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Monday, June 12, 2017

You could learn a lot about indoctrination and misrepresentation from the Castro regime in Cuba

What they don't tell you about "education"in Cuba

Clockwise: Harold Cepero, Sayli Navarro, David Mauri, Fếlix Yuniel, Karla Pérez
Pete Mandrapa, a teacher in Eugene-area schools, a member of the Eugene Education Association and the Community Alliance for Public Education has written an opinion piece for The Register Guard on education in Cuba concluding that the "treatment of its youth and the focus on education is exemplary." Mr. Mandrapa also added that "We have a lot to learn from Cuba and its people."

First we would advise him and other prospective visitors to Cuba to read Paul Hollander's Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society that studies and catalogs the strategies and tactics that totalitarian governments such as the Castro regime in Cuba use to misrepresent themselves. What Mr. Mandrapa experienced on his visit to Cuba was a Potemkin Village that has demonstrated its effectiveness in controlling the narrative with visiting groups. However with a few facts this fictional construct can crumble.

There is no right to education in Cuba if you dissent from the official line. Fếlix Yuniel Llerena López, a 20 year-old religious freedom defender, was expelled from the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical University in Havana on May 8, 2017 following a visit to the United States. 18-year-old journalism student, Karla Pérez González, was expelled from Marta Abreu University of Santa Clara for “political reasons” on April 12, 2017 and her expulsion ratified three days later on April 15th. 24 year old David Mauri Cardoso was expelled from the University of Cienfuegos in February of 2017 after he honestly answered politically loaded questions in what was supposed to be a Spanish literature exam.

This is not a new tactic. Expelling students and denying them an education for their political orientation has a long and shameful history, too often ignored. Sayli Navarro was expelled from her university in Matanzas for her political views in 2009. On  November 13, 2002 Harold Cepero Escalante and Yoan Columbié Rodriguez,  students in their fourth year of Veterinary Medicine, were expelled from the University of Camagüey and subjected to an act of repudiation after having signed a legal petition for human rights reforms called the Varela Project. This practice is not new. Fidel Castro declared in June of 1961 that outside of the revolution there are no rights. The regime also declared that universities are for revolutionaries.

However the persecution does not end with an individual, but family can also be targeted.  For example if you have a relative who is a dissident, although you are not, you can still be fired from your job. Professor Dalila Rodriguez from the University of Las Villas was expelled from her job on May 9, 2017 because her father, Leonardo Rodriguez is a dissident. 

Nevertheless, some still buy into the Castro regime narrative repeating the same old cliches on the Cuban education system that are not backed up by the historical record. First, according to the 1953 Cuba census, out of 4,376,529 inhabitants 10 years of age or older 23.6% were illiterate, a percentage lower than all other Latin American countries except Argentina (13.6%), Chile (19.6%), and Costa Rica (20.6%). Factoring only the population 15 years of age or older, the rate is lowered to 22.1%”  Other countries in Latin America were able to achieve similar literacy rates to those claimed by the Castro regime without sacrificing civil liberties. (1)

The Slovak-based People in Peril conducted a study between 2005 and 2006 that generated a 77 page analysis, "What is the future of education in Cuba?", and its conclusions were grim. According to Eliska Slavikova in an interview with El Nuevo Herald on October 23, 2007 observed ''Cuban education is destroyed, with grave problems like the deterioration of the schools, the predominance of ideology over teaching  and the bad preparation of teachers.'' The study made the following findings:

• There's been a ''pronounced'' departure of teachers to other jobs because of low salaries and the lack of social recognition.
• Many teachers also left their jobs because of the government's growing ideological pressures. The primary objective of education is the formation of future revolutionary communists.
• The great majority of schools lack the equipment and installations needed to provide a good education.
• High school graduates have been put to teach after only an eight-month special course. But much of the teaching now is done through educational TV channels.
More recent analyses of the Cuban educational system in 2014 and 2015 arrive at the same conclusions on lack of quality, resources and continued politicization of the curriculum.  The idea that some American educators view Cuba as an example that needs to be replicated in the United States should be grounds for malpractice. Cuba does not have an education system but a politically conditioned indoctrination system, that although deteriorated and not serving most young Cubans adequately, still manages to treat those who dissent even worse, often barring them from higher education on the island.