Opening of a New Academic Year: A True Event

Raising the quality of education is an essential goal, for both general education as well as in the university. Several material and financial resources are devoted to achieve this goal.  

New opportunities and dreams start up today in all domestic classrooms with the opening of a new academic year (2017-2018), which not only involves children, youths, and adolescents, but also parents, teachers, and professors.  

In Cuba the beginning of every academic year is a true popular event. In the days prior the family takes care of preparing uniforms and other school materials, and at schools workers – both those who teach as well as support personnel - prepare the conditions so that institutions are clean and welcoming.  

Raising the quality of education is still an essential purpose in both the general as the university teaching, several material and financial resources are devoted to achieve this goal. Just to mention an example, the Ministry of Education (MINED) it has prepared for this year a budget of 14 million CUC (Cuban convertible) for the acquisition of material resources.  

Pass beyond difficulties - worsened by the blockade imposed for more than half a century by the United States - the Cuban State guarantees the basic materials to successfully complete the teaching-learning process.  

In MINED, New Things Appear  

Although the classes always begin in September, MINED long before begins to organize the coming academic year. Therefore, since the months of April and May it carries out a national training seminar that later is reproduced in the provinces and municipalities.  

Now, the newest thing would be the introduction of 152 domestic schools (at different levels) the first results of the third process of improvement, a research the organization has been working on in the last years.  

In this process are included the 1st, 2nd and 4th years of life of the First Childhood – earlier known as Preschool - and grades 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th, of Primary, Secondary and High school.

  

To cope with this experience, teachers and their bosses were trained, since new plans, programs, methodological orientations, textbooks and workbooks will be used.  

In this regard, Irene Rivera Ferreiro, Vice-Minister working for the First Childhood branch, recently explained that there are steps in the improvement process associated to Educa a tu Hijo Program (Teach your Child)*, and to that end new materials have been elaborated aimed at facilitating the training of families.  

She commented that in the Special Education particular emphasis is put on children with special educational needs associated to intellectual difficulties.  

"So far we have spoken of mental retardation and today we are moving toward another term, less derogatory. Hence we consider it a disability that affects intellectual development. The largest registration is found in this type of teaching therefore there are many children inserted in the Primary Education, where it’s necessary the training of teachers to assist scholars with those characteristics", she emphasized.  

In Secondary Education, said Margarita McPherson Sayú, there are several modifications. Although the subjects remain the same, the Natural Sciences is divided once more into Geography and Biology and they will be taught independently. She also indicated that Computer Sciences that was only taught in 7th grade now extends to 8th and 9th grades.

As regards pre-university, there would be a more direct look at Higher

Education, mainly from the organizational point of view.

According Mc Pherson, they are thinking to begin some activities,

especially in 11th grade, such as lectures, practical classes and

seminars.

For her part, the head of the sector Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella

highlighted that intensive works been carried out in all provinces and

territories as much in the repair and reconditioning of schools as in the

delivery of the basic school and life aids, and added that the school year

will begin in better conditions than in the previous stage.

Integration of all universities, an achievement

After several years assuming and applying an integration process, Higher

Education reaches this new academic year with that task concluded.

That has favored a more rational use of material resources and staffs. In

other words, pedagogical and sports universities have been affiliated to

the universities of the Ministry of Higher Education (MES) in each

province.

According to José Saborido Loidi, head of this institution, one of the

peculiarities of the school year that begins today is that a larger number

of careers join study plan E, which means changes in plans and programs,

and time reduction (four years) in certain specialties.

Now, the favorable results in the last entrance tests will allow that some

26000 students join the regular diurnal course; while 31000 others will

enroll encounter courses and 4000 the distance education modality.

Likewise general education, the university one –also despite shortages and

difficulties– has created all conditions to open its classrooms with the

support of an army of some 45000 teachers, who will have the high

responsibility to train their students academically and to foster

patriotic and citizen values in them.

Educational system in figures:

-Enrollment in general education: More than 1,750,000 students (the same

as in the previous academic year)

-Educational institutions: 10, 698,000

-Teaching coverage: It’s been guaranteed by 93 percent without the use of

alternatives (hired teachers, reinstated retirees, university students,

among others)

-Pedagogical schools (middle level): 26, including two newly inaugurated,

one in Havana and another in Guantanamo (Baracoa)

-Admission in pedagogical training with higher-middle level: It surpasses

9000 students, for a total number in the different study years of more

than 25000.

-Some 121,700, 000 9th grade graduates have been granted vacancies, which

represents 99,13 percent of the students who have decided to continue

their studies.

- Enrollment in Higher Education: 246,000 students and some 60,600,000 are

new.

*A non-institutional Cuban program that offers educational alternatives

for the children who do not have access to daycare centers, from before

their birth until their admission in 1st grade.

Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Chile: Students Protest to Demand Universal Education

Education in Chile is prohibitively expensive for many students, and leaves many more with crippling debts that generate huge rates of interest.

The Confederation of Chilean Students, also known as Confech, is holding a march on Wednesday to reject and oppose the proposed reforms to higher education offered by the government, continuing the movement for universal higher education in Chile.

RELATED: Colombia's 37-Day Teachers Strike Ends in Victory for Educators

The students are marching under the slogan: “advancing toward free public education, without debt.”

“We hope that all students, workers, officials, and those who believe that there must be deep changes in the education system can participate,” the President of the Federation of Students of the Catholic University, Sofia Barahona said.

The leaders of the Confech of Santiago have called the protests because they believe it is necessary to pressure the government from the streets in order to implement improvements to higher education.

Education in Chile is prohibitively expensive for many students, and leaves many more with crippling debt that generate large profits off of interest.

The fight for universal education access has become a swelling social movement in Chile, as many condemn President Michelle Bachelet's rolling back of many promised reforms.

In many protests in the past, state police have responded forcefully to demonsrators, using tear gas and water cannons to subdue the students.

“We call all Chileans to protest and express themselves, because this is the opportunity we have to rectify and dispute education in Chile,” Daniel Andrade, President of the Federation of Students of University of Chile said.

The protesters will march at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in Santiago and Valparaiso, as well as towns and cities.

  • Published in World

The family: The best thing that has ever been invented!

The International Day of the Family is held every May 15th and everything is allowed in this space/refuge, even to dream.

A simple glimpse into our lives, memories, what we have done or achieved, always leads us to the family; essential core that generally, guides, supports, boasts aspirations and the aims of those who make it up.

Little could be achieved without its support, so maybe it’s acknowledged that behind a successful outcome —in whatever sphere or sector of life— there are almost always husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, siblings and even children. Often, the latter, aware of the important work their parents do, take over daily responsibilities at home, among others.

The family is something unique, unequalled. It’s true that it cannot be chosen, and it is a real “fortune” when such an institution fulfills the aforementioned attributes. If it is not so, then it’s hard to figure out that victories can come true or be possible.

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Having it —in all what that implies— is to have support (economic and spiritual), relief on many occasions, refuge of love and affection. Counting on it is just to have and enjoy a home.

Family, education and wellbeing

I approach this issue on the occasion of this May 15, when the world —since 1994— celebrates the World Family Day. The date was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, taking into account the importance granted by the international community.

This year’s commemoration highlights the performance of families and the policies directed at them in the promotion of the education and wellbeing of all their members, particularly, early childhood education and continuous education for children and youngsters.

It also remarks the importance of family members devoted to the care of others, either parents, grandparents or siblings.

Moreover, it aims to highlight good practices in family and work life; to assist parents in their role as educators and caregivers, and to support working mothers and fathers.

The celebration seeks to foster debate on the importance of theoretical and practical knowledge needed to promote sustainable development, among other things, through education and the adoption of sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, and promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence, global citizenship and assessment of cultural diversity.

“Attached” to the “family”

After searching the internet about the subject I found some criteria from PhD in Psychological Sciences Patricia Arés that I would like to share with you on a date like today.

Devoted throughout several decades to investigate on this issue, the professor commented in the article “A look at Cuba’s model of wellbeing” that the Cuban family is interwoven in social networks of interchange with neighbours, organizations, schools and relatives, including emigrants.

“The characteristic thing of the way of life of Cubans are the socialization spaces or the social network that neither excludes nor unnames anybody”.

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According to the expert that “social networking” represents one of the major and invisible strengths of the Cuban model of wellbeing. It’s here where the main achievement of our social process lies, taking the forms of solidarity, social containment and permanent social interchange. “That capital is only perceptible to those who lose it and begin to live another lifestyle outside the country”.

She acknowledged that although we have economic difficulties and unresolved problems, Cuban families exist and begin to live intensively after their children, teenagers and young people return from school.

Here, family life —the expert commented— does not take place behind closed doors, because they are frequently knocked at by fumigation agents, neighbours, family nurses, grassroots leaders, or self-employed vendors. People need to leave home daily, to go to the store, visit their neighbours to pick some food items, take out the garbage, go to the pharmacy and fetch the kids from school.

So she assured that family life in Cuba is multigenerational, where all ages interact, and most senior people do not live in old people’s homes, but in their own community.

Contrary to that situation, Patricia commented —from her experience as a professor— that many realities from other Latin American nations have left her “puzzled”, because of the burden of accumulated social problems, not just in poor families, but of any social class.

