow an application procedure to secure funds for education, research, or travel. In other cases, the private sector also finances large research projects with the aid of trained professionals in the area.
Research in Venezuela is generally weak. Structurally, the whole educational system does not foster a research environment. National institutions of higher learning do not have the infrastructure to enable leading research projects; library facilities are outdated in terms of both books and technology. Additionally, researchers who have been trained overseas tend to continue their research overseas. Venezuela has experienced a notorious brain drain in the sciences; medicine, computer science and engineering are the main areas of concern. Researchers tend to seriously consider job offers overseas where they will typically be better paid and enjoy better working conditions. A scientist at the IVIC (Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research) averages a salary of US$1,000 a month, but the cost of living of Venezuela is so high that a modest middle class housing rent easily reaches or surpasses such a figure.
CONICIT (the National Science Council) is a government-run institution that sponsors research in forms of grants and fellowships. A large number of researchers have benefited from these programs. CONICIT has a highly selective process, and researchers usually enter a national competition for their grants and fellowships. These grants and fellowships aim at supporting all kinds of research activities from a specific research project such as water treatment or animal research to foreign training and education in the sciences and the humanities.