Monday, October 30, 2006

Free education a signal achievement of the Revolution

Free education; a signal achievement of the Revolution

Karell Infante Mantilla, Jóvenes sin Censura

HOLGUIN, Cuba - October ( - On September 4, the first
day of the school year, a casual observer could easily tell to what
grade the incoming students were going. Not by their apparent ages, but
by the state of their uniforms. Here's the code:

New uniform: pre-school.

Colors faded: first grade.

Outgrown, threadbare, of no recognizable color: second grade.

By the third grade either the parents got smart and bought a uniform on
the black market or the child is practically naked.

The explanation is simple. The government authorizes the sale of one
uniform when the child begins schooling, and more thereafter, but not
every year, under the rationing plan.

So one uniform per student. Add to that: the weather in Cuba is hot
year-round. Children play, run, and sweat. And a home with a washer and
dryer would be a very rare home indeed.

You add it up.

Yet at the beginning of the school year, students and parents are told,
in no uncertain terms, how grateful they should be to the Revolution for
the education they are about to receive.

At the beginning of this school year, in the presence of each
municipality's First Secretary of the Communist Party, children were
told the exact cost of school materials and supplies, ranging from a
pencil to the TV set in the classroom. For those who can already read,
the same information is posted in a mural somewhere in the school grounds.

Interestingly enough, the costs are given in convertible currency, not
in Cuban pesos.

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