HAVANA TIMES – Cuba displayed its experiences and achievements in education at the Education World Forum, that was held in London on May 25, 2022. It called upon participants to come together to tackle cultural, technological, and political shifts today.
“Cuban education is in the process of reflecting upon its achievements,” minister Ena Elsa Velazquez said, when speaking at the plenary session of this event. However, some of us have testimonies from students at different schools in Havana, that call these erroneously named achievements into question.
Lisaira Ramirez Rodriguez from Santiago de Cuba, 6 years old, began to convulse while at school, we know from her family that the girl’s teacher used to physically abuse the young girl. The girl didn’t receive any help, an ambulance wasn’t sent over and she died after three hours in pain.
Katherin Rosaida, Havana, 12 years old: “My teacher shouts curse words at me in front of the whole class, I can’t ask for permission to go to the bathroom because she gets angry. She wrote a warning on my file, announcing that I can’t go to the bathroom during class, that I can’t talk, or even move because I’ll be transfered to a behavior school.”
Roberto Marin, 13 years old, Havana: “We smoke in the bathroom, the teachers know and don’t say anything because we hook them up with cigarettes too. The P.E. teacher helps us, keeping an eye out in case the director comes.”
Ana Laura, 18 years old, Havana: “My boyfriend is the assistant teacher of my hotel accommodation group, we’ve been together for three years. He left his wife for me, and you could say we’re in a serious relationship, everyone at school knows, the students, teachers, even the director. We have a normal relationship, almost all of the teachers at my school have relationships with the students.”
Antony Estevez, 14 years old, Havana: “I was really scared when I saw one of my classmates drink alcohol from antibacterial gel. He began to convulse in front of everyone, the teacher was in the lecture room talking on the cellphone and we shouted out to her, but she didn’t open the door. Luckily, it was just a scare, although they took us to the headmaster’s office and even called us little shits.”
Melissa Saavedra, 18 years old, Havana: “I’ve paid for my exams ever since 7th grade. At first, I paid the teachers with money and then they asked me for sex. I had already had sex with my boyfriend, so I had nothing to lose, and that’s how I was able to go from a 70 to 100 in all my subjects. Those teachers would call me for a “revision session” after 12, when everyone left to have lunch and I would go into the classroom and they’d begin to touch me, then take photos of me naked, which they said was for themselves, but I didn’t like that at all because if my parents found out they’d kill me. Plus, I was terrified they’d post my photos, but I continued to do this until I finished high school.”
Cuban schools have become political indoctrination centers, they don’t facilitate education, or develop critical thought, or collaborate in a child’s development in terms of respect and proper social conduct. All I can say is that education in Cuba is a reflection of a society that has lost all of its values and thrown them out of the window.