Throwing Out the Sofa / Rebeca Monzo

Again, the education sector is marred by scandal: the theft and sale of the questions for the eleventh grade exams. Apparently all or most of the municipalities of Havana are involved in this crime.

It is not the first time this has happened, and the media haven’t reported it. As usual, the news comes through the students and their parents, close to us, almost always neighbors, who have been affected by these events.

There have been meetings between the teachers and the parents of the students involved in the various schools, and the approach of the teaching profession, in my view, is not the most correct, and far from effective: “Don’t give your children so they can’t buy the exams.” This reminds me of the famous story of the cuckolded husband who comes home and sees his wife snuggling on the sofa with her lover and, enraged, decides to throw out the sofa.

Once more, they want to suppress the effects without deeply analyzing  the causes. This has been happening in our schools for many years. It’s not news to anyone, but the State continues to pretend that does not happen, and continues to offer very favorable statistical figures to United Nations whose officials disseminate the information without taking the effort to verify it.

It is more or less the same policy used by public employees in our country: “The State pretends to pay me and I pretend to work.”

As long as the Ministry of Education does not decide to end this fraud once and for all and demand accountability at all levels, this situation will repeat itself and the quality and prestige of education in Cuba will continue to decrease.

According to popular comments, too widespread not to be true, even the University hasn’t escapes this scandal. It is said that they have been forced to send the entrance exams under guard by the TrasVal (“transfer of values”) Company, which until recently was used, as its name implies, to guard considerable sums of money and other things of value.

If we “throw out the sofa”* and don’t denounce these irregularities and crimes, we would be contributing with our silence even more to the “downward spiral” into the abyss, to something as important and precious as education and its prestige. We remember that mistakes in this sector are paid for over the long-term, when there is virtually no solution.

*Translator’s note: A common Cuban expression that comes from the following joke: A man comes home to find his wife and her lover having sex on the sofa. Enraged, he throws the sofa out the window.

21 June 2013