Cuba Attacks Professors and Teachers / Dora Leonor Mesa

More and more often, young students participating in international Olympiads and international contests choose not to return to Cuba. Some of the causes of such a decision are based on the constant threats and demands faced by Cuban professors and teachers.

These talented students have witnessed how those who have academically prepared for years, have never been selected to accompany them in competitions. They know that knowledge is not sufficient to join the national team in pre-determined subject: computing, mathematics, chemistry … Their family is also part of the selection. A little doubt about the political affiliation of the parents automatically disqualifies them.

In the end, among those chosen are those who most meet certain requirements. The rest of the brightest minds in the country, many of whom, today, are outstanding professionals in universities and companies around the world, were never selected.

The process undergone by those aspiring university students hoping for a scholarships for five weeks of study in American universities is a scandalous secret. Some were expelled from the University with great trickery. It was recommended to them to ask for teaching leave during their study vacations, so they could more easily receive permission to leave, they told them.  Then the authorization never came and they could not continue studying. Imagine the pain on the part of the faculty at losing excellent students.

Now there is talk about what happened to university English professors who took on-line courses. Excellent courses that greatly influenced their professional competence. Suddenly they dropped out. Shamefully, they gave a childish excuse, though word of mouth says that there were threats from “above” that they would lose their jobs or there could be negative effects on their retirement. They’re all between a rock and a hard place. They have a sword hanging over their heads. I have no idea if UNESCO is aware of what goes on.

Cuba is trying to spark an interest among youth in becoming teachers. You don’t have to be very smart to recognize that no one is interested in exercising their profession facing a firing squad. The bullets are lead or iron. They are of a material more difficult to identify, full of humiliation and fear.

The great minds fleeing Cuba is not a “brain drain” as they try to make the world believe. They leave to restore their self-esteem, looking for freedom of thought, the generator of academic excellence.

A professor, a teacher, is a thinking being, forger of souls and the future. If they are disgraced in front of the student body, suddenly it seems like it’s all over, they managed to subjugate thinking and ideas. However,  it is when this fierce and unrelenting criticism begins to build up, that youth abandon Cuba wherever and whenever they can.

21 June 2011