Painful News

Regina Cano

Foto: Caridad

The falling of a 13-year-old girl from the fourth floor of her school building has shocked everyone who has heard the story (though I think relatively few people have).

The girl was in intensive care for five days, but tragically she died.

On Sunday September 18 in east Havana’s Alamar neighborhood, an eighth grade teacher called on some of her students to create a mural in her classroom.

The 22-year-old teacher had just graduated this past July, but she was still living in a dorm here in Havana since she’s originally from Santiago de Cuba.

The school year began in September and each school was given the task of cleaning up and making repairs over the vacation period. However, in this room was a broken window that was also missing a few blinds.

During the previous school year, some students had gone out the window onto a foot-wide ledge outside the classroom – something for which they were punished.

The day of the incident, the teacher went downstairs at some point to make a phone call during which time the girl who died went out onto the ledge with a girlfriend. The friend came back in and apparently the girl fell afterwards.

According to someone close to the events, the little girl who died was from a dysfunctional family, which is common in Cuba. She had also made previous attempts on her life, though I don’t know if that fact was associated with the tragedy.

On the other hand, the teacher is someone who shows signs of deep insecurity, according to that same person who explained to me what happened. The instructor is the eldest daughter of a low-income family; she came to study and work in Havana apparently because of the need for teachers in our city, which obviously meant more opportunities for her than staying in Santiago de Cuba.

A friend told me that she herself used to conduct “personality tests” on teachers to establish their level of responsibility. So who failed in this case to analyze all the features and capabilities required for teaching, which includes not only being able to acquire and transmit knowledge?

And who forgot to cover the hole in the window (if only with some pieces of wood diagonally across it to discourage the habit of climbing out onto the ledge)? It’s not the first time that school buildings of this same “Giron” design have had students walking out onto their ledges or hiding on them.

So people! Faced with the need to make up for the shortage of teachers, we are training anyone who comes along, perhaps without appreciating the full limits of their abilities. Instead, this selection must involve a careful and thorough analysis of the details concerning the individual.

The absence of certain assessments could well lead to us regretting the consequences, such as in this case.