Venezuela: Teachers Protest Against Low Pay, Ponder Leaving The Profession

Teachers in Venezuelan public schools had intended to spend their yearly vacation bonus money to purchase school uniforms for their children, weatherproof leaking roofs, purchase new prescription glasses or repair the pair that were barely held together by adhesive tape, or purchase new pairs of spectacles altogether.

Some were expected to receive $100, while others were expected to receive more or less based on their years of service and higher degrees. However, only a small percentage were expected to receive around $200. Unfortunately, the government only compensated them for a portion of that. As a result, a few days into their extended holiday, teachers have been rallying in the hundreds throughout the nation, threatening to go on strike when school starts back up or potentially even leave the teaching profession altogether.

This week, the government has promised to pay the bonus in full after an announcement was made by a politician on Friday. The teachers in Venezuela, on the other hand, have seen on television economic promises that haven’t been met for a long time, and as a result, they are waiting till they receive their money before revising the course.

Educators in the crisis-stricken nation earn an average of $50 per month, making them among the lowest paid in Latin America. At the conclusion of each academic year in July, the government provides them with a lump sum payment that serves as a vacation bonus.

This year’s bonus was calculated by the National Budget Office based on the $1.52 per month minimum salary in 2021 rather than the $30 per month minimum wage that went into effect in April. Even worse, the government has paid out just 25% of the surprisingly low bonus to teachers and has not specified a timetable for the remaining bonus to be handed out.

Although many professors and lecturers hold down two, three, or even four jobs, their combined income often falls short of covering the cost of a month’s worth of groceries (which averaged $392 in the previous month). As a result of the constant presence of vermin, mildew, filth, and mosquito-attracting standing water, many educators are forced to do their jobs in circumstances that are on the verge of being dangerous.

Since the beginning of the economic and political crisis in the nation a decade ago, many professors and instructors have left the profession. There were around 370,000 teachers in Venezuela in 2017, but the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers claims that half of them have abandoned their posts since then. Together, they make up a significant portion of the almost 6 million Venezuelans who have fled to neighboring nations.

Those who are still in the profession may not always be able to fulfill their responsibilities to their students because of issues with transportation, health, compensation, and other factors. It may be a significant drain on the finances of those who are sent to schools far from their homes and must use public transit to get there.

Teachers have threatened strikes before, but this time the fury has been building up throughout the year as they try to teach their kids with little to no internet connection, deal with a broken health care system, and watch the cost of essential necessities skyrocket because of Venezuela’s unstoppable galloping inflation.

Educators have the backing of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by the United States and numerous other countries. However, Maduro’s administration controls all government institutions, so he and the opposition parties have limited power.

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