The Police in Santiago de Cuba Will Fine Families Who Don’t Follow the ‘Teleclasses’

Since March 15, a “new grid” began in the programming of the Educational Channel, which includes the subjects that were not being taught until now. (Radio Rebelde)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Manuel Calvo, Santiago de Cuba, 5 May 2021 – Parents of students who do not transcribe the content of teleclasses that are taught on television due to the pandemic will face a fine of up to 2,500 pesos. “Teachers have the duty to go to the homes and review the notebooks. The family of the student who has not written the content will be reprimanded,” an official of the Ministry of Education in Santiago de Cuba confirms to 14ymedio.

The measure, which is already in force throughout the province, seeks to encourage greater discipline among students when it comes to attending and systematizing the knowledge that is taught through these television broadcasts. “We realized that many children were not following the classes, they were not doing the tasks they were directed to do, and all that with the consent of their parents,” explains the directive.

“At least once a week the teacher has to check that the student has copied the content, and he or she can do it by visiting the home or by asking for a photo of the pages of the notebook with the copied material,” he adds. “If the teacher sees delays or deficiencies, he or she must inform the school management so that the police can be notified.” continue reading

The information has been confirmed by several teachers who teach at the primary, secondary and pre-university levels in the province. “They brought us together to tell us that we should report on delinquent students who do not copy the classes, but I am a mother myself and I know the difficulties people are having at home to get children to pay attention to the television, so I warned every one of the parents of the new measure before reporting any of them,” says Maité, a Spanish teacher.

“I told them to catch up with the classes and that if they had to copy it themselves they should not stop doing it because the teachers are not the only ones who are going to supervise. Education methodologists and commissions created just for that who are above us they will also visit some homes,” she adds.

In the neighborhood of San Agustín, where the supervision process has already begun, Dayana Espinosa has updated the notebooks of her two children. “I had to do it on the run but luckily they warned me in advance in a WhatsApp thread where several mothers are,” she explains. “They even handed me all the texts that I had to transcribe before the inspectors arrived.”

“In the end, this is more workload for the family when we are already quite overwhelmed with the situation of the children at home all day, because many of those classes are boring and there is no way to make the kids spend all that time time in front of the screen taking notes. If we don’t write it ourselves, then the fine is a certainty.”

In Cuba, the first closure of schools was decreed at the end of March 2020 as a result of the arrival of the Covid pandemic that has now left 62,206 infections and 373 deaths. Since then, classes have been temporarily restored in several provinces, but with the current upsurge in the disease they have been suspended again. The authorities have developed a teaching program through television to alleviate the problem of closed schools.

“The teacher is irreplaceable,” Eugenio González Pérez, Vice Minister of Education, recently told the official press, insisting on the importance of watching teleclasses “as a complement.” However, the concern of parents increases as this alternative to school lengthens in time, especially due to how unattractive the students find it.

Since last March 15, a “new grid” began in the programming of the Educational Channel, which includes the subjects that were not being taught until now. The broadcasts are directed to all the provinces and municipalities in the phase of limited  transmission, except Pinar del Río, which has its own program.

Among the new subjects that are already being transmitted are Geography, sixth grade; English, from third to sixth; History, seventh and eighth; and Chemistry, Physics, and Biology, in twelfth grade.

“My son has the notebooks up to date but it is only to avoid the fine. Already a neighbor of ours was verbally admonished and warned that the next time she will have to pay 2,500 pesos, so I prefer not to get into trouble,” Espinosa tells 14ymedio. “Nobody wants to risk it.”


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Cuba’s Central Bank Freezes Hard Currency Deposits of Protestant Churches

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Manuel Calvo, Santiago de Cuba, 25 October 2020 — Money in the form of hard currency comes into their accounts at the International Financial Bank, but they are not issued magnetic cards or given cash to be able to spend it in the stores that take only ’freely convertible currency’ (MCL). This is the distressing situation facing the Protestant Churches in Santiago de Cuba, leaving them unable to acquire the supplies they need for their personnel and their religious activities, according to the statements collected by 14ymedio.

This situation, which apparently also affects churches in the rest of the country, has been complicated by the Government’s decision to give priority to supplying the retail and wholesale stores the sell only in the newly created MLC magnetic cards, which has led to a brutal shortage of supplies in the stores where purchases can be made in Cuban pesos (CUP) and Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). Not having access to their funds in foreign currency, means these religious institutions cannot obtain the necessary products to support their activities.

In July, the United Evangelical Lutheran Synod Church in Cuba received resources from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to finance a humanitarian project, to address the situation created by Covid-19. With this help, the congregation was able to punctually deliver pork and medicines purchased at the city’s international pharmacy, and also to distribute money directly to 300 families. continue reading

But all these operations had to be carried out in CUC or CUP and with great difficulties ,due to the shortages of supplies in the stores that sell in the two national currencies.

Bishop Ismael Laborde Figueras, of the Lutheran Church in Santiago de Cuba, has made several efforts with the BFI, all without success, and has been one of the most insistent voices to ask for magnetic cards or cash access to funds deposited in that bank, the only bank authorized to receive donations from abroad.

The BFI has asked for “patience” and has explained that it is waiting for an authorization from the Central Bank, which still has not arrived months after starting the procedures. The bank also did not comply with the bishop’s request to withdraw $500 to buy supplies and pay staff for a spiritual retreat.

The BFI manager in Santiago’s provincial capital explained that he had no permission from the national level to deliver foreign currency in cash nor the corresponding amount on MLC cards.

“Our hands are tied because much of what we need to help the most vulnerable or to organize our retreats can now only be found in the ’dollar markets’,” said one of the members of the Lutheran Church who requested anonymity. “It’s been a long time and nothing is resolved, but it should not be like that because that is our money.”

“Products as simple as flour, coffee or toilet paper can now only be bought in foreign currency,” says the priest. “Even rice is no longer for sale in Cuban pesos, so when we organize a lunch for the elderly or prepare a meeting that includes food, we are required to have a card loaded with dollars.”

This religious institution recently received a donation from the Lutheran Church of Norway and is in the process of receiving a donation from the Lutheran World Federation, in addition to negotiating a second project with ELCA, another with churches in Norway, and one more with the Lutheran World Federation by 2022. If all of them materialize, the funds will accumulate in the BFI account, without any possibility of using them.

All these projects are intended to channel the distribution of food and cleaning products, as well as to finance psychosocial support activities, tasks that are becoming increasingly difficult due to the shortages that afflict the nation’s entire network of stores that take CUC and CUP.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.