University of Havana, Young Communist League, University of Santiago, political information, moral standards
The government controls the educational system and provides education for essentially all Cuban children. School attendance is compulsory for children ages 6 through 16, and Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, claiming 100 percent adult literacy, compared to only 54 percent in 1952. Estimates are that virtually all eligible children attend the first six years of school.
Castro’s government attempted to narrow the gap between the educated and uneducated by allowing all children to attend school free of charge and by sending literacy brigades throughout the country during the early 1960s. These brigades, composed of teachers and trained students, taught reading and writing to Cubans in remote regions of the country that previously had no schools. As a result of their work, Cuba’s literacy rate increased dramatically.
Adults may attend basic education courses. High-level courses are offered to college graduates in specialty majors such as business, medicine, nursing, and technical engineering. Membership in the Young Communist League or the Cuban Communist Party is an important determinant of student enrollment in one of the three universities and the dozens of polytechnic schools. The University of Havana is the preeminent university, but the University of Santa Clara and the University of Santiago de Cuba are also highly regarded.
The curriculum in primary and secondary schools is based upon Marxist-Leninist principles that honor collective work and that identify capitalism as an opposing world organization. Instruction on public health, elementary education, cooking, moral standards, and revolutionary loyalty are transmitted through television and radio. These programs are strictly controlled by the Cuban Communist Party and are used to communicate national, international, and political information.
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