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

Brazil Students Occupy Schools to Protest Neoliberalism

Students protest drastic educational cuts proposed by the unelected government of President Michel Temer. 
 

Students protesting the neoliberal educational reforms of Brazil's unelected President Michel Temer have expanded their nationwide occupation to at least 1,108 public schools and universities across 19 states, and the Federal District that contains the capital of Brasilia.

RELATED: Brazil Is About to Institutionalize Neoliberalism For 2 Decades

The protests are led by the Brazilian Union of Secondary Students, known as Ubes, and other local organizations critical of the Temer administration's revisions to the high-school system and the so-called PEC reform, which among other things will end public subsidies to students older than 20 years.

In the state of Paraná alone, students have occupied 851 schools, another 66 in Minas, 13 in Rio Grande do Sul and 10 in Rio Grande do Norte, and Goias. In the Federal District, and Rio, there are seven occupied schools apiece and in the largest state of Sao Paulo, five schools.

The Brazilian constitution stipulates that 18 percent of the country’s total federal tax budget be allocated to education. But the Senate is trying to reduce that figure.  

If approved, PEC 241 would cut government expenditures over the next two decades, reducing it as a percentage of national GDP, which critics argue would translate into an onerous burden on the poor.

RELATED: Brazil Teen's Tragic Death Sparks Backlash at Student Movement

Michel Temer, who led the parliamentary coup against President Dilma Rousseff, has introduced a series of sweeping privatization proposals and cuts in education health and other social programs, since he was sworn in last August.

Temer faces very low approval ratings at home among Brazilians. He is scheduled to complete Rousseff’s presidential term until the next scheduled election in late 2018, and his government is pressing accusations of corruption against Lula, who is the odds-on-favorite to recapture the presidency.

  • Published in World

Mexico: Relatives of Disappeared Students Plan Hunger Strike

The relatives demand the government to allow interrogations of the military officials allegedly involved in the disappearances

The relatives of the 43 disappeared students from the Rural School of Ayotzinapa informed on Sunday they will be starting a hunger strike at the end of the month, until the first anniversery of their children’s disappearance on Sept. 26.

“We will go to the embassies... and do the hunger strike until they return our children,” Maria Concepcion Tlaltempa, mother of one of the students, told EFE.

A total of 35 relatives arrived Sunday in Guadalajara, the capital of the western state of Jalisco, along with other students from the Ayotzinapa school. They were part of the “Northern Caravan” that was initiated on July 29 and crossed the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas and Guanajuato, and meant to conclude on Aug. 11 in Michoacan.

On the Aug. 26, the relatives have planned to visit all the foreign embassies, in order to ask them to support the request of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights – part of the Organization of American States: the Mexican government should allow judicial authorities to interrogate the military officials from the 27th Battallion of Iguala, allegedly involved in the disappearances.

One month ago, the Mexican attorney general's office announced it will resume its investigation, during a meeting with relatives of the missing students – for the first time in nearly four months. Relatives had previously broken off talks with the government due to frustrations over the course of the investigation. It did not precise which lead would be followed.

According to the government, the students were murdered and burnt by members of the criminal group Gerreros Unidos, a version that their relatives question as an international team of forensics were not able to match the ashes with the students DNA. The attorney general's office had declared the case closed in December, having determined that the missing students were killed and their bodies burned, after they were turned over to an organized crime group by municipal police.

  • Published in World
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