Designing the ‘University of the Peoples of the South’ – a case of regionalising the ‘Venezuela Bolivarian University’ model

In times of increased global educational segregation under the so-called ‘knowledge-based economy’, the Chavez government has sought to democratize access to, and the contents of, higher education (see our earlier report on Venezuela).

About a week ago, Venezuela’s Bolivarian News Agency reported on the progress made in designing the University of the People’s of the South.


According to Luis Quintana, Coordinator for International Relations in Venezuela’s Higher Education Ministry, the proposed ‘University of the People’s of the South’ is a new addition to the Bolivarian ‘Alternative for the People’s of Our America’ (ALBA) project which to date has tended to focus on the eradication of illiteracy in countries such as Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Representatives from Argentina, Puerto Rica and Colombia (amongst others) last week discussed the internal organization of the university, its relation to society, the nature of the research program, and its territorial organization.

The philosophical-politico conceptualization, however, appears to follow Venezuela’s Bolivarian University (UBV), founded in 2003, where those excluded from the global education market – ‘the South’ – can study free of charge.

Referring to the ‘University of the Peoples of the South’, Luis Quintana is reported as stating:

…popular and indigenous knowledges will be crucial to generate knowledges that would overcome the capitalist system of domination and the depredation of nature…the ‘South’ is a geopolitical rather than a geographical concept..the ‘South’ is where the exploited and the dominated are….

Luis Fernanda Sarango, Director of the Intercultural University of the Nationalities and Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador, adds that the idea of the University for the People’s of the South is historical and forms part of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

Implicitly reiterating the Bolivarian principle of knowledge production for democratic, informed active citizenship, Sarango states:

It’s not about professionalization for the market, so that they keep using us for the market. It is about life.

The idea of a university anchored in a set of principles which explicitly rejects the global market model that is currently in vogue is important, if only as an alternative imaginary. It will be interesting, too, to follow the regionalising project as it unfolds amongst the ALBA partners over the next few years. GlobalHigherEd would welcome any insights and commentary on these projects.

Thomas Muhr

3 thoughts on “Designing the ‘University of the Peoples of the South’ – a case of regionalising the ‘Venezuela Bolivarian University’ model

  1. How interesting… is this little girl Venezuelan? with a sign in English??? Not very nationalistic (specially for the new educational changes proposed by the governement)…maybe this is not in Venezuela? Some background information…education (higher and in Universidad Central de Venezuela, Universidad Simon Bolivar and others in the rest of Venezuela) has been free for more than 40 years (you can ask all government officials which schools they hailed from). The real problem now is that public education (state-run) which formerly produced excellent, prepared students has so deterriorated that those students at times cannot access the universities…wouldn’t improving highschools be the real revolution, offering A-one education to ALL, private or public schools? Shouldn’t we start there? Start at the beginnig instead of at the end? I’m not even saying your proposal is a bad idea, it is just futile if the bases have not been improved, and by improved I don’t mean indoctrinated, but tauhgt to think freely, see different prospectives and ideas and then, freely make your own. This is a revolution, not one that buys your soul.
    Yes, I agree…education at all levels should be for ALL! It should be inclusive and not exclusise, it should be free with no strings attached… Unfortunatly, that is not what the proposed changes are aiming for.

  2. I agree with you. I can relate to the concept of the “South is where the exploited and dominated are…” And they are exploited and dominated, most of times, by the local populist leaders, democraticly elected or dictators. Yes my friend, that is the truth all populist leaders, from right to left hide from their own people. And where this is more true than ever is in Venezuela, where a Major Populist, Chavez, the Multimillionaire President is buying the souls of poor people by giving away money and making them depend, every day more, form the central goverment, instead of providing the means for self development and sustainability. Education has been free in Venezuela since almost a century. Indeed, all the members of the current Multimillionaire and corrupt regime, got their degress, those that have one, from Free Universities. What they want to do now is to Indoctrinate youngs into thier beleive. In Venezuela, nowadays, like in Cuba, discidents are criminalize. Who ever thinks different will be criminalize and in many cases jailed. This is the truth and this is why Chavez hires the most expensive lobbiest in the US to try to convince the world otherwise. Capitalism is the devil, as long as it is not Chavez Capitalism. Ask yourself what is more Capitalis that the OPEC Cartel, or selling to the US Hundreds of Millions of $ in Oil??!! PLease don’t fool yourself or try to fool us. Come and live in Venezuela, whith out the sponsorship of Chavez, and then we’ll talk.

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