Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher
Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 20 August 2016 – The 2016-2017 school
year starts in just two weeks and the authorities of the Ministry of
Education are calling on people to take good care of school supplies
given “the economic limitations of the country.” Department head Ena
Elsa Velaquez Cobiella, also acknowledged the lack of teachers in
several territories, a problem that last year amounted to a deficit of
10,300 teachers island-wide.
For the upcoming school year, among the provinces with the most
significant lack of teachers are Ciego de Avila, where an exodus to
other lines of work has caused a shortage of 663 education
professionals. These positions will be covered, according to Barbara
Rodriguez Milian, Provincial Director of Education, with “personnel
contracted for on a hourly basis, a university contingent, and
methodologists and the boards of directors of the schools,” as the
official told the local press.
In Villa Clara, meanwhile, Director of Education Esperanza González
Barceló recently acknowledged that there is “a deficit of over 1,000
teachers” in that territory. The official said that it was necessary to
“seek alternatives” to cover the deficit, and said she will appeal to
“professionals and college students, whether or not that have teaching
degrees,” so work under contract.
The limited number of staff is a problem compounded by the physical
state of the schools because, according to Gonzalez Barcelo, more than
60% of the schools in the province are in critical condition.
Santiago de Cuba province is one of the few that is in good shape, and
according to local media has “filled all the positions” and created “a
reserve of 620 teachers” for primary education. The department head said
that the territory has “met the needs for pencils, notebooks and
crayons” despite “the economic limitations of the country.
Education authorities have tried to play down serious deficit of
teachers in the media as September approaches, and during an appearance
in Camagüey, Velázquez Cobiella said that “more than 5,000 new teachers”
just graduated from the School of Education and will take their places
in front of classrooms nationwide in a few days, but that number fails
to cover the accumulated shortages.
In a measure to accelerate the training of teachers, for the next school
year, a teaching degree program will last only four years, not five as
it had been up until the last school year.
New scenarios, such as the restoration of relations between Cuba and the
United States have introduced some issues in the training of teachers, a
detail that was not absent from the preparatory workshops for the new
school year. Now teachers should emphasize during their classes on
topics related “to the teaching of history, the prospects of relations
between Cuba and the United States, the ideological and political
subversion,” among others.
Since the fall of the socialist camp in Eastern Europe Cuban education
has been undergoing an accelerated process deterioration, affecting
materials and educators. The complaints of the population over the poor
quality of teacher preparation, the reduction in the number of classes
and the excesses of ideology when teaching certain subjects, have grown
in proportion to the collapse of the sector.
The exodus of teachers into other employment sectors and emigration led
the authorities to implement a teacher training program at the beginning
of this century called “emerging teachers” – that is starting students
not yet out of high school in teacher training programs and placing them
in front of classrooms with as little as two years of preparation – as
well as the introduction of classes taught by TV and videotape. These
measures failed and are currently being reversed.
Source: Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And
Teacher Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba –