Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Worse education, more expensive gifts

Worse education, more expensive gifts
December 23, 2013
Daisy Valera

HAVANA TIMES — Every 22nd of December, Cubans celebrate Teacher's Day
and commemorate the conclusion of the island's 1961 Literacy Campaign.
For many families in Cuba, this is a financially complicated date.

Giving gifts to teachers has become a tradition which clearly delineates
the gap that exists between the purchasing powers of different social
sectors and makes attending school in uniform something of a ridiculous

For many students, it is quite simply a distressing moment. I still
remember the lengths my mother went to in order to give teachers some
tiny perfume bottles back in 1997.

The banner of free, quality education – which the Cuban government has
raised again and again – is today a tattered rag. The most hopeful
projections for any improvement in the field of education speak of a
minimum five-year wait (1).

Today, more than 3,069 teachers from different provinces around the
country are lodged in 13 residences in Havana, a number which does not
meet the deficit of primary and secondary school teachers in the capital

During the debate surrounding the policy guidelines approved by the
Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in 2011, more than 21,000 opinions
commenting on the declining quality of education were registered (3). It
wasn't until the end of 2012, however, that high authorities in the
ministries responsible for the field showed their faces to the public,
at several Round Table programs.

The conclusion reached after these officials had timidly "accounted for
their actions" amounted to acknowledging that the measures implemented
in the last decade to rectify the country's educational system had been
wholly mistaken.

Intensively Trained Teachers (teachers who are practically devoid of any
pedagogical training) and Comprehensive General Teachers (who were asked
to teach a great variety of different courses) comprise two of the
programs that most clearly reveal the administrative failure of
ministries almost entirely concerned about the political and ideological
backbone of educators.

If, on the other hand, we look at the changes planned for higher
education, to concentrate on one example, we'll notice only an increase
in the number of programs demanded by the country's economy (such as
those related to agriculture).

We are witnessing a production related educational reform that has been
conceived in a handful of air-conditioned offices, measures that take us
back to 1961, "Year of Education", when the literacy campaign announced
that one of its goals was to "incorporate the population into the
productive sector through a well-rounded cultural and technical
education." (4)

As a result of this crisis, the bulk of society is forced to participate
in a senseless ritual: to reward declining education with more expensive
gifts – a recipe that could well be the precursor for the widespread
acceptance of the privatization of Cuba's main educational systems.
[1]Todo pasa por el maestro ("Everything Depends on the Teacher"),
Margarita Barrios, www.juventudrebelde.cu, 13/12/2013


[3] Tabloide: Información sobre el resultado del debate de los
lineamientos de la política económica y social del Partido y la
Revolución ("Report on the Results of the Debate of the Political,
Economic and Social Guidelines of the Party and Revolution"), VI.
Política Social, p. 24, May 2011.

[4]Manual Alfabeticemos ("Literacy Campaign Manual"), p. 5, 1961.

Source: "Peor educación, regalos más caros - Havana Times.org" -

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