Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cuba’s Education Minister: Teacher Shortage Is An Unsolved Problem

Cuba's Education Minister: Teacher Shortage Is An Unsolved Problem /

14ymedio, Havana, 29 August 2016 – The start of the 2016-17 school year
in Cuba will be marked by a shortage of teachers. Currently, 94.2% of
the teaching positions are filled, without taking into account the use
of substitutes, according to comments from Ministry of Education
(MINED) authorities at a Saturday meeting with the official press.

Across the country, some 10,600 schools will receive about 1.7 million
students with the start of the new school year on 5 September. However,
the sector is now "trawling" for teachers to fill vacant positions,
according to to the head of the sector, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella.

Between 13 and 23 August, a MINED team, led by the minister, toured all
the provinces and the special municipality of the Isla de la Juventud to
review the situation of the schools in each territory.

During the tour a call was made to seek alternative solutions to
alleviate the shortage of teachers, for which MINED has mobilized 1,000
young university students hired throughout the country to teach several
subjects, especially in primary and junior high schools.

The reinstatement of retired teachers is also one recourse, in the
effort to reduce the number of teachers who are "overloaded," said the
minister. Authorities also expect to add more teaching assistants and
members of governing boards who will share responsibility in the classroom.

Velázquez Cobiella called for "paying more attention to teachers" to
stop the exodus of personnel to other sectors. Organizing industrial and
agricultural fairs at times accessible to educators, along with better
access to subsidies for home repairs, were some of the proposals to
support teachers, "not only in the moral sense but also in the material."

Without offering global figures that illustrate the shortage of teachers
nationwide, industry executives provided some data by territory on
Saturday and have called for continuing to improve the quality of education.

Havana is in the worst position with regards to the lack of teachers and
during this school year some 2,800 teachers from other provinces need to
be moved to Havana to try to alleviate the problem. The teachers will be
housed in shelters set up for this purpose.

Despite these emergency solutions, Havana, Mayabeque and Artemisa suffer
a deficit of 585 teachers. The situation is particularly serious at the
preschool level, where there are a hundred unfilled positions in Havana
(77), Mayabeque (19) and Matanzas (4).

Matanzas province also presents a very unfavorable picture, particularly
in the main city of Cardenas, as well as in Cienaga de Zapata. There are
137 unfilled positions in this area, according to Raul Hernandez
Galarraga, provincial director of Education.

Matanzas schools need about 1,000 professionals to fill teaching
vacancies in junior high schools, many of which are occupied temporarily
by retired teachers and college students.

The numbers in Ciego de Avila total 663 open positions for education
professionals and in Villa Clara the deficit amounts to "more than 1,000
teachers," according to Director of Education, Esperanza González Barceló.

Source: Cuba's Education Minister: Teacher Shortage Is An Unsolved
Problem / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

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