Friday, June 20, 2014

They Taught Us to Lie, Rob and Pretend

They Taught Us to Lie, Rob and Pretend / Gladys Linares
Posted on June 19, 2014

HAVANA, Cuba – Very often we hear the officials of the Ministry of
Education stress our country´s successes in this field from 1959
onwards, and we ask ourselves how can they possibly talk about this
without the slightest shame, ignoring the profound loss of values
confronting Cuban society, when even Raúl Castro, on July 7, 2013 at the
1st ordinary session of the 8th Term of the National Assembly of Popular
Power recognised that for the more than twenty years of the Special
Period "there has been an acceleration of the decline of moral and civic
values such as honesty, decency, shame, respect. honour, and an absence
of sensitivity toward other peoples´problems."

With these words he recognised that the destruction of Cuban society did
not start in the Special Period. What happened is that, from the start
of the totalitarian Castro dictatorship, Cubans have had to lie, be
dishonest, distort childrens´ education and many other things in order
to survive.

Now they say that the school and the family are fundamental in the
development of the citizen, but for many years they have not cared about
the training and care of the educators. In Cuba, before 1959, they had
achieved great advances in public education, and although even more
effort was needed to deal with the serious deficiencies in rural
education, our schools were forming professionals capable of improving
the culture and education of our people.

While it is true that the literacy campaign was an important event in
the fight against illiteracy, not everything was wheat, because at the
same time a difficult period was starting for Cuban teachers.

With the intention of imposing an educational system which would answer
to the interests of the new government, they introduced the law
nationalising teaching and set up a unitary educational system under the
pretext that the schools we inherited were schools which tended to serve
the "spurious" interests of imperialism. Those teachers who were against
this were removed from education. The Kindergarten "Normal" Schools, as
well as the "Normal" schools for teachers, disappeared, and distinct
programmes started up for turning young people into a new type of
teacher, like the voluntary teachers (who took intensive courses in the
Sierra Maestra). the Makarenko teachers and, more recently, the emerging

In 1975, in view of the scarcity of teachers, they started the Teacher
Training Schools, where 6th grade pupils entered, and which functioned
until 1990. These schools started up again in the 2010-2011 academic
year, now with 9th grade pupils. There are 22 in the country and this
year will be the first graduation.

This is the way they improvised teaching: with kids, adolescents and
young people without either the teaching experience, nor the necessary
knowledge to carry out the complete activity of teaching and educating.

At the same time, the arbitrary programmes applied in the system, like
the boarding schools in the country, where the students had to devote a
part of their day to farm labour, separated the children and young
people from their families at decisive stages in their upbringing, which
accentuated the loss of values.

Also, during all those years, there was the continuous exodus of
teachers, driven by the low salaries (no more than 400 Cuban pesos a
month, less than twenty dollars U.S.), as well as the poor teaching
methods, which impacted on their professional evaluation, and the very
bad working conditions.

Nowadays the Cuban school is characterised by the absenteeism of pupils
and teachers, by the inappropriate form of dress and way of addressing
each other, and also some teachers frequently use obscene words to
control the students. And we can´t avoid mentioning the deterioration of
the state of the facilities.

As a result of all this, the recent scandal about fraud in the maths
exams to enter higher education was no surprise, which came to light
when the echoes of the previous case were still reverberating, in
relation to the maths test for the eleventh grade the previous year. And
the worst of it was everyone knows these weren´t the only incidents,
just the ones which were made public. And, sadly, I would dare to say
that they won´t be the last. I hope I´m mistaken.

Cubanet, 6 June 2014, Gladys Linares

Translated by GH

Source: They Taught Us to Lie, Rob and Pretend / Gladys Linares |
Translating Cuba -

No comments:

Post a Comment