Venezuela classes restart after weeks of blackouts

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Classes resumed in Venezuela’s schools on Wednesday after two major national blackouts left frustrated parents struggling to entertain their children and forced the education ministry to extend the school year.

Two major nationwide power outages led the government to cancel classes across the country. President Nicolas Maduro said earlier this week that classes would resume on Wednesday.

Education Minister Aristobulo Isturiz said classes, which usually end at the beginning of July, would continue until the end of that month, state-run news agency AVN reported.

“This Wednesday, children resume [classes], with much love and enthusiasm,” Youth Minister Pedro Infante wrote on Twitter.

Classes at primary schools, high schools and universities were suspended for a week each at the beginning and end of March in the face of prolonged power outages.

As a result of the blackouts, the water pumping and telecommunications systems were also paralyzed. The resumption of services has been uneven for the member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, with cities such as San Cristóbal, Valencia and Maracay still reporting intermittent supply of electricity.

In Maracay, about 120 kilometers southwest of Caracas, parents said some schools had few teachers.

“At my son’s school, there were only four teachers and they just let the boys play sports,” said Griselda Ascabio, a 39-year-old secretary.

With at least 6.4 million students enrolled in public schools and 1.2 million in private institutes, the Ministry of Education has not reported how many effectively returned to their activities on Wednesday. The Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Carlos Carrillo y Vivian Sequera in Caracas, Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Mariela Nava in Maracaibo, and Anggy Polanco in San Cristóbal; Writing by Brian Ellsworth and Luc Cohen; Editing by Richard Chang