Cuban Education: Not Something Obama Should Praise

Blog Post - Cuban Education: Not Something Obama Should Praise

Upon Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, many liberal pundits have repeatedly praised Cuba’s educational “success”. They seem to forget that the reported “success” is not exactly the way it seems and does not translate into the results expected of Western education systems.

 

First of all, do not confuse “access to education” with “quality of education”. Sure, Cuba has high rates of participation and graduation, but the inner workings of their system are a lot different than mere statistics. Everything is completely run by the state; there are NO privately run schools anywhere in Cuba.

Karel Becerra, a former Cuban student and leader in the NGO Independent & Democratic Cuba, put it perfectly: “There have undoubtedly been achievements in Cuban education. From my personal experience, education in Cuba is less about learning and more a ‘system of indoctrination’ beginning in first grade.”

This indoctrination comes at a steep price. Teachers are required to adhere to a state-mandated curriculum that is built around espousing communist beliefs and virtues. Teachers who violate this curriculum, aptly named “Code for Children, Youth, and Family”, are sentenced to jail time. In fact, the system is founded on the stipulation that anyone who receives an education must actively promote government policies during and after schooling.

Here is part of the Code: No Cuban parent has the right to "deform" the ideology of his children, and the state is the true "Father.” Society and the state work for the efficient protection of youth against all influences contrary to their Communist formation.

The state Code also maintains files that document whether or not the child and family participate in mass demonstrations. It accompanies the child for life and continually updated. University options depend on their file. If a student does not profess a Marxist life, they are denied career possibilities.

On top of communist indoctrination, the system is plagued with problems. Teacher salaries are very low and many quit – only to be replaced by less qualified educators. Despite promises from the regime, their salaries never improve. The government openly admits that “instant teachers”, as Cubans mockingly refer to them, are under-qualified. Schools report high levels of violence, sexual assault, and theft amongst teachers and administrators.

To save money on bloated expenses, the government set up urban schools and shut down rural ones. Some of the rural “boarding schools” remain open. Students are sent there when the state deems it economically “rational” – you don’t have any say in the matter. For the other students, they were transferred into larger institutions where they spend the entire week; only returning home Friday.

This is not a system of education to be praised. It is brutal and centered around emboldening state power. There is no attention to the individual and everything throughout it is meant to indoctrinate communist values into children. Resistance to this education regime is met with violence.

 

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