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Only Education Can Save Our Species by Fidel Castro
CUBA EDUCATION FACTS 2007
Cuban youth are eligible to vote in local and national elections at 16 years old. No doubt a major reason for the nation's emphasis on educational excellence!

English is the most popular language for Cuban students to pursue after Spanish.

Universal education in Cuba covers the cost of uniforms, books, tuition, dorm fees, and an expense stipend at the university level, among other items and services.

Cuba's literacy rate exceeds that of Canada and the United States.

The average Cuban teacher-to-student classroom ratio at the PRIMARY school level is 1 to 20.

The average Cuban teacher-to-student classroom ratio at the MIDDLE school level is 1 to 15.

The Cuban retention and graduation rate average for high school students is 97.5%. (Tragically the high school graduation rate in the 50 biggest US cities is 52%. In Detroit it is 25%. Source: CNN 03 April 2008.)

The average Cuban staff-to-student ratio for kids with severe physical and mental disabilities is 1 to 1.

If a remote village only has one or two students, it is provided with a school and qualified teacher.

This remote village school in Cuba is solar powered. It serves two students and had one teacher.

This mountain top Cuban school serves thirteen students from grade one through grade eight. It is staffed with two teachers.

This tiny Cuban school has one student. It is solar powered and has one very dedicated teacher.

Several times a year Cuba Explorer Tours offers teacher familiarization trips to the island. These programs include a thorough review of the Cuban education system from day care through university. It is an opportunity for North American educators to meet, discuss, interact, and exchange ideas with their Cuban counterparts.

29 October 2004, Havana

Greetings from Cuban President Fidel Castro to educators participating in Hanava's 12th World Congress on Comparative Education, in the Year of the 45th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution

Distinguished Guests:

A few days ago, coinciding with Cuban Culture Day, we witnessed the graduation after four years of study of the first contingent of arts instructors, a promising youthful force trained in the mission of expanding the arts throughout the nation by teaching people to appreciate the cultural wealth of the country and of humanity and to contribute to forging a general integral culture in our citizens.

"I harbor the most absolute conviction that only education can save our species. Only education has received the exceptional privilege of a fabulous intelligence with the capacity of creating unimaginable values and transmitting and acting in accordance with them, without which human beings would be nothing more than the blind product of the laws of nature, full of instincts and impulses, which could never merit the qualification of people."

The elementary, secondary and special schools in all the country's municipalities are to be the fundamental scenario for the labor of these bearers of culture and humanism who, with all the symbolism that entails, have been constituted into the 3,237-strong José Martí Brigade, set to increase in a few years to the total of 30,000 new and well-trained arts instructors.

Their current presence in schools and, in the not-so-distant future, in communities and workplaces, is enriching the system of attention to children, adolescents and young adults that has been drawn up in recent years within the Battle of Ideas which, for us, essentially translates into the patriotic strengthening of the people and concrete facts and realizations for the total transformation of our society.

These beautiful and necessary objectives are linked to the training in the last four years of a similar figure of new teachers and professors whose graduation has made it possible for Cuban elementary school classrooms to be reduced to no more than 20 children to one teacher and one multi-disciplinary teacher for every 15 students at junior high school level.

We have also succeeded in extending the double session of classes in all junior high schools and installing computer equipment, television and videos – as useful and effective teaching aids – in all the country's schools, from kindergarten through to University; including the smallest and remotest schools that are not equipped with electricity, where solar panels have been installed.

This essential stage, marked by the premise of creating a far more humane society, has been enriched by the training and dedication of 21,000 young social workers, a growing force that is increasing by no less than 7,000 per annum as an indispensable instrument for all the programs we are undertaking.

These simple facts that I have mentioned give an idea of the many ambitious plans absorbing the finest and most noble efforts of our society.

I do not wish to expand any further. However, I deeply regret not being able to transmit to you, dear gladiators of the most noble and humane creation of the world, my most intimate sentiments on education. And if I was urged to express in just a few words some of my ideas in this context after a long life of struggle and experience in the field and having seen the development of our world over nearly half a century, to reach the dramatic situation of the planet's 6.5 billion inhabitants, I harbor the most absolute conviction that only education can save our species. Only education has received the exceptional privilege of a fabulous intelligence with the capacity of creating unimaginable values and transmitting and acting in accordance with them, without which human beings would be nothing more than the blind product of the laws of nature, full of instincts and impulses, which could never merit the qualification of people. It is that intelligence and those values which convert people into human beings capable of attaining the survival of their own species.

Educating is to transform a little animal into a person. If we do not come to be human beings in the profoundest sense of the word, our species cannot survive. Your task, and I think of you as you and us, is devoted to attaining those objectives with all our forces. That proposition defines the meaning of our Battle of Ideas and explains our tremendous efforts to create a general integral culture in our people, as something that no human community can do without.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Signed with my right hand in plaster

[In reference to a 20 October 2004 accident where Fidel Castro tripped and fell following a speech, injuring his knee and arm.]

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