HAVANA TIMES — When the Training Program for Chinese Youth was taken over by the Ministry of Higher Education, the Chinese students studying Spanish in Cuba began to experience the concrete effects of the project’s decline.
The budget was drastically reduced as the Cuban government took on a standardization policy, which consisted in reducing the once paradise-like conditions of the Tarara campus to the general level of Cuban universities.
The Chinese students began to get a small taste of the rough conditions faced by Cuban university students on a daily basis.
Their complaints didn’t take long as they saw themselves being directly affected by their loss of entitlements.
Their laundry and dry cleaning services were eliminated, as was their monthly toiletries supply; their cafes that had charged in regular Cuban pesos were closed and they lost their teacher-guides (which had been like nannies who would show them around and teach them).
Plus their room cleaning service was cut (which on several occasions ended up putting the school in danger of being closed by the Public Health Ministry).
And of course these cutbacks didn’t exclude the teachers.
The Chinese government — confronted with the general decline of the program — negotiated with the Cuban officials offering them the possibility of assuming the entire program costs, including the payment of teachers. All of this was for the sake of not seeing a decline in the quality of teaching or the overall quality with which the project was initiated.
The Cubans refused, though they couldn’t prohibit each student from receiving a monthly allowance of 200 CUCs (about $215 USD) from the Chinese government to cushion the situation they were experiencing.
Later, due to the continued complaints by the students, who wanted to spend as little time on the island as possible, the “4 plus 1” program was implemented, which consisted of them spending their last year of their program in China.
This overall situation ultimately led to a decision: the Chinese government decided to stop sending students to Cuba.