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Material Shortages in Schools Hinder the Development of Values

Material Shortages in Schools Hinder the Development of Values /
14ymedio, Orlando Palma
Posted on September 4, 2015

14ymedio, Orlando Palma, Havana, 1 September 2015 – Early Tuesday
morning the bell rang for the first morning of the school year in more
than 10,300 schools throughout the country. All eyes are now focused on
the availability of teachers at the front of the classroom, the material
conditions of the schools, and the epidemiological questions in those
provinces affected by dengue fever and cholera. However, the most
titanic task that faces the Ministry of Education is to meet the
commitment to develop values in children and young people.

Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, head of the branch, has made frequent calls
in recent weeks for vocational training of students, working with
families, and the transmission of ethical and moral values ​​within the
school. The greatest difficulty on the path to this achievement is the
limited training of many teachers and the lack of incentive provided
by teachers’ salaries, say parents and teachers.

“My daughter has a Spanish and literature teacher who has never read Don
Quixote,” says an astonished mother of a teenage daughter in the 9th
grade at a basic secondary school in Old Havana. The family has tried to
alleviate the poor training of the teacher by paying for hours of study
with a tutor. “He worked in a high school and gave excellent classes,
but can’t stand being in education any more,” the lady says about this
particular teacher.

To cover the shortage of teachers in the capital, they have mobilized
more than 3,000 teachers from other provinces. The measure doesn’t
please many, nor does it resolve the situation. “It seems incredible
that they have to bring people from other places, with what that costs,
instead of raising the salaries of those here,” complains Roberto, a
retired teacher who spent a good part of his working life in an
elementary school in Central Havana.

The salary of a secondary school teacher does not exceed 600 Cuban pesos
a month, less than 30 dollars. The union demands a salary increase,
especially after the increase in salaries in the in Ministry of Public
Health, but their demands are whispered and not published in the
official press.

“The doctors care for the bodies of people, we feed their souls, so they
should also increase our salaries,” explains Mario, a history teacher at
Santa Clara High School, who has more than once cherished the idea of
leaving the classroom. “I would leave my house to sell lollipops, which
would certainly earn me more and I would have more peace of mind.”

The material situation of the schools of education also discourages
professionals in the sector. “In these times with the internet and
technology we should have more support from these novelties in our
classes,” says Mario. “Can you imagine how I could teach my students
about the scenes of historic battles through Google Earth,” he adds.

In schools across the whole the country, there is a total of 61,908
computers. There is no need to do complicated calculations to know that
this means six computers for each campus throughout the Island. However,
64% of these are more than 12 years old, and so barely function with the
most modern programs. And in most cases they only have access to a local

Teachers also complain about the accumulation of extra-curricular tasks
that have been added to their teaching activities. “Many meetings, too
many lists and tables to prepare and reports to write. We have almost no
time to prepare for classes,” says a teacher at José Miguel Pérez High
School in the Plaza municipality.

The picture is not very different in higher education. This September
1st the university classrooms hosted more than 170,000 students
throughout the country, 33,000 of them new entrants. Many teaching
assistants or recent graduates fill in for the absence of professionals
with more teaching experience.

Despite an investment of around 20 million pesos for university campus
repairs, the situation of the furniture and the infrastructure still
presents many shortcomings. In the worst situations there are student
dorms with serious problems with the plumbing, windows and woodwork.

“Developing values is very difficult, because we have other
emergencies,” concludes a teaching assistant at José Luis Arruñada
elementary school. Behind her, a line of children in recently-ironed
uniforms looks forward to entering the classroom. September has returned.

Source: Material Shortages in Schools Hinder the Development of Values /
14ymedio, Orlando Palma | Translating Cuba –

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