A Cuban School of Mediocrity and Sex

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 29 — “Students here have no interest in learning,” said the principal of the polytechnic institute where I recently started working as a teacher.

“Just take it easy; treat it like a way to survive, because if you try to force yourself it’s useless when you consider the immaturity and apathy of our students,” he concluded.

I suppose her words weren’t a call for under fulfilling my responsibilities. Her comments were only the result of the logical illusions that teachers bring with them when they’re new to this kind of school.

A polytechnic is a type of school which I assume exists in very few countries. They’re equivalent to senior high schools, only that when the student graduates, supposedly they’re ready to begin performing at a technical level in the specialty they studied.

Polytechnics these days are infamous for their high level of corruption. That’s why when a friend recommended me for the contract that I’m now working under, I thought I’d be able to earn a few pesos as well as have the opportunity to help people improve themselves.

The corruption in these schools — as everyone knows — includes teachers selling tests to students. For a minimum of 5 CUCs (about $5.50 USD) a student will pass, and for 10 CUCs they’ll get the highest grade in the class. It’s also common for there to be sex between male teachers and female students, whether or not it’s grade related.

In my short experience in teaching the subject of Spanish literature, what has caught my attention is the marked contrast between the sexual lust of these students and their immaturity as people.

It’s like watching children whose adult bodies sexual responses respond to the externality of their anatomy and not a maturity of their minds.

Their dealings with teachers generally go beyond the limits that should exist between a student and an educator.

Perhaps this influences the fact that most of the faculty is made up of former alumni of that same institution, without their having had time to gain experience, or educational or academic training.

What’s saddest is that the government requires the students to be promoted, without taking into account that the responsibility for these learners passing depends on their own work as much as on the teachers.

If almost everyone fails a test, the blame isn’t placed on the lack of generalized interest, but on the inability of the teacher, who will see their pay docked and will probably close their contract.

Collective experience has taught this to the students, who have also learned to keep their teachers vulnerable to blackmail in this respect.

In other words, the individual student doesn’t make an effort because the responsibility lies entirely with the teacher, regardless of the fact that none of them study anything at home, at least nothing other than reggaeton, dancing, fashion and cellphones.

A teacher has almost no tools to discipline or educate their students, not to mention their problems with parents, who only care about complaining to the school’s administration when their child is suspended or punished.

Of course the parent´s complaints are always damaging to the teachers.