A Command of English Will Be An “Indispensable” Requirement For University In Cuba / 14ymedio, Orlando Palma

University of Havana. (14ymedio)
University of Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Orlando Palma/EFE, Havana, 7 September 2015 – In the coming years, the command of English will be an “indispensable” requirement to receive a university degree in Cuba, according to an announcement made this Monday by the Minister of Higher Education on the island, Rodolfo Alarcon.

The education minister made it public along with the other changes that will begin to take effect in the 2016-17 school year, and will also include the creation of two-year programs of study. From now on English will disappear as an obligatory subject in the university class schedules, but the new rule will be implemented to the extent that the conditions are created in every province in the country.

Even though a university student has complied with all the requirements of their specialty, according to the minister, they will not receive their diploma “if they have not taken the exams to qualify as an independent speaker of this language.”

Alarcon confirmed the words offered by Cuban vice president Jose Machado Ventura about the learning of English. “We have to resolve the problem of Cuban professionals not being able to express themselves in the universal language of our time,” said the official. The lack of teachers in this subject in general education cannot continue to impact graduates of higher education from arriving at their professional life without the power to sustain a simple conversation in a language that is universal in the academic environment.

To achieve this objective, the universities will offer the students “courses and access to computer platforms to allow them to learn independently,” he added. However, he admitted that the measure will be applied gradually because first, “we have to create the conditions to apply them.”

The new rule will be implemented to the extent that the conditions are created in every province in the country

Alarcon said they will work to achieve an international standard for the English degree that Cuban universities will offer.

Among other changes, a new educational level called Non-University Higher Education will be created. Admission will require mastery at a high school level. “The programs will last two, two and a half, or three years, according to the case,” the minister detailed, and “will be used to prepare people for specific occupations in the labor market.”

The main changes will affect access to the encounter courses and distance education. The current application of entrance exams for this form of education “has become a barrier not only cognitive, but also psychological, for these people who are workers and who have not studied for years.” In the near future, the student could enter with a high school diploma and move directly to the education without an entrance exam.

Directors and specialists of the Ministry of Higher Education will be available to answer questions about the new measures through the digital site of the newspaper Granma starting at 3:00 pm on Tuesday.