Educational Stages

Primary and secondary education
In 2007 primary education enrollment was around 93%. Many children under five attend a preschool. Children are required to attend school from the age of six. They attend primary school until they are eleven. They are then promoted to the second level of basic education, where they stay until they are 14 or 15. Public school students usually attend classes in shifts. Some go to school from early in the morning until about 1:30pm and others attend from early afternoon until about 6:00pm. All schoolchildren wear uniforms. Although education is mandatory for children, some poor children do not attend school because they must work to support their families.

Venezuelan education starts at the preschool level, and can be roughly divided into Nursery (ages below 4) and Kindergarten (ages 4-6). Students in Nursery are usually referred to as "yellow shirts", after the color of uniform they must wear according to the Uniform Law, while students in Kindergarten are called "red shirts".

Basic education comprises grades 1 through 6, and lacks a general governing programme outside of the Math curriculum. English is taught at a basic level throughout Basic education. Students are referred to as "white shirts". Upon completing Basic education, students are given a Basic Education Certificate.

Middle education (grades 7-9) explores each one of the sciences as a subject and algebra. English education continues and schools may choose between giving Ethics or Catholic Religion. Students are referred to as "blue shirts". Venezuelans cannot choose their classes.

Once a student ends 9th grade, they enter Diversified education, so called because the student must choose between studying either humanities or the sciences for the next two years. This choice usually determines what majors they can opt for at the college level. Students are referred to as "beige shirts". Upon completing Diversified education (11th grade), students are given the title of Bachiller en Ciencias (literally, Bachelor of the Sciences) or Bachiller en Humanidades (literally, Bachelor of Humanities). Some schools may include professional education, and instead award the title of Técnico en Ciencias (literally, Technician of the Sciences).

Socialist learning
Under the Bolivarian government, the Venezuelan Ministry of Education proposed an educational curriculum that would help establish a socialist country. On 14 May 1969, the President Hugo Chavez approved lists of books for schools to educate young citizens on socialist ideology. The "Revolutionary Eating Plan" was to feature theorist Karl Marx, revolutionary Che Guevara, and liberator Simon Bolivar. According to Venezuela's culture ministry, the compulsory book list is being designed to help schoolchildren eliminate "capitalist thinking" and better understand the ideas and values "necessary to build a socialist country."

In 2011, the governments "Bolivarian" textbooks began to use socialist learning. According to the Associated Press, pro-government messages were "scattered through the pages of Venezuela's textbooks". Math problems included fractions involving government food programs, practiced English by "reciting where late President Hugo Chavez was born and learn civics by explaining why the elderly should give him thanks". The Venezuelan government released 35 million books to primary and secondary schools called the Bicentennial Collection, which have "political content" in each book, that over 5 million children had used between 2010 and 2014.

According to Leonardo Carvajal of the Assembly of Education in Venezuela, the collection of books had "become a vulgar propaganda". Venezuelan historian Inés Quintero stated that in all social science books, "there is an abuse of history, ... a clear trend favoring the current political project and the political programs of the Government".

Geometry professor Tomas Guardia of the Central University of Venezuela stated that "the math textbook is so problematic, there's a good chance this book is also full of errors and propaganda" after he spent months observing math textbooks noting simple errors, such as calling a shape with four sides a square when it could also be a rectangle or a rhombus. According to the Center of Reflection and Education Planning (CERPE) from a 2014 study by Alfredo Keller y Asociados, 77% of Venezuelans rejected the implementation of education based on a socialist ideology.

State of Miranda within the PISA programme
The government of the state of Miranda joined the PISA programme in 2010 and the first results were published in December 2011. Initial results show pupils in schools managed by the regional government achieved a mean score of 422 on the PISA reading literacy scale, the same level Mexico got.

Higher education
Venezuela has more than 90 institutions of higher education, with 860,000 students in 2002. Higher education remains free under the 1999 constitution and was receiving 35% of the education budget, even though it accounted for only 11% of the student population. More than 70% of university students come from the wealthiest quintile of the population. To address this problem, instead of improving primary and secondary education, the government established the Bolivarian University system in 2003, which was designed to democratize access to "higher education" by offering heavily politicised study programmes to the public with only minimal entrance requirements. Autonomous public universities have had their operational budgets frozen by the state since 2004, and staff salaries frozen since 2008 despite inflation of 20-30% annually.

Higher education institutions are traditionally divided into Technical Schools and Universities. Technical schools award the student with the title of Técnico Superior Universitario (University Higher Technician) after completing a three-year programme. Universities award the student with the title of Licenciado (Bachelor) or Ingeniero (Engineer) amongst many others, according to the career and after completing a five-year programme in most of the cases. Some higher education institutions may award Diplomados (Specializations) but the time necessary to obtain one varies.

Post-graduate education follows conventions of the United States (being named "Master's" and "Doctorate" after the programs there).

According to the QS Latin American University Rankings 2014 the top 5 universities in Venezuela are: #1 "Universidad Central de Venezuela", #2 "Universidad Simon Bolivar", #3 the Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, #4 "Universidad de Los Andes" in Mérida and #5 "Universidad Metropolitana de Caracas".

In 2009 the government passed a law to establish a national standardised university entrance examination system, replacing public universities' internal entrance examinations. Some universities have rejected the new system as it creates difficulties for planning. The system has still not been formally implemented by the State.

National Intake System reform
In 2015, Venezuela reformed the National Intake System and gave the government total power to award positions to students in public universities. Also with the reform to the system, other variables were introduced by the Bolivarian government that made it more difficult for students who do not have a lower-class background to find a position in a public university. The reform proved controversial, with protests and accusations that the reform was ideological in nature resulting. According to Quartz, the Bolivarian government reform "disregards several Venezuelan legal precedents", including constitutional laws.