The AACRAO Cuba Project: A Blog Series with Martha Van Devender - Part 3

Part 3: On Teachers, or the Education of Educators

In Cuba I heard it said several times that education gets the second largest piece of the national budget, around 44%. I couldn’t find any good stats to back that up. I didn’t look super hard. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. Anyway, I was really impressed with their education ideals. We spent most of our time with different kinds of educators. The Cuban colleagues who were traveling with us all are some of the top professors in their field. They taught the students who would go on to teach the next generation of teachers. 

Everyone I met was so well-educated. Their educational heritage includes the Cuban Literacy Campaign in 1961. Events like that had a dramatic impact on the role a teacher played in the national imagination. And the teachers, in particular, value education. Even the kindergarten principal is likely to have a doctorate. Many of the universities have offices dedicated to improving higher education, Centro de Estudios para el Perfeccionamiento de la Educación Superior (CEPES),  and thus continuously offer opportunities for local teachers to upgrade throughout their career. I guess it makes sense. It is the epitome of the education for all ethos. If education is free and you qualify to keep going, then why not?

Library at Universidad de Matanzas. I later found there are a few different libraries.I still don’t know where this one fits in size-wise. It sounds bigger than the one my colleague described.

People also told us that the educational reforms were not specific things. They were all part of an ongoing, ever-changing reform. Reform is more of a state, and there are specific instances within that which are relevant. I can’t help but think of it as a rolling stone.  It seems to kind of roll along chronologically, but not at any set pace. And I think there might be a disconnect between what the ministry in Havana and the universities want and what is actually happening with students on the ground. Several sources confirmed that there can be programs with 4-year students (new curriculum), 5-year students (old curriculum), and 6-year students (old distance/part-time) all running at the same time. Maybe it is just a delay between legislation and implementation. It makes it harder to do research.  But there is a goal to shrink the 5-year programs.  So be on the lookout for new curricula.

AACRAO group leaders relaxing at APC headquarters. This felt very Cuban. We got to climb on the roof!

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Martha Van Devender  is a Senior Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2005. She specializes in education from Anglophone Africa and Latin America. She is also interested in online research and verification tools.

  • Laurie Cook

    Martha, I'm enjoying your Cuba Project blog and photos.  Thank you for sharing!  Laurie Cook, University of Denver



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