At the beginning of March, myself and a group of teachers and head teachers travelled to Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. We spent 6 days in the capital as part of a British Council funded International project. We visited 7 schools, all of which were in the notorious Barrios, and amongst the poorest people in the country.
The journey each day to visit the schools sometimes lasted for up to 2 hrs as our taxi driver (non English speaking) and some of us (simple Spanish speaking) tried to converse, as we tried to find our way around the barrios which consisted of intersecting roads that had no names. That was an experience in itself. Once we arrived at the schools, (sometimes up to 1hr late) we were greeted with warmth and kindness by staff and pupils. Everyone in the schools both pupils and staff, showed enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn, even when they had so little in the way of resources.
All the schools we visited were government schools and so had very little in the way of equipment or resources. Some of the schools were so large that some children attended only for the morning and another group of children attended in the afternoon. All the schools had very strong community links, with parents coming in to decorate or help out in the classrooms. The parents of the children all have a strong belief in education and how it will give their children a much better chance in life.
Experiencing life even for a short while in a country with a different culture, traditions and beliefs is fascinating and certainly makes you think and realise just how much we take for granted.