'Camões - Institute for Cooperation and Language' will provide almost half a million euros for the teaching of Portuguese in Venezuela, where demand is growing among Portuguese-descendants, but also in higher, basic and secondary education.
The announcement was made by the Camões Institute president, Luís Faro Ramos, in Caracas, after a four-day visit to Venezuela, where new cooperation agreements were signed with the University of Los Andes, the Portuguese Institute of Culture and the Portuguese Center.
"The main purpose of my coming to this country was to sign a cooperation protocol between the Camões Institute and the University of Los Andes in Merida. I would like to point out in this regard that this is the first time that Camões Institute has cooperated with a university, in this case, a higher education establishment in the western region of Venezuela, in the Andean region", he said.
Speaking to Lusa Agency, Luís Faro Ramos, explained that it was the second time he visited Venezuela and that the Camões Institute is "expanding the presence" in the country.
"With the protocol I signed in Mérida and these two other protocols (Portuguese Institute of Culture and Portuguese Center), the investment in Venezuela for the next year by the Camões Institute will be of around half a million euros (...) The Camões Institute continues to invest human and financial resources in Venezuela and has been even increasing this investment a little", he said.
On the other hand, he stressed that he observed "with a great joy that the teaching of our language in Venezuela is growing in higher education but also in primary and secondary education".
"Last year (2018), Venezuela admitted for the first time the Portuguese language to be taught in the public curriculum. We had a few hundred students and this year we have about 2,500 who study Portuguese as a foreign language, especially Venezuelans. If we add these to the ones who study Portuguese as an inheritance language, which are mainly Portuguese-descendants, we have almost 4,000 students", he said.
According to Luis Faro Ramos, these students are supported by more than 60 teachers in 20 schools.
"The growing interest in our language is fantastic, and we at the Camões Institute are always trying to match our offer with the demand. Obviously, this is a challenge, but it is a good challenge, which we hope to continue to meet", he stressed.
On the other hand, he highlighted the "remarkable role" played by the coordination of the Portuguese language teaching in Venezuela, the Embassy and the Consulate General of Portugal in Valencia.
"We have a structure here, which is able to face the challenges of the present and of the future too," he said.
In this regard, he stated that the Camões Institute has received "increasing requests, mainly from the Portuguese associations and schools, to send material, manuals and books" which led to an investment of over 70 thousand euros in compendiums that were distributed throughout the country.
The president of the Camões Institute also said that during the visit to the country, he received with "great joy" the news that UNESCO adopted May 5 as the World Portuguese Language Day.
"It is a great joy, a recognition of the fantastic work of our team at Unesco, but it is also a recognition of the joint work of all the Portuguese-speaking countries. This would never have been possible if there were no unanimous will on the part of the CPLP countries to give the Portuguese language a different qualitative dimension," he said.
According to Luís Faro Ramos, "from next year onwards, the responsibility will increase, but there will be huge reasons for celebrating for the first time the World Portuguese Language Day".
"This interest that I see on the part of the Venezuelan authorities and students for our language is a reflection of the importance that the global, pluricentric Portuguese language has in the world, a language spoken by more than 270 million people, and that by the end of the century may be spoken by more than 500 million people," he concluded.