A new chapter in the history of education in the Island begun on December 22, 1961, whit the proclamation of an Illiteracy Free Territory. Seven Hundred and Seven Thousand persons became literate and illiteracy rate was reduced to 3,9% of the total Cuban population, placing Cuba among the nations with the lowest illiteracy rate in the world..
Fidel’s words summarize the effort: There is no moment more solemn and moving, no instant of more legitímate pride and glory than this one, when four and a half centuries of ignorance have been knocked down. We have won a great battle and we must call it like that – a battle- because victory over illiteracy in our country was possible through a great battle, with all the rules of a great battle.
With a total population of 11,241,291 inhabitants, only 0,2% of the Cuban population remains illiterate, almost only elder people who could not enjoy the educational system the country has today.
As recognized by prestigious institutions, Cuba holds today the first place in mathematics and language skills of primary school students. Hundred percent of children are enrolled at the proper educational age, there is no educational backwardness and they all reach the 6th grade. Ninety-nine percent reach the 9th grade, enabling them to continue higher education studies. Cuban children enjoy today the best teacher per student rate in primary schools: one teacher for every 20 students or two if they exceed that figure
The 2008/2009 academic year began with an enrollment of 3 083,7 thousand students in educational centers throughout the country, from day-care centers up to higher education, representing a decrease of 25.8 thousand students compared to the previous academic year.
Enrollment on Day-Care Centers is 129.8 thousand students. The “Educate your Child” program was established in 1992, as an alternative to face the increasing needs in early childhood education, an out-of-school modality based on the involvement of family and local community, with more than 483.7 thousand children participating in this program..
Enrollment on early childhood education and primary education continues to decrease, compared to the previous academic year, in 3 thousand and 1.7 thousand, respectively. Enrollment has been decreasing since the 1996/1997 academic year, in line with the demographic behavior of the Cuban population.
Enrollment in secondary education decreased in almost 51.6 thousand students.
Enrollment in preuniversity education is over two hundred five thousand students,
There are also 13,000 studying to become art instructors and once graduated,, they will be sent to educational centers and to communities, to raise art appreciation and practice among the youth.
Social workers schools, as part of the Revolution’s Programs, have more than one thousand students enrolled. The purpose of these schools is to train students to work directly with communities, providing personalized social assistance and becoming a link between the State and the family. Graduate students from these schools have a secure job as social workers and can apply for any university degree in Humanities.
Universalization and improvement of adult education have brought about a massive increase in the educational level of the population while solving society’s need in terms of labor force. Adult Education also allows young people graduated from regular teaching or dropouts to obtain a Bachelor Degree.
Women account for 50,5 percent of the total adult education enrollment, mostly in Comprehensive Advanced Courses for the Youth and Language Courses, where they represent 57.7% and 59.8% of the total enrollment, respectively.
One of the strategic work lines of the National Education system has been the priority given to Special Education that guarantees training of the disabled, allowing them to fit in society. Special Education, with more than 42 thousand students, has 58.8 percent as semi-boarding and 29.5 percent under scholarship.
Enrollment in higher education in the 2008/2009 academic course is over 710,9 thousand students with a substantial decrease of 33 thousand students compared to previous academic years, due to “universalization” extended to all municipalities in the country.
The Ministry of Higher Education has the highest enrollment, accounting for 57.5 percent of total higher education enrollment, followed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, accounting for 26.5 and 16 percent, respectively. Out of the 98 degree courses studied in the country, 47 are taught in university venues.
Distance learning is also included in higher education and has an enrollment of over 89 thousand students, plus 337 thousand from programs that allow students to continue a degree course. Del total de los matriculados en los cursos regulares, 143,7 mil alumnos se encuentran en cursos diurnos, lo que representa el 20,2 por ciento del total y de estos el 22,8 por ciento se encuentra bajo el régimen de internos.
In 1999, as part of the Comprehensive Health Program, the Latin American School of Medicine was established, the purpose of which is to train future doctors who will replace those currently providing services in more than 2o third world countries. In the 2008/2009 academic year, 2,747 students from 25 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and from the United States, are studying under this program.
Likewise, aimed at establishing a world reference university for the training of Physical Education and Sports professionals, with human solidarity as its essential value, and transform education in this field in other countries, the International Physical Culture and Sports School was created. A total of 990 students from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean enrolled in the 2008/2009 academic year.
As a result of the Battle of the Ideas program, on September 2002, with 2008 students enrolled, the Computer Sciences University opened its fist academic year. In the 2008/2009 academic year, 10, 818 students were enrolled. Since April 2007 it opened three regional faculties in the country located at Havana Province (West), Ciego de Avila Province (Center) and Granma Province (East). The University of Computer Sciences was created to socialize and multiply computer science higher studies in Cuba as never before.
Cuba will go down in history for what it has done and continues to do for the benefit of Mankind, in the fields of education, culture and health, during the most difficult times the human race has encountered.