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COMING UP:Share Opener Variant 2



>> Last year, 14-year-old Evir Mahias quit school to pack ice in a factory and help his family. Mahias is just one of the many young Venezuelans walking away from their educations during the country's raging economic crisis. Reuter's correspondent Alexandra Almer traveled to the Andean state of Tachira for the story.
>> I'm in a small rural school in the Venezuelan Highlands. Students have been studying here for the last three years since the infrastructure in their original school collapsed, and a neighbor agreed to lend his house for them to be able to study. Unfortunately, today, students are studying Spanish outside, because the lights went out in their classroom.
Many students have not even shown up, teachers say, because there is no lunch on offer today.>> Many poor and middle class Venezuelans can no longer prioritize sending there kids to school, as they are swept up in the all consuming struggle for food. Food shortages mean kids often show up for school on an empty stomach.
In schools that used to provide two meals for children, are now struggling to get one meal on the table.>> 27 year-old Sharon Rua says she often keeps her kids at home because she can no longer clean their uniforms amid soap shortages and water cuts. The corner of the crisis also threatens to widen educational inequality for an entire generation.
Venezuela's biggest teachers' union estimates 30% of teachers have at some point left classes to stand in food lines. Some private schools can retain teachers by bumping up salaries. But public schools have no such options.