HAVANA TIMES — Cuban Vice-President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura urged university students to master new technologies and the English language in order to become well-rounded professionals after graduation.
“Mastering the language is essential, because we’ll have more and more contact with the outside every day. We also need to be familiar with new technologies, everything. We have to speak English well. If you can speak two or three languages, so much the better, but English is essential,” Machado Ventura declared during the closing session of the National Council of the University Student Federation (FEU) last Saturday, held at the Cojimar Convention Center in Havana.
The issue of accumulating professional skills following graduation from Cuban universities was the focus of the final sessions of the FEU congress, which assessed the performance and results of the 2014-2015 academic year, the island’s official media reported.
Urgently Needed Skills
Machado Ventura spoke of the need to acquire skills inside and outside the classroom and to take advantage of new technologies, emphasizing the urgent need to improve English and Spanish language skills.
Learning English has awakened much interest among Cubans, particularly the young, since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana was announced on December 17 last year.
Machado Ventura, 84, considered one of the “hard-liners” of Cuba’s leadership, has warned of the dangers of the rapprochement with the United States and of the need to maintain a critical perspective on the capitalist system. During a recent interview with Juventud Rebelde, he called on young Cubans not to allow themselves to be dazzled by consumerism and the “pretty things” promised by the new era of relations between Washington and Havana.
His remarks to the FEU, however, appeared more moderate.
Ideological Reinforcement Process
“We shouldn’t leave anything we can do today for tomorrow. We are very much aware of the kind of future we need to continue building. We not only need to build, we need to improve the situation our educational system is in right now,” the second secretary of the Communist Party (PCC) remarked.
During the meeting, the FEU was called on to focus on “political and ideological education” by Olga Lidia Tapia Iglesias, member of the PCC’s Central Committee Secretariat.
During the closing session of the congress, Minister for Higher Education Rodolfo Alarcon Ortiz announced the beginning of a process aimed at reinforcing political and ideological education at university centers, with special emphasis on history and Marxism-Leninism.
Alarcon Ortiz said that work must continue to be devoted to produce “the kinds of graduates the country needs, graduates with a civic, patriotic and ethical formation and who are committed to the revolution.”
The FEU will start the coming school year with a celebration loaded with clear political symbolism: the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s enrolment in Law at the University of Havana, on September 4, 1945.