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Pictures | Wed Apr 25, 2018 | 4:35pm EDT

Venezuela's education crisis

A view shows a classroom of Orlando Garcia state primary school in Socopo, Venezuela March 2, 2018. It is mid-morning on a weekday yet all that can be heard in the once-bustling corridors of the Orlando Garcia state primary school is the swish of palm trees outside in the wind.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

A view shows a classroom of Orlando Garcia state primary school in Socopo, Venezuela March 2, 2018. It is mid-morning on a weekday yet all that can be heard in the once-bustling corridors of the Orlando Garcia state primary school is the swish of...more

A view shows a classroom of Orlando Garcia state primary school in Socopo, Venezuela March 2, 2018. It is mid-morning on a weekday yet all that can be heard in the once-bustling corridors of the Orlando Garcia state primary school is the swish of palm trees outside in the wind. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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The white, tin-roof building in the town of Socopo once held nearly 400 children, yet closed two months ago in a protest by teachers and parents at low salaries and lack of school lunches.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

The white, tin-roof building in the town of Socopo once held nearly 400 children, yet closed two months ago in a protest by teachers and parents at low salaries and lack of school lunches. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

The white, tin-roof building in the town of Socopo once held nearly 400 children, yet closed two months ago in a protest by teachers and parents at low salaries and lack of school lunches. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Children walk back home from school in San Cristobal, Venezuela. Nearly 3 million children are missing some or all classes in Venezuela, according to a study by universities, in a depressing knock-on from a deepening economic crisis that could cause long-lasting damage to the South American country.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Children walk back home from school in San Cristobal, Venezuela. Nearly 3 million children are missing some or all classes in Venezuela, according to a study by universities, in a depressing knock-on from a deepening economic crisis that could cause...more

Children walk back home from school in San Cristobal, Venezuela. Nearly 3 million children are missing some or all classes in Venezuela, according to a study by universities, in a depressing knock-on from a deepening economic crisis that could cause long-lasting damage to the South American country. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Carmen Penaloza looks at the refrigerator at her home in San Cristobal. Venezuela has about 8 million school children in total, and free education was a cornerstone of ex-President Hugo Chavez's 1999-2013 socialist rule of the OPEC nation. Now, along with hospitals and other flagship welfare projects, the education sector is in crisis, heaping pain on Venezuelans and eroding Chavez's legacy as his successor Nicolas Maduro seeks re-election in a May 20 presidential vote.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Carmen Penaloza looks at the refrigerator at her home in San Cristobal. Venezuela has about 8 million school children in total, and free education was a cornerstone of ex-President Hugo Chavez's 1999-2013 socialist rule of the OPEC nation. Now, along...more

Carmen Penaloza looks at the refrigerator at her home in San Cristobal. Venezuela has about 8 million school children in total, and free education was a cornerstone of ex-President Hugo Chavez's 1999-2013 socialist rule of the OPEC nation. Now, along with hospitals and other flagship welfare projects, the education sector is in crisis, heaping pain on Venezuelans and eroding Chavez's legacy as his successor Nicolas Maduro seeks re-election in a May 20 presidential vote. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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School children get on the back of a truck on their way to school in Socopo. In Socopo, in the agricultural savannah state of Barinas that was once home to Chavez, half of the 20 public schools, including Orlando Garcia, closed completely in February, mid-term. They have since reopened, but, along with the rest of Barinas' approximately 1,600 public schools, they are operating just three days a week.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

School children get on the back of a truck on their way to school in Socopo. In Socopo, in the agricultural savannah state of Barinas that was once home to Chavez, half of the 20 public schools, including Orlando Garcia, closed completely in...more

School children get on the back of a truck on their way to school in Socopo. In Socopo, in the agricultural savannah state of Barinas that was once home to Chavez, half of the 20 public schools, including Orlando Garcia, closed completely in February, mid-term. They have since reopened, but, along with the rest of Barinas' approximately 1,600 public schools, they are operating just three days a week. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Carmen Penaloza serves lunch for her grandchildren at her home in San Cristobal. Venezuela's economic implosion has led to millions suffering food shortages, unable to buy basic goods. Prices double every two or three months and the currency is worth less every day.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Carmen Penaloza serves lunch for her grandchildren at her home in San Cristobal. Venezuela's economic implosion has led to millions suffering food shortages, unable to buy basic goods. Prices double every two or three months and the currency is worth...more

Carmen Penaloza serves lunch for her grandchildren at her home in San Cristobal. Venezuela's economic implosion has led to millions suffering food shortages, unable to buy basic goods. Prices double every two or three months and the currency is worth less every day. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Isabel Colina (L) and her daughters Barbara (C) and Magdalena eat at their home in Socopo. Education experts fear a stunted generation. "Hungry people aren't able to teach or learn," said Victor Venegas, president of the Barinas chapter of the national Federation of Education Workers. "We're going to end up with a nation of illiterates."

