Education Reform

Economic efficiency
also applies to education

"For us, efficiency is the consequence of everything which has happened before, and it is also an economic problem. Students who opt out of teacher training schools, polytechnics or elementary schools, are students in whom resources have been invested and lost."

Yenia Silva Correa

DURING the last two years Cuba has been redesigning its strategies in order to enhance the training of its teachers, reduce spending without affecting class quality, use resources rationally and encourage students to train in pedagogical and technical careers.

These topics were widely discussed during the 6th Congress of the Communist Party and were included in the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution. Materializing them must involve teachers, families and the community as a whole.

In the context of training and improving the standards of teaching personnel, Enia Rosa Torres Castellanos, advisor to the Ministry of Education, emphasized the need to extol the role played by teachers and to ensure their ongoing professional improvement.

“We have a system of activities related to vocational orientation toward teaching careers with a model which moves from the pre-school to high school level and links children with their teachers’ activities,” Torres said.

Two years ago, teacher training schools were reopened for ninth-grade students in the specialties of elementary, special and pre-school education. “Most of the students studying in these schools move into elementary education,” she noted. “If we have well trained elementary teachers, able to educate children as true patriots, with the necessary basic knowledge for this level, then learning at secondary and pre-university levels can be achieved with better quality.”

The decision to extol the work of teachers has brought about a change in the curriculum of teacher training institutes.

Starting this educational year, graduates from secondary and vocational education are being trained in these two specialties and will be able to teach at secondary and pre-university levels. Meanwhile, students in the country’s training colleges will spend their first year studying and undertake their teaching practice at various schools in the final years of their careers.

All of these measures will contribute to raising teachers’ professionalism, Torres commented. Changes have also been introduced in modules for upgrading teachers who are directly working in schools by offering them specialized courses, Masters’ degrees and doctorates.

Attention has also been given to working toward teaching and learning processes and educational institutions linking instruction with education. “Our schools cannot be places where students attend just to learn what appears on the curriculum, they need to be both trained and educated.”

Although this is a precept which has always been part of Cuban educational practices, one of the guidelines adopted at the Communist Party Congress deals with the role played by the family in the education of children and young adults. In this context, she emphasized that schools must radiate education to students and their families.

“We have the duty to guide our students’ parents and relatives so that they can effectively exercise their responsibilities in educating their children; this also involves the community as a whole,” Torres noted.

It is essential to promote the recognition within Cuban society of technical staff and qualified workers. National needs make the training of skilled workers and middle-level technicians and engineers in the production and services sector a priority. In this regard, Torres stated, “It is key to give prestige to technical and professional education, to polytechnics and to the work of students being trained in varies areas of production and services; thus work undertaken in conjunction with families from secondary education onward is very important.”

A trend in the last two educational years reveals that 58% of students graduating from the secondary level move on to technical and professional schools. The majority of these students are training as skilled workers under the guidance of 3,450 specialists in the field of production.

“A strong link with institutions in the sectors of production and services is necessary in terms of ensuring that the guideline related to the need to meet labor force demands is met,” Torres added.

In previous school years, the reorganization of the school network began with the transfer of pre-university boarding schools to the cities and the regrouping of rural schools with a roster of less than five students.

As the Ministry of Education advisor noted, this is a gradual and constant process, aimed at maximizing human and material resources in the various institutions, saving resources and reducing spending.

As part of this policy, schools with less than five students have been closed, and different options have been proposed for students affected to continue their education according to the demographic characteristics of each place.

In this process of updating the Cuban economic model, efficiency has become a key topic which also applies to education. “For us, efficiency is the consequence of everything which has happened before, and it is also an economic problem. Students who opt out of teacher training schools, polytechnics or elementary schools, are students in whom resources have been invested and lost.”

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Anthony #

    Are there programs in the US that provide training for parents, that want to help their kids excel in school?

  2. theaveeditor #

    This is a great question!

    I suspect there are BUT I also suspect they are too patronizing to work! One effort that I have heard about in Boston brings Ivy faculty to a central city school BUT not as gurus. Ins tead they attend social events, FOOD, where they can mnore casually interact witgh parents.

    I would bet a program of the sort you are asking would be very popular .. focus on oarents? What a great idea!

    This might also attract some African American, Indigenous American, and Hispaniv American middl3e clas folks who would otherwise not take part.

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