A Second and Even More Important Literacy Campaign
A Second and Even More Important Literacy Campaign / Somos+, Guennady
Rodriguez and Javier Cabrera
Posted on August 24, 2015
Somos+, Guennady Rodriguez and Javier Cabrera, 17 July 2015 — The
literacy campaign was an important chapter in the romantic years of the
Revolution. Forgetting the propaganda factor, it was a national effort
and it brought out the most noble of its protagonists. To aspire for
every Cuban to be able to read and write is still a high standard for
our human and patriotic duty.
The results of the campaign were successful. Within only three years,
the illiteracy rate declined from more than 20% before 1958 to 3.9% by
1961. This brought opportunities to around 707,000 Cubans, who, as of
this moment, were able to have a broader access to information and
culture. This was the modern equivalent of getting Cubans “online” with
Today, however, we use criteria different from that of the 20th century
to determine whether a person is “literate” or not. In pre-digital
societies, people were only required to be trained in the print media.
In this century it is essential to know how to get to the information
and resources on the Internet, and how to interact in digital social
In 2015, Cuba stands as one of the least connected countries in the
world. This is a serious problem that the new generations are
inheriting. It is absolutely contradictory to be boasting about the
great aspirations of public education while limiting universal and
complete access to the Web.
This is a national emergency and it will not be solved with a
“drop-by-drop” Internet, because every day other societies exponentially
increase their skills in these information fields, becoming more
competitive. We know that there is a plan by ETECSA — the State
telecommunications company — to connect 50% of Cubans by 2020, but…
shouldn’t we be coherent with the standards of ha digitally literate in
less than three years…? For every day of delay our youth pay a high price…
Would the Cuban government and people be willing to promote a digital
literacy campaign, inside and outside the island, with the same
magnitude of the one in those inaugural moments?
The answer may be “no,” because the conditions are different; and it may
not be related to resources or awareness issues, but rather to issues of
control. In the previous literacy campaign, people received school
supplies, books, a backpack and a smile. It was simple and controlled,
like a movie script.
But this new technology has broken everything, so disruptive and
irreverent. Expectations are there before the first class; and how not
to fail? How to teach without speaking of packages, connections,
networks, scope, content, emails, opinions, blogs, online jobs, sharing,
etc.? However, not doing so evidences the failure. An illiterate man in
this century is a failed man.
For both cultural and spiritual purposes, Internet access and mastery of
its potential should be as high a priority as education and medicine are
today. The full access to information and the ability to interact
globally are today problems of human dignity.
It does not matter whether we can foresee a “no” for an answer. It is
our duty to put in the hands of the Cuban institutions our willingness
to bring a digital literacy campaign to our country, and to promote this
national effort as necessary, as our consciousness demands.
Source: A Second and Even More Important Literacy Campaign / Somos+,
Guennady Rodriguez and Javier Cabrera | Translating Cuba –