A highly critical analysis of the Venezuelan educational model has been published in the journal Music Education Research. Based on fundraising documents from the mid-1990s, it questions the objectives and effectiveness of the organisation. The questions are significant since Sistema has been adopted in many other countries.
The report’s authors are Professor Geoff Baker of the University of Holloway and Ana Lucia Frega, who was an assessor for one of El Sistema’s requests for foreign bank loans.
Among many negative testimonies they uncover are these three:
– the kids had to work on weekends from the morning into the late evening, when there is a concert it’s horrible, they even have to miss school and everything because they have a rehearsal in the mornings, during exams on Saturdays and Sundays, they shut them away, […] so of course they’re isolated, it’s work morning, noon, and night.
– why do you even go to school at all? What you need is this [El Sistema]. Why would you go to 4th and 5th grade or try to go to high school and get a high school diploma? What are you going to do with that?
– many of my peers didn’t get their high-school diploma, we even have figures of authority who didn’t even finish primary school, and they have high posts, [education] is like an anti-value […] anyone who talks about specific aspects of music-making, phrasing or whatever, is looked down on as a know-it-all.
You can read the full report here.
Dudamel conducts Scotland’s Sistema orchestra