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Isabel Colina (L) and her daughters Barbara (C) and Magdalena eat at their home in Socopo. Education experts fear a stunted generation. "Hungry people aren't able to teach or learn," said Victor Venegas, president of the Barinas chapter of the...more

Isabel Colina (L) and her daughters Barbara (C) and Magdalena eat at their home in Socopo. Education experts fear a stunted generation. "Hungry people aren't able to teach or learn," said Victor Venegas, president of the Barinas chapter of the national Federation of Education Workers. "We're going to end up with a nation of illiterates." REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Grandchildren of Carmen Penaloza watch TV at their home in San Cristobal. A major bonus for school children was once free food but state food programs are now intermittent, and when lunches do come, they are often small and missing protein. The problems are felt across the country, with children often falling unwell or dizzy due to poor nutrition. "We were singing the national anthem and I felt nauseous. I'd only eaten an arepa (a local cornbread) that day, and I fainted," recounted Juliani Caceres, an 11-year-old student in Tachira state on the border with Colombia.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Grandchildren of Carmen Penaloza watch TV at their home in San Cristobal. A major bonus for school children was once free food but state food programs are now intermittent, and when lunches do come, they are often small and missing protein. The...more

Grandchildren of Carmen Penaloza watch TV at their home in San Cristobal. A major bonus for school children was once free food but state food programs are now intermittent, and when lunches do come, they are often small and missing protein. The problems are felt across the country, with children often falling unwell or dizzy due to poor nutrition. "We were singing the national anthem and I felt nauseous. I'd only eaten an arepa (a local cornbread) that day, and I fainted," recounted Juliani Caceres, an 11-year-old student in Tachira state on the border with Colombia. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Juliani Caceres, grand daughter of Carmen Penaloza, have rice and plantain for lunch at her home in San Cristobal. While critics lambast him for incompetence and corruption, Maduro blames Venezuela's crisis on Washington and the opposition, accusing them of waging an "economic war." Officials constantly downplay the social problems. "There may be weaknesses in the food program in some municipalities, but we are always attentive and looking to improve the situation," Education Minister Elias Jaua said in an interview in Barinas.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Juliani Caceres, grand daughter of Carmen Penaloza, have rice and plantain for lunch at her home in San Cristobal. While critics lambast him for incompetence and corruption, Maduro blames Venezuela's crisis on Washington and the opposition, accusing...more

Juliani Caceres, grand daughter of Carmen Penaloza, have rice and plantain for lunch at her home in San Cristobal. While critics lambast him for incompetence and corruption, Maduro blames Venezuela's crisis on Washington and the opposition, accusing them of waging an "economic war." Officials constantly downplay the social problems. "There may be weaknesses in the food program in some municipalities, but we are always attentive and looking to improve the situation," Education Minister Elias Jaua said in an interview in Barinas. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Gilari Martinez, grand daughter of Carmen Penaloza, writes in a notebook at her home in San Cristobal. The government insists education remains a priority and says that 75 percent of the national budget goes to the social sector. "Amid the economic war, the fall of oil prices, international harassment and financial persecution, not a single school has closed," Maduro said at a Caracas rally last month, referring to U.S. sanctions against Venezuela. His Barinas governor, Argenis Chavez, however, acknowledged the closures in Socopo, blaming them on the opposition as part of a plan to sabotage the upcoming election.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Gilari Martinez, grand daughter of Carmen Penaloza, writes in a notebook at her home in San Cristobal. The government insists education remains a priority and says that 75 percent of the national budget goes to the social sector. "Amid the economic...more

Gilari Martinez, grand daughter of Carmen Penaloza, writes in a notebook at her home in San Cristobal. The government insists education remains a priority and says that 75 percent of the national budget goes to the social sector. "Amid the economic war, the fall of oil prices, international harassment and financial persecution, not a single school has closed," Maduro said at a Caracas rally last month, referring to U.S. sanctions against Venezuela. His Barinas governor, Argenis Chavez, however, acknowledged the closures in Socopo, blaming them on the opposition as part of a plan to sabotage the upcoming election. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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Children attend classes at a school in San Cristobal. Teachers in the public sector earn around four times the minimum wage of just over a dollar a month at the black market exchange rate. That is nowhere near what Venezuelans need to feed themselves and their families. In addition to food shortages, school communities are suffering from a collapse in transport systems and inability to pay bus fares, plus frequent water and power-cuts.

REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Children attend classes at a school in San Cristobal. Teachers in the public sector earn around four times the minimum wage of just over a dollar a month at the black market exchange rate. That is nowhere near what Venezuelans need to feed themselves...more

Children attend classes at a school in San Cristobal. Teachers in the public sector earn around four times the minimum wage of just over a dollar a month at the black market exchange rate. That is nowhere near what Venezuelans need to feed themselves and their families. In addition to food shortages, school communities are suffering from a collapse in transport systems and inability to pay bus fares, plus frequent water and power-cuts. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
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