Bogota — A generation of Venezuelan children is missing the chance for an adequate education amid mass absenteeism, decaying buildings and an exodus of qualified teachers. Education was a priority for the government of President Hugo Chavez, who boosted spending on public schooling and expanded literacy programmes for the poor. When Chavez took office in 1999, he pledged to eliminate illiteracy in the country.

Twenty years into the nation’s socialist experiment, classrooms are half-empty as the school system falls apart amid a spiralling economic crisis and hyperinflation...

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