CARACAS — Venezuelan children returned to half-empty classrooms this fall as schools struggled with budget and teacher shortfalls, and parents scrambled to pay for food, let alone new uniforms and notebooks.
The academic year is off to a grim start in the oil-rich nation, where a hyperinflationary crisis has triggered an exodus of residents fleeing shortages of staples such as food and medicines.
The collapse is the result of years of economic mismanagement under President Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013 after leading a “21st Century Revolution” that his successor, Nicolás Maduro, has continued. Corruption and a drop in oil prices were part of the disastrous recipe.
The crisis has hit the education system hard. Two weeks after their mid-September start date, schools across the country — public and private — were at just 60 percent capacity on average, according to Gustavo Padrón, head of Se Educa, a nongovernmental organization that tracks education in Venezuela.
Perspective | Venezuelan children head back to school amid dire shortages
The academic year is off to a grim start in the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, where a hyperinflationary crisis has triggered an exodus of citizens fleeing shortages of food staples and medicines.