Education, or Indoctrination in Castro’s Cuba
Nor do the teachers suggest their students to make an effort with the beauty of the Cuban trogon (priotelus temnurus), the beautiful bird adopted as a national symbol for showing the three colours of our flag.
No. Teachers ask them that they would draw Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s beret and Fidel Castro’s trousers.
For many readers in West, it may seem curious, striking, progressive and even coherent with the nation’s political line. For parents of young students, who begin their education it is suffering because they know their children will be indoctrinated during every school year until they will complete their University studies.
Children in primary school in Cuba have to draw not a flower or teddy-bear but the military pans of Fidel Castro.
“The real education of the masses can never be separated from their independent political, and especially revolutionary, struggle. Only struggle educates the exploited class.” (Lenin, Lecture on 1905 Revolution)
Indeed, Cuban education is free and public. Every boy and girl has right to attend classes and learn to read and write, but at the same time, they also have an obligation to place the Communist and atheist beliefs at the centre of their learning, over civic values, human rights, right to take on a political stance and religious creed.
A few months after the arrival of Fidel Castro and his troops to Havana in January 1959 — after the fall of the former dictator Fulgencio Batista — the revolutionary groups undertook a complete wipe-clean of the so-called “bourgeois values” in the education system of the country. In the gap that remained after destruction of the value-system that was previously taught, they imposed their own dogmas letting to grow the weed, which does not need fertilizer.
In addition to portraying members of government as example that should be imitated on account of their political accomplishment and ideological posture, the Ministry of Education officials invented also other indoctrination strategies. For instance, students of the secondary school had to stay full-time in their schoolhouses, separated from their families and under the baton of the so-called “emerging teachers”, known for their lack of competence.
Journalist Regina Coyula commented about these boarding schools: “What values will the younger generations convey to their children, after having been educated by emerging teachers, after learning firsthand that money buys favours, qualifications, and even degrees, after knowing that stealing is a synonym for problem-solving and making a living, provided that the State is the one robbed, after knowing that what matters, in reality, is political loyalty expressed out loud?”
When it is the time to access the job market, graduates of university in Cuba with any university degree — either in engineering, medicine or other specialization – have to work at the state institutions and organizations. They earn wage that is not higher than 20 dollars per month, currently an average wage in our country. As a result, many young professionals hang their university diplomas on the wall resigning from pursuing their profession to search for jobs that are paid in hard currency. Others are trying to establish a small businesses in the area of food services like small restaurant or bar that government permitted for private initiative.
Sadly, young people would rather forget what they learnt at University to take a job of taxi drivers (old American cars produced before 1959 popularly known as “almendrones”) to support their families, or work as tour guides and hotel concierges. University students in Cuba will always choose work provided by foreign employer, who will pay better salary than the rulers of their country.
In desperation some young graduates decide even escape Cuba to be free in other lands. What is worse, because of the failure of our education system, the values of professionals graduated from Cuban schools have been turned upside-down.
This is dramatic consequence of life in the situation of permanent disaster that led nation to ruin depriving it from freedom. The myth of the Cuban education conceals a reality of a perfect indoctrination program that was imposed by the tyrants as an instrument for enslaving of nation.
Education system in Cuba may be compared to the ideological tanks of a military dictatorship. Its popularity abroad is due to propaganda, which Cuban rulers — and their eager accomplices in other countries — are real masters.
Raúl Rivero is a Cuban journalist, poet, and writer. He is vice president of the press freedom committee of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) and collaborates with the most prestigious media in America and Europe.
He has published more than a dozen books of poetry, chronicles, and reports. He was one of the founders of the cultural magazine Caimán Barbudo in 1966. From 1973 to 1976, he was a press correspondent for Prensa Latina in Moscow and later became Director of Science and Culture of this news agency.
In 1991, he signed the “Letter of the Ten Intellectuals” calling for reforms in Cuba, so he began to suffer political persecution. In 1995, he founded the news agency Cubapress, independent from the Cuban regime. In 2001, he co-founded the first independent association of Cuban journalists. In 2003, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison for political reasons. Due to intense international pressure, he was released after a year and a half with his health very deteriorated and went into exile.
Awards: 1969 Prize David and 1972 Julián del Casal National Prize, both granted by Cuba’s National Union of Writers and Artists. 1997 Press Freedom Prize, by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). 1999 Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international recognition in the field of journalism, awarded by the Columbia University. 2004 Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, given by the UNESCO