By Tamara Pearson
Venezuela’s Mission Sucre has reached ten years of providing higher education to over 695,000 people, 379,000 of who have already graduated.
The national government launched Mission Sucre in November 2003 in order to provide university education to those who previously didn’t have access to it. Many of its current students are people who have a low income and middle aged mothers who weren’t able to continue their studies because they raised children.
The mission, named after Antonio Jose de Sucre, a Venezuelan independence fighter, provides free education. Students can chose between day and night courses. While many of the original campuses were set up in old PDVSA buildings, the mission now has 1390 campuses around Venezuela, in rural and urban areas.
The courses the mission (also known as the Bolivarian University of Venezuela – UBV) provides are oriented towards professions Venezuela most needs, such as teaching, law, communication, nursing, computing, art, food and agriculture technology, environmental management, hydrocarbons (gas, petroleum, petrochemicals), civil engineering, mining and geology, tourism, integral community medicine, social management for local development, electricity, electronics, water transport, information and documentation, and community integral design. Through the UBV there is also the opportunity for some post graduate study, such as masters in human rights, and doctorates in strategic sciences.
154,371 people studying with the mission have also received scholarships of small monthly payments. Currently, 5.583 indigenous Venezuelans are studying with the mission.
According to higher education minister, Ricardo Menendez, a total of 2.6 million people are studying university education, a figure that is well above the 617,000 who were studying in 1999.
He also announced that the government is considering restructuring the Mission Sucre campuses so that they become “universities of the communes and [students] propose projects that support their communities”.