Exposing the Castro myth of Cuba’s ‘highly educated’ population

Miguel Sales in Diario de Cuba:

A highly educated population?


Since 1959 the Government of Cuba has allocated considerable resources to its national educational system. The literacy campaign of 1961, the appropriation of private schools, intervention at universities and the creation of new, specialized institutions were, according to the official propaganda, measures to transform the island into a “world power in education.” At the same time, the aim was to create a system of indoctrination that would shape the people’s thinking, right from early childhood, into Marxist-Leninist-Castroist ideology.

Ever since throughout the world the regime’s chorus of kowtowers has touted the spectacular development of education as one of the Cuban Revolution’s “achievements.” These triumphalist proclamations are based more on slogans and manipulated statistics disseminated by the Government in Havana than on objective and verifiable data provided by international organizations.

Without considering the anthropological damage they have inflicted on several generations of Cubans through the incessant indoctrination practiced over the years in classrooms, and the need to feign an enthusiastic adherence to “revolutionary” values in order to continue to study, it is possible to evaluate the results of the Castroist educational system based on objective and measurable criteria.

The first thing that jumps out is the poor quality of university education. Whatever the international classification system consulted (Shanghai, Oxford or CSIC), Cuba’s top institution, the University of Havana does not even stand among the top 1,000 in the world.  For example, in the most recent ranking by Spain’s Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), the University of Havana is ranked 20th in the Caribbean, behind institutions in Mexico, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, and 1,741st in the world. That is, the world features some 1,740 universities, some in very poor countries in Asia and Africa, topping Cuba’s best institution of higher learning.

It should be noted that these entities’ ranking systems are becoming more and more sophisticated each year, taking into account cultural differences, the economic context, and internal organization. The assessment, addressing visibility, impact and activities, is determined by a wide range of indicators of institutional and academic prestige, such as articles in specialized publications, research results, the publishing of high-level material, the use of new technologies, international recognition, etc. These scores, combined on a weighted basis, yield a numerical index that determines the institution’s rank in the international hierarchy. It would be absurd to think that these ranking agencies operate in a coordinated manner, beholden to the CIA, with the intention of discrediting the Cuban government. The Island’s universities simply do not measure up and meet the educational and research needs of the contemporary world.

This is the despite more than half a century of colossal investments, preferential attention lavished on the education sector, “pedagogical innovation” along the lines of Makarenko and Castro I, and systematic efforts to create the “new man,” an objective now hardly spoken about on the Island. It should not be forgotten that that the starting point for Cuba’s educational system in 1960, both public and private, was relatively advanced for a country of intermediate development and that, with an illiteracy rate approaching 20%, hardly scandalous for the time. In that year the global average was 40% (Mexico: 30%; Puerto Rico: 11%, Chile: 10%, Argentina: 9%). Although one will be able to find Castroist websites stating that during the Republic “each year the army of illiterate adults increased,” the fact is that since 1902 the number of Cubans who could read and write increased from 30% to 80% of the population.

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3 thoughts on “Exposing the Castro myth of Cuba’s ‘highly educated’ population”

  1. This is an excellent piece highly worth reading, but here’s the short version: It’s all a fraud and always was, and not just the Castro “education” racket. The whole system is a failure, except in terms of the only thing it really cares about: staying in power. And by the way, people who pride themselves on being the “thinking class” and have ready access to all sorts of resources cannot possibly fail to see that unless they’re either not what they think they are or simply full of shit.

  2. It must gratify Nosferatu to lord it over the University of Havana (that statue next to him is known as Alma Mater and stands in front of the main approach to he university). While he attended it as a student, he tried hard enough to become a “student leader” and got nowhere. Let’s just say his much-vaunted “charisma” has been considerably overrated, if not fabricated. Remember, people acting like they adore you out of herd instinct, opportunism and/or fear is not the same as people actually adoring you.

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