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Venezuelan clash over education

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Clashes in Caracas over proposed education reforms

Venezuelan police have fired tear gas to disperse rival groups of protesters who clashed in Caracas over plans to reform the nation's educational system.

The scuffles broke outside parliament as lawmakers debated a bill that would broaden state control over schools.

President Hugo Chavez backs the bill that requires curriculums to be based on the ideals espoused by 19th Century independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Opponents say the changes would amount to indoctrination.

"They don't use the word 'socialism', but that's what they want to introduce in our schools," Ray Gonzalez, who opposes the bill, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Supporters of the legislation reject such allegations, saying the document stipulates that teaching should be "open to all forms of thinking".

Meanwhile, a local Caracas newspaper reported that a group of its reporters had been attacked by pro-government supporters.

The newspaper said the attack happened as the journalists were handing out leaflets against the proposed bill.

The document orders the country's public and private schools to base their teaching on "the Bolivarian Doctrine" - a reference to Simon Bolivar's ideals, such as Latin American unity and national self-determination.



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