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October 2014
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Education, Bureaucracy and Society

Cuba: Education, Bureaucracy and Society
October 13, 2014
By Ariel Glaria

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban State spends a considerable part of its limited
resources on education. Why, then, is our educational system facing a

For years, thousands of teachers across the disciplines have come out of
educational institutions. One can deduce from this that, at one point,
education was only a political priority, but also a career with a
guaranteed future on the island. The principle was more or less as
follows: there will always be students and we can’t have a shortage of

Reality changed as of the 1990s. Teachers began to leave the classrooms.
The institutions where they were trained were left without students.
Teacher salaries stagnated.

Fields like tourism and others began to offer people new and better
options. During those years, the different levels of schools suffered a
mass exodus of teachers (a phenomenon that continues to this day) and no
coherent policy has been developed to revert the situation. Attempts at
this, like employing retired teachers, having young people go through
crash-courses so as to teach different subjects and, to a lesser extent,
calling on people from the community with some knowledge on a given area
have had a considerable impact on the quality of our education, without
solving the problem.

These are the main reasons behind the crisis, but they are far from
isolated facts in the new priorities for Cuban society. The teacher
exodus and the scant interest in teaching careers are the result of a
more profound change in the nation’s collective interests. The “crisis
of values” we hear about today is linked to this drastic change. But,
has there really been a “loss of values” in Cuba? If so, is it not
caused by the divorce between what was once taught and what is taught
today, both at school and outside of it?

Reconciling life and learning has been one of the greatest challenges
modern society has taken on to this day. The main concern of States,
education-wise, has been to make education suitable to life. To speak of
a loss of values is to speak of a twofold problem. Have we lost
something we believed in and was actually useful, or have we simply lost
values that reality, in its violent changes, has left behind as useless,
and that education has been unable to replace? We must urgently answer
this question.

Today, Cuba’s young make their way through a society that does provide
them with effective ethical instruments, instruments that could save us
from the country’s unwieldy administrative bureaucracy, an apparatus
that reveals itself as the owner of our spiritual and material values,
molding collective psychology to its own interests and ways of
operating. This apparatus has become a paradigm for society, an example
to follow. Inefficiency and corruption are its results.

The problem we face is the gap between school and society, between
education and life.

Without a doubt, the psychological model with which the bureaucracy
seeks to condition society has penetrated education, weaking the moral
referents that guide the young and, sometimes, going as far as replacing
such referents. The clock is ticking. The material and spiritual cost of
this is too high. The problem concerns us all.

Source: Cuba: Education, Bureaucracy and Society – Havana –

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