As the only Latin American country in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela is a country with abundant natural resources. Even so, poverty and inequality are widespread. An on-going political crisis, as well as excessive levels of crime and violence, has contributed to Venezuela’s social and educational problems:
- High enrollment, low quality: The quality of Venezuela's educational system ranked 111th out of 134. For quality of math and science education, it ranked 114th (World Economic Forum).
- Educational inequality between the poor and non-poor: Of the 40% of Venezuelans in their 30s with the lowest income, the secondary school completion rate is 21%. Of the richest 10%, the graduation rate is 74% (Fernando Reimers: Unequal Schools, Unequal Chances).
Mano Amiga Mariches
Location: Mariches, Outskirts of Caracas
Number of Students: 977
- Mano Amiga Mariches operates in a poor neighborhood of Fila de Mariches, on the outskirts of Caracas. The area faces not only poverty but also high crime, lack of adequate services and unreliable transportation due to landslides.
- The 920 boys and girls from low-income families currently receive pre-K through 12th grade education. A technical-professional high school degree will be available to them soon.
- The school also offers after-school activities, daily dental and medical services for students and their families, parenting school and job training for parents.
- Mariches attempts to close the educational disparity between the rich and the impoverished in Venezuela by providing high quality teachers and up-to-date facilities.
- The results equal those of other schools, with approximately 70% of its graduates continuing on to universities to study everything from engineering to criminology.
- Worldfund has provided funds for scholarships and infrastructure. The school's current needs include additional scholarships, workshops and a gymnasium.
Mano Amiga La Montaña
Location: Fila de Turgua, Outskirts of Caracas
Number of Students: 313
- Opened in October 2004, Mano Amiga La Montaña operates outside of Caracas in a rural area of Fila de Turgua called El Hatillo.
- Mano Amiga La Montaña provides preschool to fourth grade classes as well as a medical unit which assists the community of Turgua.
- Two classroom buildings are under construction as well as science laboratories and a gymnasium. Worldfund has provided funds for the construction of this infrastructure.
Mano Amiga (Helping Hand) schools were first founded by a Catholic priest in Mexico City in 1963 in response to the grave financial, educational and social problems of impoverished neighborhoods throughout Latin America. Today, there are 31 schools in the Mano Amiga network, serving more than 19,000 students living in underprivileged urban communities in Latin America.