Posted by Rawlinsview July 6, 2013
The two articles below are a brief overview of measures being taken in Cuba to plan economic development in the interests of the working people and in Cuban society as a whole. It is worth noting that the Cuban Revolution as it enters its second half century is expanding the development of the cooperative form of productive economic unit. It is also worth noting the extraordinary emphasis placed upon education for the whole of Cuban Society.
The workers Cuba needs
Some 57% of students completing ninth grade go on to study technical careers or trades • Improving the quality of these courses continues to be prioritized
Grama International Yenia Silva Correa
July 4, 2013
CUBA’S educational system has, over the last few years, undergone a series of changes designed to bring teaching and learning more in consonance with the Party and Revolution’s Economic and Social Policy Guidelines approved in 2011.
More than 75,000 Cuban students will enter technical-professional secondary
schools next fall
In this context, the quality and rigor of instruction in schools, as well as in the teacher preparation process, constitute elements essential to the functioning of the educational system at all levels, although each level has its own particular issues.
On the basis of these modifications, work is advancing with particular emphasis on preparation for the workforce and career planning, beginning in elementary school, in an effort to met the country’s needs for skilled workers and professionals, with priority given to educational, technical and agricultural careers.
There are 700,000 elementary students in Cuba, in 6,955 schools across the country. School attendance at this level is not a problem and goals are clearly defined.
Spanish Language, Mathematics and Cuban History continue to be the subjects prioritized, since, as has been recognized by primary education authorities, it is in these areas where shortcomings exist.
Reviewing study plans and ensuring that teachers are well prepared are the immediate challenges being faced at this level to guarantee a comprehensive primary education for all.
SECONDARY LEVEL EQUALLY IMPORTANT
During the 2012-2013 academic year, 379 science laboratories were distributed to middle schools and another 400 will be delivered shortly. Plans have been made to ensure that, within two to three years, every school at this level, serving students in Grades 7-9, will have a Science laboratory.
An issue of critical importance is preparing students to continue their studies. Of the 133,000 who complete 9th Grade, 43% will continue on to pre-university and 57% to technical-professional secondary schools (ETP).
These percentages reflect a national strategy directed toward preparing the workforce needed to support economic development, recognizing the importance of trained technicians and skilled workers.
Havana and Matanzas do not yet have the teaching staff required to meet their needs, although classrooms have been covered thanks to retired teachers and young educators from other provinces.
With a view toward improving instruction, middle school teachers are now being trained with a focus on only two related subject areas. The first cohort of teachers following this plan will complete their studies during the 2013-2014 academic year.
Efforts in secondary education continue to prioritize teacher preparation, family and community involvement, as well as vocational counseling.
TECHNICIANS, WORKERS & SOCIAL RECOGNITION
Technical-professional schools are charged with preparing the skilled workforce the country needs. At the close of the academic year 2012-2013, 176,676 students were enrolled in 48 technical and 25 trade programs.
These schools continue to implement successful practices, such as the use of 4,500 classrooms installed directly within workplaces and the temporary placement of students as interns. Additionally this past year, classes leading to certification in eight skilled trades were offered in penitentiary centers. The number of programs offered in these institutions will increase to 16 next year.
Vocational schools, also included in the technical-professional (ETP) secondary system, concentrate on preparing students to assume the trades most needed in a given province.
The objectives of technical-professional education implicitly include the goal of addressing a subjective issue within society and among families; that is increasing the recognition of work done by technicians and skilled workers.
Recognizing the value and importance of these workers is essential, above all at a time when the country is attempting to reduce the number of non-productive administrative workers and promote work in critical sectors such as agriculture, construction and transportation.
The coming academic year will see the opening of 20 new programs to prepare skilled workers and one new technical course. Thus the 75,000 students who are expected to begin studies at this level will have more options, especially in construction, services, agriculture, mechanics and transportation.
Curricular adjustments have also been made in Spanish literature, Mathematics and History, to offer ETP students better instruction in these subject areas and facilitate their admission to universities, if they so desire.
New cooperatives in various economic sectors
Grama International Yaima Puig Meneses & Leticia Martínez Hernández
July 4, 2013
BEGINNING July 1, 124 cooperatives began functioning on an experimental basis in various sectors of the Cuban economy, such as construction, transportation, waste collection and agricultural markets, in accordance with decisions made to implement the 6th Party Congress Guidelines. This development constitutes another step forward in the updating of Cuba’s economic model.
The new cooperatives include 12 working
in the construction sector.
speaking with Granma, Grisel Tristá Arbesú – head of the Implementation and Development Permanent Commission’s Enterprise Improvement Group -explained, “With this measure we are opting to cooperatively manage activities which had not been efficiently run as state enterprises. This additionally permits the state to move forward, letting go of issues which are not of transcendental importance to the development of the economy.”
In this first group of cooperatives, 112 have emerged from the state sector and 12 from the private, that is, among self-employed workers. Of the total, 99 are agricultural produce markets in Havana, Artemisa and Mayabeque; two will work in recycling and recovery of raw materials – one in Artemisa and the other in Mayabeque; and 12 will function in construction related activities, Arbesú said.
Six cooperatives are associated with transportation support services, including
body work, painting, upholstery, tow truck and roadside help services, car washing, and tire repair.
Additionally created were five passenger transportation cooperatives, the two in Havana include a route taxi service and school transport, while two in the provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque will provide transportation in specially converted trucks.
Tristá Arbesú emphasized that although regulations stipulate that prices will be determined in accordance with supply and demand, exceptions are made in relation to some activities and products, such as is the case in market sales of potatoes, rice and chick peas, as well as prices charged for passenger transportation services.
“Nothing justifies, for example, that having taxis running routes as part of a cooperative – which was previously done by a state enterprise – should imply a price increase. It is a fundamental principle that the rates will remain as currently established,” she explained.
As for the impact of this new type of management on the Cuban economy,
Rubén Toledo Díaz, also a group leader within the Permanent Commission, indicated that he believes that measures to support the development of cooperatives will make a significant contribution to the updating of Cuba’s economic model.
“They [cooperatives] are being called upon to take an important place in the country’s economy, although the principal role will continue to be played by state enterprises,” he emphasized, and clarified, “These cooperatives are not the result of a privatization process. They will administer state property which definitively, belongs to the entire people.”