Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why is there a teacher shortage?

Why is there a teacher shortage?
ORLANDO FREIRE SANTANA | La Habana | 25 de Agosto de 2016 - 14:07 CEST.

At this time Cuba's Education Minister, Ena Elsa Velázquez, is visiting
the country's provinces to check on the preparations for the upcoming
2016-2017 school year.

Meetings with provincial leaders in the sector address material
resources and progress on the construction of schools, along with other
issues of territorial interest. At almost all of these meetings there
emerges a matter that is giving Ministry of Education leaders fits: the
shortage of teachers and professors.

It has been reported, for example, that in the province of Ciego de
Ávila 663 more teachers are needed, while in Villa Clara the teacher
deficit comes to more than 1,000. If the deficiencies are this serious
in these provinces, what is the situation like in territories such as
Havana and Matanzas, which have traditionally reported the greatest
shortages of teachers?

Those hoodwinked by Castroist propaganda might think that the lack of
teachers is due to the large number of schools in the country, and how
educational has allegedly been "taken to every corner of the Island."
However, the figures indicate something else: every year there are more
teachers leaving the educational field than there are graduates.
Returning to the case of Ciego de Ávila: in the last academic year 269
new teachers graduated, but the end of that period saw 348 education
professionals retire.

In recent times the authorities have taken some measures in an attempt
to reverse this flight. There were salary increases (albeit meager given
the high cost of living and the dual monetary circulation), an increase
in the number of vacation days, more annual leave, and a decrease in the
number of subjects to be taught by each teacher.

Thus, "Why does the stampede of teachers and professors continue?" the
most befuddled must wonder. We should start with the aforementioned
salaries, which are insufficient for one to live decently, the appalling
material conditions under which many teachers perform their work, and
those cases in which the Government has been unable to guarantee day
care for the children of women teachers and professors.

This enumeration of vicissitudes would be incomplete if we did not
mention the extreme rigidity encountered by teachers in their daily
work, due to the excessive directives handed down "from above." Teachers
work with lesson plans that constitute authentic straitjackets
nullifying their creative capacities in the classroom. Making matters
worse is the provision that all teachers, regardless of the subject they
teach, take courses in the History of Cuba.

This proviso is not, of course, with the sensible objective of teachers
objectively knowing the past so that they can clarify any of their
students' questions. Rather, the aim is to prepare them to legitimize
the present after interpreting the past in accordance with the interests
of the ruling class.

Those who enjoyed the movie Conducta, by director Ernesto Daranas, were
exhilarated when the teacher, Carmen, played by the late actress Alina
Rodríguez, uttered one of the film's most meaningful phrases: "The day I
can't decide what happens in my classroom ... until that day I'll be a

Of course, one thing is the movies, and another is real life. If this
rule were followed, Cuba would be left without teachers at all, as the
General-President has laid down well-established rules for the
educational sector. In fact, no teacher can decide what happens in his
or her classroom. This is an exclusive prerogative of the Ministry of
Education and the upper echelons of power.

This is the reason for the State's persistent monopoly over education,
one that has not yielded to the entreaties of the Catholic Church, which
has called for the reopening of religious schools. And the monopoly
endures despite the "understandings" that Cardinal Jaime Ortega reached
with the nation's political authorities almost at the end of his
archiepiscopal term.

Source: Why is there a teacher shortage? | Diario de Cuba -

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