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CUBA IS THE FUTURE FOR LATIN AMERICA AND PERHAPS THE WORLD On my way out of Cuba, from La Habana, on COPA airlines flight to Panama, I w...

jeudi 30 avril 2015


BBC had an article about Access and Attainment of Education in Developing countries. Every one realizes that access to school has increased dramatically in the past fifty years.
From the BBC
There has been a convergence in the number of pupils enrolling in primary school, with many more young children in developing countries now having access to school.
But when it comes to average levels of attainment - how much children have learnt and how long they have spent in school - there remains a massive gap.
When it's shown as an average number of years in school and levels of achievement, the developing world is about 100 years behind developed countries. These poorer countries still have average levels of education in the 21st Century that were achieved in many western countries by the early decades of the 20th Century.
I just returned from an Art Exhibition with the theme of Ecology and Waste by Nursery school students! An absolute luxury but in terms of the Western Education, it is nothing out of the ordinary.
Then felt so sad thinking about my little friends in the beach town of Chaungtha, who were unable to continue their education and like most of the villagers became functionally illiterate.

Having been in Fort Cochin where it is customary to see oodles of kids scooting their way off to school in the morning, the disparities in education is not only quantitative but also qualitative. Cochin along with the state it is situated in claims to have a high literacy rate. It has many newspapers in the local language, also many TV channels. It has also a steady intellectual climate.
Few days later I was in La Habana, Cuba. Certainly no country, including many of the richer countries in Asia can compare themselves to Cuba where literary rates reach 100 per cent. Why are there no children in the streets, Rigoberto Menchu, the Nobel Laureate asked Fidel, while being driven away from the airport? They are at school, Madame, every single one of them.

I teach at the university in Cuba and I am always surprised at the high levels of curiosity and preparation of the students. The Cuban education is good not only quantitatively, but also it gets high marks in terms of quality.
One of the items of interest is that education is not commercialized in Cuba. If you are smart, regardless of your colour or origin or status, you can study as far as you wish to go. It certainly holds the distinction of the highest proportion of university and tertiary graduates, in all of the Americas. I was not surprised to read that nearly half of the migrant Spanish-speaking women (excluding Cuban migrants) to the USA had less than six years of high school! A situation such as that is impossible to conceive in Cuba.
Quality of education offered in many of the Arab and Asian countries is subpar. The school children in China often score higher than Western children in tests, but to me, it tells of their education in test taking. No wonder that one third of all graduate students at the university of Miami; a private university are from China. The first university degree from secular institutions in India is considered equal to a high school education in Australia.
(Women's education lags behind in many countries and many communities around the world)
The disparity is that not all bright children from India or China can afford to go abroad to study to get an education they deserve. The excellent local universities in China and India are extraordinarily competitive to gain admission.
It would be nice to live in a world where every child receives an education and that deserving children gain access to a quality tertiary education.  Instead of snatching away the best students from schools like Institute of Technology, it would be nice if there is a way that more people got an education similar to that and stayed in their own countries to make living better for all, not migrate and make only your personal life better
This is just a personal opinion. In the list of best universities in the world, not a single university appears from the Arab world or Asia (with the exception of Singapore and `Japan). Even in restricted lists of regional best universities, one sees a dearth of possibilities of higher education of good quality.
I see why BBC saw the hundred-year gap, and strangely enough this gap can only continue. If we spent just a small fraction of the money spent on arms and warfare on education, there would be many more Malala Yusufzai all over the developing world!
At the level of Countries, no other country in the world, educates poor deserving students from the rest of the world, free of charge, at a tertiary level than the little island of Cuba. Instead of keeping the brightest among them in Cuba or bartering them to another country, Cuba requires that they go home. On more than one occasion, fathers and mothers in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Ghana, thanking for the free education provided by the Cuban government for their children, have hugged me. This legacy of Cuba, this universal respect for education, will last forever. It has gained Cuba more respect than any globalization effort by major corporations for their countries of origin.
This trust has translated into a respect among the developing countries for Cuba. Many of the international conflict resolution, usually request a Cuban input, as happened recently signing of the peace treaty between FARC and the Colombian Government in La Habana.

Some interesting facts
Education expenditures continue to receive high priority, as Cuba spends 10 percent of its central budget on education, compared with 4 percent in the United Kingdom and just 2 percent in the United States, according to UNESCO
   Irrespective of income or place of living, education at every level is free
   School meals and uniforms are free
   There is a strict maximum of 25 children per primary-school class, many of which have as few as 20. As of 2010, secondary schools are striving towards only 15 pupils per class.[6]
   Many schools open at 6.30 am and close 12 hours later, providing free morning and after-school care for working parents with no extended family.[6]
   "Mobile teachers" are deployed to homes if children are unable to come to school.[6]
   A majority of Cuba's 150,000 teachers have a minimum of 5 years of higher education; about half have a master's degree.
There are now 23 medical schools in Cuba, up from only 3 in 1959 before the Cuban Revolution.[

A 1998 study by UNESCO reported that Cuban students showed a high level of educational achievement. Cuban third and fourth graders scored 350 points, 100 points above the regional average in tests of basic language and mathematics skills. The report indicated that the test achievement of the lower half of students in Cuba was significantly higher than the test achievement of the upper half of students in other Central and South American countries in the study group