Be Careful Imitating Cuba’s Education Model

Erasmo Calzadilla 

Cuban university students. Photo: Caridad

A few days ago I was surprised when hearing the demands of student leaders in Chile.  One of them summarized their objective before the cameras saying, “We want the government to take over education.”(*)

Seeing how things are here in Cuba, I find it difficult to conceive how education could work well under the complete control of a government.

Here we know plenty about the problems that come from this way of doing things because we’ve taken it to its extreme.  There in Chile, on the other hand, the target of those protesting is privatization.

It’s necessary to look at what type of government they have in mind when making those kind of demands.  If it were decentralized and under strict popular control, then I would understand them completely.

Is that what those justifiably insubordinate youths aspire to when they ask for more government intervention in education?  Or perhaps they’re yearning for a powerful benefactor that manages business magnificently and can subsidize (at least partially) public services with its profits?  I don’t know.

It would be good for us to mutually nurture ourselves from each other’s experiences so that the hammering that we’re experiencing daily doesn’t thrust us headlong onto the other side of the pavement, just because it’s available.

* I heard this idea of the government taking over education from a university student leader who was interviewed on the street.  “La Mesa Redonda” (The Roundtable), Cuban state-run television program, was kind enough to broadcast that portion of the interview.  However I don’t know if they chose that fragment and the interviewee that most supported their views.  Later other student leaders placed emphasis in other aspects of their struggle, “Removing the profit motive.”  The government taking over education and ending the use of schools for profit are two similar and related but not identical proposals.



One thought on “Be Careful Imitating Cuba’s Education Model

  • Erasmo! Mi respeto por tu honestidad!

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