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Academic Fraud through the Lens of Cuba’s Official Pres

Academic Fraud through the Lens of Cuba’s Official Press
June 16, 2014
Erasmo Calzadilla

HAVANA TIMES — Alina Perera, a columnist for the Cuban newspaper
Juventud Rebelde, has attempted to go beyond the surface and get to the
root causes of the recent case of fraud at the University of Havana.

Her article, Falsedad, mala hierba (“The Weeds of Dishonesty”), almost
acknowledges the systemic and generalized nature of the phenomenon,
seeing it as a “matter that goes beyond the circumstantial, (…) that
goes beyond the context of the educational system.” Below is an analysis
of her analysis.

Beyond the surface, beyond the circumstantial, Perera stumbles upon the
“monster with a thousand tentacles.” Each tentacle is an ism or social
problem of the many that contributes to the practice of fraud. The
journalist emphasizes the opportunism with which people move up the
ladder, simplism, inflexibility, paternalism (the thin skin of
higher-ups prevents journalists from calling a spade a spade),
voluntarism and, for the main course, in the best eighties style,
commercialism.

If these are the tentacles of the monster and inspecting each one
separately leads us nowhere, then we have to get to the monster’s body,
the thing that makes everything else possible. Of course, taunting the
animal is a more delicate matter. Alina Perera avoids rocking the boat
too much or simply gets confused along the way, and the reasons behind
academic fraud become diluted and chalked up to Cuba’s eleven million
inhabitants.

Following her own line of questioning, the journalist should have asked
such things as: who made the terrible decisions that resulted in such
opportunism? Was it the teachers? Who gave rise to paternalism as the
prevalent relationship between those above and those below? What is the
root cause of bureaucratic unwieldiness and inflexibility?

Likewise, who came up with and immediately implemented the idea of
making up for teacher shortages through video-lessons and
instant-teachers? Why weren’t the resources invested into those
initiatives used to improve the lives of teachers, so that these didn’t
have to resort to teaching private lessons as a means of making money?
Who delayed the closure of countryside boarding schools if everyone had
known these were a genuine disaster for decades? And the most important
of all: how can such crazy ideas prevail over common sense?

As to the answers to these questions, shouldn’t an avowedly communist
newspaper suspect that a class confrontation hides behind pressing
social problems? When those who write for the paper tackle the issue of
education, shouldn’t their point of departure be Marx’s critique of
State schooling?

But, if attempting to dilute the “issue” in a sea of isms is suspect, so
is laying all of the blame on the Castros and thinking that a capitalist
Spring will flourish after their fall.

Source: Academic Fraud through the Lens of Cuba’s Official Press –
Havana Times.org – http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=104293

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