HAVANA — Cuba has had a strong education system since the early 1900s. However, around that time, only half the children had access to education. This resulted in rural Cuba having a low literacy rate compared to urban areas. After the 1959 revolution, education in Cuba was nationalized. Prior to this, it was noted that 20 percent of Cubans over the age of 15 were illiterate and 60 percent were semi-literate. This was due to the fact that many rural Cubans had only acquired a third-grade education or less. Fortunately, today, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the world at 99.9 percent.
After the Cuban Revolution, education became a top priority. A literacy campaign was put in place to abolish illiteracy in Cuba. Through this year-long campaign, schools were constructed, educators were trained and the poor were taught to read and write. About 707,000 Cubans learned how to read and write. This resulted in the literacy rate increasing to 96 percent. Before this success, the literacy rate was between 60 and 70 percent.
Education in Cuba is compulsory until grade nine of secondary school. It is free at all levels including university education. The education statistics are very impressive, with less than one percent of students dropping out of primary school and 98.2 percent continuing their education after grade six. Furthermore, 98 percent of children attend preschool. Even more impressive is the primary school gross enrollment being close to 100 percent.
The number of students in a classroom is 25. This makes it easy for the teacher to address each student individually with ample time. Teachers also take great care of students with special needs, with “13,600 teachers working in 425 special schools, all around the country.” Furthermore, students who are unable to attend school because of a sickness or disability have teachers go to them and teach them at home.
Schools are equipped with all the necessary equipment for a better learning experience like computers and internet. In remote areas, where there is no access to electricity, schools are provided with solar panel systems to ensure that the electronics are functioning. Therefore, there are few disparities between schools in different areas.
Why is the literacy rate in Cuba so high? It is because the country put education first. Cuba made sure every child gets an education without thinking of social class. Everyone is treated equally. Furthermore, education in Cuba is free and teachers make sure every student is moving in the right direction. No students get left behind.
– Solansh Moya