Cuba Always Skimps on Resources for Education and Teachers / Dora Leonor Mesa

It is my duty to refute the following public statements: “Cuba does not spare resources for Education” (Juventud Rebelde, August 26, 2011. Print Edition), “… is an education (Cuban) that has been developed in constant conflict with the aggressive policy of the United States …” (Juventud Rebelde, October 19, 2011. Print edition). I just want to point out some ways to not make too long a list where the keywords are lack and scarcity:

1. 45% of Cuban schools have no telephones. Cuban firms and companies that have abundant hard currency, such as ETECSA, the phone company, do not have plans to support the Ministry of Education.

2. Most Cuban teachers and professors do not have media technologies such as flash drives and computers, which in addition were banned for years, with private purchase prohibited.

3. Much of the current Cuban teacher technology training suffers from the need to share knowledge successfully with education professionals from other countries.

4. As officials from the Ministry of Education(MINED) have publicly stated on Cubaeduca websites and online Cuban newspapers Cuban, the schools have computers at a ratio of 1 to 20 students.

5. The school technology available is obsolete and scarce.

6. Schools do not have internet access and those that have it, have a very narrow bandwidth, controlled by censorship.

Some seek to attribute the educational disaster to the U.S. embargo and the Ministry of Education. Something like the famous phrase: “The fault of all lies with all.” Maybe I should say “the alls” …

Although the current Cuban education is going through a crisis, defending the criteria that give Cuba a prestigious reputation for its education system. However, it doesn’t merit it, I believe, the availability of resources for many years have been insufficient. The real perpetrators and promoters of the successes have been, in large part, the Cuban teachers have done wonders out of nothing.

We must also mention the ex-president Fidel Castro, with his charismatic and populist leadership… and unquestionably highlight the contribution of books and consultants who come from countries like East Germany and the Soviet Union, possessing a vast cultural and scientific culture, both formed by world-class names as Mendeleyev, Pavlov, Koch … This influence benefited, there is no reason to deny it, Cuban pedagogy, which in all ages, has always been attentive to the progress and pedagogical innovations.

In this small island, a notable Cuban personality says with good reason: Here prosperity is demonized. When a teacher or teacher have several resources for their classes, they will face, first of all, questions about how they come to have them.

Research confirms that talented teachers give more importance to good working conditions than to salary (Protheroe, N., Principal’s Research review, vol. 6 Issue 1, 2011). Surveys show the unquestionable impact of good working conditions in the high retention and recruitment of new teachers.

Just 50 years ago any Latin American country was much richer than South Korea. According to the UN today South Korea has higher income per capita than any of them. The secret lies in a high quality education system.

Cuba has been living in the XXI century for a decade. You can not go back to prehistory, dinosaurs disappeared, Cuba was declared more than four decades ago “Territory Free of Illiteracy”. Am I wrong?

October 28 2011