School has started in Cuba and…

Paula Henriquez


HAVANA TIMES — We’ve been hearing on the radio, TV and reading in printed and digital newspapers about the beginning of this school year for quite some time now. In fact, this routine is repeated every year.

The speech is always the same, just the voices and names of those giving them change. That the new academic year will start and schools will be ready, that they will teach all the subjects, that teachers will be waiting with a smile for children in their classrooms…

And this might be true for some schools, but I know for a fact that in a lot of schools the reality is very different and far from this picture they’ve painted.

I learned through a friend who has a 7-year-old daughter who has just started second grade, that she doesn’t even have a teacher and that the teacher’s assistant (those who support teachers in their classes) will be the one to teach these subjects.

If you are familiar with Cuba and its education system, you should know that in the majority of schools, teacher assistants don’t have the best training and studies to teach children these essential subjects… and a lot of the time they don’t have the best moral education to teach either. If you don’t know Cuba… then now you know. Not to mention the fact that a lot of the time teachers don’t always have the best teaching methods…

Sometimes I get scared thinking that in just two years, my daughter will be old enough to go to primary school, where they no longer sing nursery rhymes or play children’s games. Where it’s more important that you give gifts to teachers frequently and especially on special days, because the abuse of teachers on children can be seen in a thousand different ways…

While the education a child receives at home and takes to school is crucial, the education they receive at school is just as important because, by spending most of their day at school, every action they see there influences children positively or negatively too. This is pretty much common sense and we shouldn’t really have to say it, but it seems that very few people understand this.

We already know that the problem of shortages of teachers and teacher assistants is a subject that has been debated more than enough. We already know that teachers’ salaries are not enough… less than not enough when we’re talking about this profession.

However, they shouldn’t be careless with the education of those who will be our future because of this, without caring about where life will take them further down the road, because what they learn, what’s instilled in them from the crib, good or bad, tends to follow them throughout their lives.

Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

One thought on “School has started in Cuba and…

  • I am told by Cuban teachers that children are apparently receiving less and less parental guidance at home and that this results in the teachers having to increasingly provide instruction in manners, courtesy and general standards of behaviour.
    The consequences of the teachers having to partially fulfil parental roles during classroom time and duties and having consequently less time to teach their subjects, are a deterioration in education.

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