“From what I hear I realize that we are light years apart, because the issue is not about economy, but about ignorance, accumulated mental poverty, social stigmas, class, gender and race prejudices, violence against women, magic solutions to problems without scientific basis, child sex abuse, polygamy, genetic defects due to irresponsible sexuality or incestuous relationships, these are all daily problems. They are problems associated to social neglect, the lack of social prevention programs. What is daily life for them is exception for Cubans.

Regarding its functions, an essential one

A lot has been said in recent times about what the family should fulfill. The specialized bibliography states they are aimed at meeting important needs of its members, including the sexual-affectionate ones, but not as isolated individuals but in tight interdependence.

It’s not the same to do something on the street, such as eating or listening to favorite music, or talking about a problem, for self-satisfaction, than doing it at home accompanied by a relative.

Among its functions highlights go to the educational, economic, biosocial and cultural-spiritual ones.*

Let’s focus on the latter, which is related to the activities linked to the cultural and recreational likes and interests of every person and the family as a whole; the wellbeing caused by their satisfaction or the frustration for being unable to achieve them, as well as the spirituality of its members.

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The biosocial function is linked to procreation and children’s upbringing, as well as sex and affectionate relationships of the couple. Meanwhile, the economic function, as its name implies, has to do with home supply tasks, consumption, satisfaction of a series of individual material needs, expense budget based on the income of its members, among others.

For its part, the educational function has a key importance and is closely linked to other functions previously mentioned.

Today, it is necessary to go deeper into it, because parents are the ones, so to speak, who build a family educational curriculum and have a decisive influence on the creation of the family educational scenario.

Likewise, the family participates in the full development of children’s personality, as well as the adaptation of children to social and school life.

At present, when countless distorting tendencies prevail and a crisis of values is acknowledged, family education plays a very important role.

Scholars on the subject talk about an overvaluation of the family’s economic function, from the financial situations that are lived worldwide and the fight for survival inside the homes. However, education must be at the forefront.

Communication with children, direct and systematic surveillance of their behaviour, concern for their problems and conflicts should not be overlooked. In addition, it’s essential to take into account that girls and boys, teenagers and young people do more what they see their parents doing than what they are told. Family education cannot be left aside; we must grab it by the hand and walk with it.

*Thus included in the leading book of UNFDA-MINED Project, by a group of authors.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff 





UNESCO Receives Exhibit of Cuban Illiteracy Campaign in 1961

Paris, Sep 16.- Concerning the activities in the UNESCO for the World Day of Literacy, Cuba showed an exhibition on the Literacy Campaign that constituted the base of its current educational system, reported Cuban ambassadress Dulce Buergo. Titled 'Education: Right of the People, Essential Tool Development', the sample exhibited photos, texts and diverse materials on the efforts at the beginning of the Revolution to teach to read and write the population, what allowed to declare Cuba a free country from illiteracy, in 1961.

Buergo, ambassadress of Cuba before UNESCO, said that the exhibition proposed the public a trip on those years in which 'the historical prowess of eradicating the illiteracy in less than one year and creating the conditions to guarantee the universal and free education in all the educational levels, was obtained'.

In statements to Prensa Latina, the diplomatic representative added that 'there was clearly the scope of this social project, carried out by the young people, of families of different social classes, which meant a real attack with pencils, notebooks and books, extended to everywhere and everyone in the island'.

The exhibit created a great interest among participants in the Day on Literacy, and presented the uniform, the notebook and the manual used by the brigade members for teaching.

Cuban Education Minister Ena Elsa Velazquez participated in the sample opening and exchanged with several participants on the experience of Cuba, also emphasizing the importance and the need for a political will to foster the objectives.

According to Buergo the sample was an excellent chance to celebrate 'the 55th anniversary of such a great social work as the Cuban Revolution is, the Campaign, its historical and social impact, which deserves to be always remembered, and transmitted to the future generations.'

The same way, the event was also 'a tribute to the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, in his 90th birthday.'

  • Published in Culture

Education workers will open May Day March in Cuba

Nearly 5 thousand education workers will open May Day demonstrations in all Cuban squares next Sunday.

The general secretary of the Education, Science and Sports Workers Union, Ismael Drullet, said that the decision to have educators leading the marches recalls the   1961 Literacy Campaign and the declaration of the country, some 55 years ago, an illiteracy-free territory.

Drullet recalled that Fidel Castro dedicated so many hours to education and affirmed that without education there could not be any possible revolution. He also stressed the need to keep preparing useful citizens, who can make a contribution to society based on a humane development, particularly in the current scenario marked by political and ideological confrontations.

We must protect our homeland with intelligence and this can only be achieved through the compromise of our teachers to form the new generations, he noted.

The unionist also called on education workers to implement the accords adopted by the 7th Communist Party Congress, held April 16-19, and to participate in the discussions of the documents approved at the event, which will be submitted to the consideration of large sectors of the population.

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