Education or Indoctrination?

In 1960 the control and unification of textbooks was implemented in Cuba, a tightening of the screw on the pedagogical process. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eloy M. Viera Moreno, Havana, 6 March 2021 — Since the publication of his Aphorisms,José de la Luz declared the importance of teaching for the development of Cubanness: “We have the teaching profession and Cuba will be ours.” He demonstrated it on a personal scale from his school, El Salvador, training future fighters for independence. However, some students indifferent to politics also passed through there, and others were definitely opposed to our sovereignty. This education generated in its pupils their own thoughts and values and the teaching was based on the personal testimony of a life turned into a living gospel.

Later, the democratic experience of nations allowed the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a power exercised in the past was conceptualized: “Parents will have a preferential right to choose the type of education that will be given to their children.” To facilitate the exercise of this right, in Cuba there were public, private and religious schools, with different methodologies and styles. From the time of Bishop Espada until 1959, the compass of the Cuban teaching profession was to create a school of science, conscience and virtue, all with a Cuban stamp.

With the turn to Marxism, the teaching profession took the Soviet course applied in all the socialist countries of Europe. The process was accelerated, despite freedom of education being among the freedoms granted by the Basic Law of February 1959, theoretically in force until 1976.

The campaign to nationalize education met useless resistance from educators and parents. A foreboding phrase from the Diario de la Marina of 1960, in addition to describing the moment, summarizes what happened in the last six decades of our reality: “The nationalization of education is nothing more than the enslavement of science at the service of power and subject to its interests. And this is an infallible tactic of every totalitarian government, beginning with the communist one. Consequently, what should be a simple means of spreading illustration becomes a weapon of a political party, of sectarianism, of personal passions. ”

It all started immediately after the triumph of the Revolution with the so-called education reform. For almost two years, the official speech was full of deception and demagoguery. A convoluted statement in October 1959 by the Minister of Education Armando Hart determined in a hyperbolic way that to use the fear of communism in reference to the Revolution was to go against the popular process; from which the terms “anticommunist” and “counterrevolutionary” were dangerously synonymous. Successive subsequent official declarations promised that private education would not be eliminated, especially Catholic, a treacherous campaign in which Hart himself played a prominent role.

First, in 1960 the regulatory power of the Minister of Education over both types of public and private education was defined, being subject to official orders. The control and unification of teaching texts was implemented, a tightening of the screw to the traditional methodological inspection of the State on the pedagogical process. Subsequently, the function of teaching was declared public and its provision free, and it was established that this function corresponded to the State, a measure from which only religious schools escaped. Later, the Educational Planning Commission began to operate under the direction of the minister and began to discard or modify the previous textbooks. Starting from nothing, communist intellectuals such as Carlos Rafael Rodríguez and Sergio Aguirre began to write the new textbooks to teach the History of Cuba.

The reform ended at dawn on May 2, 1961, when hundreds of militiamen, following Fidel Castro’s directions, occupied the surviving private schools. The Education Nationalization Law was issued a month later. It was officially announced that Russian would become a compulsory subject in our schools, for which a group of 2,300 teachers would be trained. That nonsense was finally unfulfilled thanks to popular resistance, although we were indeed able to study that language through broadcasting.

Today, the discourse of a government – which is the “continuity” of that one — labels independent journalists and opponents of the regime mercenaries at the service of powers beyond the seas. Following that line of thought, let us remember that thousands of miles of land and sea stretch between Havana and Moscow; our commercial relations had been minimal until 1959; our cultural contacts even less so; and the influence of their way of life in our history and national traditions absolutely null. Consequently, the leaders who then promoted the turn to Marxism deserve the same label.

From then on, I repeated at school: “We will be like Che!”, although my mother spoke to me later at home about his violent executions, hoping that her son was not like him. My children also repeated the slogan in their school, while their parents taught them in the shadow of the home all the aspects of the life and work of the “Heroic Guerrilla.” Finally, my first grandson, also a student of those centers of indoctrination, came to ask at home: “Dad, is that Fidel you are talking about, is he the same one they teach me about at school?”

This long chain of several generations indoctrinated by the “reformed” Cuban School, swimming in the depths of double standards, qualifies among the fundamental causes of the current loss of values ​​of all kinds, especially those that promote citizen participation, the construction of the nation.

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