Cuba University Entrance Exam Course Reviews

Danae Suarez

The University of Havana.

This past Monday, course reviews began for students who are finishing the 12th grade and will soon be taking university entrance exams.  Last year this issue raised a great deal of controversy due to the disastrous test scores, especially in math.  Many parents complained that the exams were “too tough.”

In my opinion the issue is much more complex.  It goes beyond issues of the quality of televised reviews or whether the exam is too demanding.

The problem is the poor preparation acquired by these students, who for more than six years have been dragged along by a faulty educational system made up principally of “fast-track teachers” (youth who have not been assessed as to whether they have the aptitude for teaching; have not even been evaluated as to the degree or depth of their knowledge, and have been subjected to quick preparation with the objective of making up for our nation’s shortage of teachers).

Nor should we forget that during those years of educational reform, secondary education teachers (fast-track or not) sometimes taught up to four subjects.  This was an educational system comparable only to the lessons received by Alexander the Great from his teacher Aristotle.

To top it all off, and so as not to continue citing errors, let’s keep in mind that most of the time the classrooms were crammed with more than 40 students, a practice that was clearly at variance with their learning.

A couple years ago I had the chance to help my neighbor’s daughter review her mathematics course.  She had completed the 10th grade and wanted to go to the university.  To illustrate her confusion, all I have to say is that it took her two days to understand how the fraction ½ was the same as saying 0.5.

The results will be seen in the long term.  But it’s worth clarifying that — despite current good intentions — it’s not a review on TV that will define whether students come out good or bad on their exams.   It’s necessary to face the fact that these youth will continue experiencing serious deficiencies as a result of an ill-conceived educational system.  It seems that attempts are now being made to correct this situation, though in my opinion these efforts are too late.  The damage has already been done.

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Danae Suarez

Danae Suárez: I’ve always felt responsible for defending values that are eternal but unfortunately have been forgotten in a world that tends more towards the depersonalization of the human being. So what better place than my country to assume the task that each conscious citizen should assume: To work for a better society. I will never forget the famous phrase of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” I’m therefore committed to ensuring that my drop is not missing.

Danae Suarez has 26 posts and counting. See all posts by Danae Suarez

2 thoughts on “Cuba University Entrance Exam Course Reviews

  • I am sorry Danae but someone that gets to 12 grade and does not know how ton 1/2=0.5 should not go to any university.
    The first question to ask is how this person got to 12 grade without knowing this. She should not have pass 4th or 5th grade or whatever grade they teach fractions until she had learned this.

    They need a huge reform in the educational system and attract good teachers.
    For that money is needed. The same with the medical services they are also in huge trouble.

  • Danae, I enjoyed your article very much. After many years of teaching math in Canada, I
    realized that most problems in understanding “higher” math were due to not understanding fractions. The solution was to go back to the simple idea of cutting a cake into equal parts, and going on from there. The result was that many of the students, who at one time felt that they could not “do” math, went on to study it at the university level. Even one of my principals, who was observing me, admitted that he had never really understood fractions, but that my lesson had increased his understanding of the basics of fractions. Again, thank you for a most interesting article.

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