3 Professors to Aid Venezuela Schools
Program to Stress Creativity and Problem-Solving
Three Harvard professors will help the government of Venezuela develop an experimental program to improve the quality of Venezuelan schools.
Jorge I. Dominguez, professor of Government, David N. Perkins, lecturer on Education, and Richard J. Herrnstein, professor of Psychology, are developing the program as part of a proposal by the Venezuelan minister of state on human intelligence to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving skills in Venezuelan schools.
Dominguez, who visited schools in Barquisimeta, Venezuela, last April, said yesterday that Venezuelan educational quality is "very uneven," and added that "there was a very heavy emphasis on memorization." The experimental program is designed to stress instead language use, reading skills, writing ability, and creativity.
Ray Nickerson of Bolt, Baranek and Newman, a Cambridge consulting firm that will also work on the project, yesterday emphasized the experimental nature of the project, but also said he is optimistic. "The literacy rate in Venezuela is quite high, relative to other Latin American countries, and is rising quickly. This is a good sign," he said.
Dominguez said he is also optimistic about the project because Venezuela's oil wealth allows it to devote large sums to educational projects.
But Perkins said that preliminary signs do not guarantee success. "Literacy figures are unreliable," he said. "We don't know whether they are based on the ability to read signs or a magazine article," he added.
Dominguez, Perkins and Nickerson praised Luis A. Machado, the Venezuelan minister. "He is a visionary, essentially," Perkins said.