The Rules at My Kid’s New School in Cuba

Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES — School started a week ago. Some inertia still stands in the way as kids gain more and more impetus and the drowsiness of the summer break wears off.

My son is already in the 10th grade. This both pleases and worries me, as I don’t know what this new school has in store for us – the normal anxiety a parent feels before new situations.

Something in particular is taking place at this school, however, that is cause for concern. At the first teacher-parent meeting, held at the courtyard of the school, where the principal practically had to yell (as there was no microphone), there was talk of the school uniform, and it was threateningly said that those who do not abide by the rules would be expelled and their name included in a mysterious list of sorts.

School regulations demand straight-cut pants for males and long skirts for females. No jewelry is allowed. Everyone is required to wear long, white socks. Sophisticated devices and cell phones are prohibited (they may be confiscated and returned at the end of the school year).

The issue that wasn’t addressed was the syllabus, a topic of crucial importance for students that concerns us all. It wasn’t discussed, as though it was something devoid of importance.

There are things that speak for themselves: 11th and 12th grade students wear their pants as they see fit and the teachers turn a blind eye on this, or simply don’t want to notice. They only seek to impose this degree of discipline on the rookies, through far from convenient methods.

At snack times, one can see many kids take out their cell phones to listen to music, play and even take pictures with their teachers.

On one of the following days, two students were made to stand before their peers at the morning lineup, so that these would be able to see the difference between the proper and improper use of the school uniform. In my opinion, this serves only to embarrass the student who does not wear the uniform as per the regulations.

Many students who wear the uniform properly are mocked by their classmates, leading to inferiority complexes, and ultimately change their appearance radically.

I have no idea what will happen in the future, but the fair thing would be to have everyone abide by the same rules, without any exceptions.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

8 thoughts on “The Rules at My Kid’s New School in Cuba

  • November 1, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Do you still have connections in Cuba? I would love to learn more about teaching there.

  • June 7, 2016 at 9:08 am

    hELLO, Is this school in Varadero an international school? Or just a public Cuban school? My 2 childeren are also half Dutch/ half Cuban, we like to move to Cuba, but for me the school is a sensitive point; its should be good…. I think there is only 1 international school in Havana isnt it? Isnt there an option between International School and Cuban Public school…?Hope to hear from you. Regards Esther from HOlland

  • September 18, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I would advise contributors to avoid using the e-mail address provided by Gordon Robinson. It will provide direct identification which can duly be provided to Machado Ventura. In Cuba that is dangerous!

  • September 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I have had the pleasure of serving on two school boards – with no remuneration! My wife has a very responsible role in a pre-University school in Cuba. I am in favour of school uniform. My reasons are that it removes all forms of social distinction. Secondly and especially with female students, it removes comparison of forms of dress which can act as a major distraction and also to bullying.
    If students are to concentrate upon studying, discipline within the school is essential. Teachers should not be a service to support parents. If the parents wish to see their children benefit to the fullest extent from their education at school, then the parents should support the teachers.
    Schools are not intended to be a social service. Their purpose is to educate by teaching. Parents have to get their own priorities regarding their children in order.
    For a father to declare the future occupation of children when currently in grades 6 and 8 perhaps reflects his own failed ambitions. No doubt instructions will be issued to the educational bodies that every provision will be made to ensure those academic qualifications.
    The statement that following achieving their roles as a Doctor of International Law and a Doctor of Surgery prior to entering politics in Cuba typifies the family background of playing a prominent role (Machado Ventura being a dedicated Stalinist) illustrates that no form of democracy is anticipated by the Castro family regime. Machado Ventura at 84 years of age being 2nd Vice President of Cuba. (He gave way as First Vice-President to Diaz-Canel when the latter was personally selected by Raul Castro Ruz to be his successor).
    Qualifications for entering politics in Cuba are as demonstrated, not a reflection of being selected by the people as they are in free democratic countries, but appointed by the ruling Castro family regime. The question is not what are your actual abilities and real qualifications, but simply “Who are you related to”. Such an attitude would rightly be condemned in any free democratic country and anyone supporting it should hang their head in shame!

  • September 15, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Yes in grade eight and grade six

  • September 13, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Seriously Gordon, they are in grade 6 and 8….. Just chill:)

  • September 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I personally think school uniform is a great idea, school kids are required to wear uniform, in a lots of countries that I know of. It is not only in Cuba, former USSR, China of the socialist countries but also countries like Britain, France, Denmark. Catholic schools in Canada, some private schools in the US…

    Some social studies done by various educational institutions had shown that uniform helps school children to move attentions away from how they look but more focus on their studies and social bonding and friendship…

    When I attending elementary school in China, my Mom used to alter my uniforms for me before the beginning of new school year, so that I could have some “almost new” to wear for my first day in class.

    Although I don’t agree on the way the school carry out the “penalty” but uniform at school, I am all for it.

  • September 11, 2014 at 11:31 am

    My two Cuban / Canadian children also started school in Varadero this past week. Michel is in grade 8 – Angelica grade 6. Michel is going to be a dr. of International Law – Angelica – Dr. of Surgery. After their education both are going into politics. They are directly related to the late Celia Sanchez and by adoption to the last First Vice President of Cuba – Dr. Jose Ramon Machado Ventura
    Gordon Robinson Port Alberni B.C.
    email – [email protected]

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