Dogma and Textbooks
Cuba’s “free” education is glorified political indoctrination
Just as with “free” healthcare, the “free” education canard has long been a major part of the pro-Castro rhetoric peddled by useful idiots, fellow travelers and, obviously, official Castro regime operatives. It should go without saying that absolutely NOTHING can be free if you have to give up your basic human rights to get it, but alas, MANY people are amazingly skilled at ignoring an elephant in their living room.
Dogma and Textbooks
Going over textbooks used in Cuba’s education system during the last half century is like a trip through dogmatism and manipulation, used to impose a failed model.
The Cuban educational system, imposed by the state without regard for the wishes or preferences of the citizenry, is paternalistic and manipulative in order to secure submission through gratitude. It begins in nursery school continuing through university and, with a highly political and ideological bias, tries to inculcate in students the so-called “national and socialist values,” in opposition to the rejected “foreign and capitalist values.” A key element in achieving that objective is school textbooks. In them, in addition to subject-specific content, it is mandatory to include the political and ideological tenets of the [socialist] model in order for the books to be approved, published and used. This is most evident or heavy-handed in reading and history textbooks, but also found in a less direct way in other subject areas, including mathematics.
In the early years of schooling, the process is carried out in a subtle and seemingly innocuous manner, emphasizing “approved” historical events and figures through stories and myths suitable for childish minds, focusing attention on the leading figures of the [anti-Batista] struggle, presenting them as a continuation of the struggle for independence [from Spain], the great heroes who finally prevailed. This is associated with the “overflowing joy and happiness” established in our countryside and cities by the new regime, illustrated with images of smiling children and adults, holding up Cuban flags, as a graphic complement to the written text.
In subsequent years of primary schooling, the political and ideological content increases, with the deliberate manipulation of historical events and figures, and even of discoveries and inventions in the fields of science and technology, emphasizing and praising those made by people and countries with ideological and political affinity with the regime, to the detriment of those with no such affinity.
At this time begins the introduction, although still in “light” mode, of the figures of Marx, Engels and Lenin, which are presented as connected to Baliño, Mella, Villena and other Cuban socialists, and socialism is discussed attempting to place our main historical figure, José Martí, as being close to that philosophical current, by using some of his expressions and general thoughts taken out of context and overlooking those which directly reject socialism.
[At the same time], there is also the proliferation of praise for socialist countries and their achievements, principally the extinct Soviet Union, and they are classified as “brother countries.” The theme of Latin America is present in the figures of its leading historical patriarchs, headed by Bolívar, and there is extensive promotion of anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism.
In secondary schooling, textbooks take on a more hard-line political emphasis, taking for granted that the only valid philosophy and economic model are those of Marxist-Leninist origin, and that the best system is socialism. The texts become more complex and dogmatic, and preference is given to nationalistic interpretations of political, economic and social developments, based on the ideas of Fidel Castro, which are inserted into the different subject areas and amplified by the obligatory study of his speeches and interventions.
In pre-university schooling, which until relatively recently was confined to centers in isolated rural settings (ostensibly to combine study with working in the fields, a concept supposedly drawn from Martí), the textbooks used are expressly designed to develop the so-called “new man” [hombre nuevo], and are thus rife with absurd dogmatic concepts, upheld by the faculty but doubted by many students, due to contradictions between the theory and the difficult reality in which they live, [deliberately] separated from their families, friends, neighbors, cultural entities, etc. and obligated to stay in an alien environment, away from towns and cities the majority of the time, under almost military conditions.
In the university years, known to be a stage where students are difficult to control and tend to question everything, the system tries to impose dogmatic thinking based on the concept that “the university is for revolutionaries,” fostering a climate of political and ideological intolerance. The textbooks fully reflect that concept, but now use supposedly modern ideas or terms, in keeping with the current climate and the changes that have occurred economically, politically and socially. For this, the texts that are used share or come close to the ideology of the [official socialist] model, while texts that criticize or reject said model are excluded.
Lately, due to changes that have occurred throughout the world and even in Cuban society, many textbooks have been revised and updated, eliminating obsolete references and examples, and attempting to re-package Marxism-Leninism more attractively, calling it “Martian” [in reference to José Martí] and, more recently, even “Bolivarian” [in reference to Bolívar and the Venezuela of Chávez]. However, in essence, [the dogma] remains the same.