Elementary enrollment declines • Special attention to the development of values and combating fraud
Yenia Silva Correa
EDUCATION in the broadest sense of the word and conveying knowledge are two of the basics the Ministry of Education is emphasizing to improve learning in the 2013-2014 academic year, which began September 2, with 1,840,000 students attending 10,402 schools.
Elementary education registered a slight drop in enrollment this year, with 20,000 fewer students, reflecting the country’s declining birth rate.
Teacher coverage stands at 95.1%, with remaining positions filled by contracted personnel, retired teachers and municipal administrators. Additionally, numerous skilled workers and professionals are supporting technical high school education in on-site workplace classrooms.
Some 3,000 teachers from other provinces are working in Havana, a strategy which is also being implemented in Matanzas, Artemisa and Camagüey, where shortfalls exist.
The Minister, speaking on national television, discussed the issue of academic fraud and the variety of ways it has been manifested, recognizing that the phenomenon has appeared in some schools with the participation of some educators.
Velásquez Cobiella called for combativity on the part of workers in the field to take on corruption and recover the moral authority of schools where it has been lost.
"A few," she emphasized, "cannot damage the prestige of Cuban education."
Transformations begun over the last few years will continue being implemented during the 2013-2014 academic year, with changes in the instruction of Mathematics being put into practice for 6th Grade students. Also planned is the initiation of teacher training for elementary level English teachers.
Likewise, middle school programs in vocational training and computer science will be updated to reflect new technology.
Career counseling and preparation, directed toward meeting the needs of each province and sectors of key importance to the country’s development, will continue to be prioritized, beginning as early as elementary school and continuing through the middle and high school levels, looking to prepare students for technical careers and trades, as well as assuring that students going on to university have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.
The Minister reiterated that necessary to the accomplishment of these objectives are individual effort on the part of students, family and community support, as well as, above all, well prepared teachers who love their work and are committed to fulfilling their responsibility to society.