News and Facts about Cuba

Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher Shortages

Preparing For The New Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher
Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 20 August 2016 – The 2016-2017 school
year starts in just two weeks and the authorities of the Ministry of
are calling on people to take good care of school supplies
given “the economic limitations of the country.” Department head Ena
Elsa Velaquez Cobiella, also acknowledged the lack of teachers in
several territories, a problem that last year amounted to a deficit of
10,300 teachers island-wide.

For the upcoming school year, among the provinces with the most
significant lack of teachers are Ciego de Avila, where an exodus to
other lines of work has caused a shortage of 663 education
professionals. These positions will be covered, according to Barbara
Rodriguez Milian, Provincial Director of Education, with “personnel
contracted for on a hourly basis, a contingent, and
methodologists and the boards of directors of the schools,” as the
official told the local press.

In Villa Clara, meanwhile, Director of Education Esperanza González
Barceló recently acknowledged that there is “a deficit of over 1,000
teachers” in that territory. The official said that it was necessary to
“seek alternatives” to cover the deficit, and said she will appeal to
“professionals and college students, whether or not that have teaching
degrees,” so work under contract.

The limited number of staff is a problem compounded by the physical
state of the schools because, according to Gonzalez Barcelo, more than
60% of the schools in the province are in critical condition.

Santiago de Cuba province is one of the few that is in good shape, and
according to local media has “filled all the positions” and created “a
reserve of 620 teachers” for primary education. The department head said
that the territory has “met the needs for pencils, notebooks and
crayons” despite “the economic limitations of the country.

Education authorities have tried to play down serious deficit of
teachers in the media as September approaches, and during an appearance
in Camagüey, Velázquez Cobiella said that “more than 5,000 new teachers”
just graduated from the School of Education and will take their places
in front of classrooms nationwide in a few days, but that number fails
to cover the accumulated shortages.

In a measure to accelerate the training of teachers, for the next school
year, a teaching degree program will last only four years, not five as
it had been up until the last school year.

New scenarios, such as the restoration of relations between Cuba and the
United States have introduced some issues in the training of teachers, a
detail that was not absent from the preparatory workshops for the new
school year. Now teachers should emphasize during their classes on
topics related “to the teaching of history, the prospects of relations
between Cuba and the United States, the ideological and political
subversion,” among others.

Since the fall of the socialist camp in Eastern Europe Cuban education
has been undergoing an accelerated process deterioration, affecting
materials and educators. The complaints of the population over the poor
quality of teacher preparation, the reduction in the number of classes
and the excesses of ideology when teaching certain subjects, have grown
in proportion to the collapse of the sector.

The exodus of teachers into other employment sectors and led
the authorities to implement a teacher training program at the beginning
of this century called “emerging teachers” – that is starting students
not yet out of high school in teacher training programs and placing them
in front of classrooms with as little as two years of preparation – as
well as the introduction of classes taught by TV and videotape. These
measures failed and are currently being reversed.

Source: Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And
Teacher Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba –

4 Responses to Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher Shortages

  • It is sad to note that the Cuban education system is suffering from a lack of teaching staff, when there are allegedly so many under-employed, unemployed or simply doing “jobs” that are neither productive or necessary in Cuba. It should not be beyond the wit of a government to ensure that priorities within the employment sector are filled. A young boy that I know starts school next month, and I shall be interested to see if his circumstances and experience follow this pessimistic picture, or not in the future.

    • William, get real. People have to make a living. Teachers are badly paid, work in shitty schools, lack everything, aren’t allowed to make some extra money tutoring, … NOBODY really wants to be in a job like that especially when a goon of policeman (often corrupt) makes two to three times as much and gets a free apartment. The regime shows its true priorities in its treatment of teachers.

      • I shall comment on education again when I return from Cuba in September, after hopefully visiting the school where this 5 year old will start next month. The comment on tutoring is unbelievable, and I recall you explained this ridiculous policy in an earlier post.

        • William, you can’t bring yourself to criticize the real culprits of the disaster in Cuba. You won’t be able to do so after another visit.
          The comment on “tutoring was well documented in the past.
          FYI: to “fast track” graduates Cuba reduced by one year the r-training of teachers:
          Source: Las carreras vinculadas al magisterio durarán solo cuatro años a
          partir del próximo curso | Diario de Cuba –

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