Promising Progress: Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Cuba

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HAVANA – Cuba’s education systems is one of the best in the developing world. With the Cuban government focusing on improving the quality of education and making it accessible to everyone, they boast high gender parity. Here are the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Cuba.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Cuba

  1. There is no inequality shown in enrolment rates. In 2008, 98 percent of females and males enrolled in public school, which reflects equal access to and participation in education for both genders.
  1. Articles 42 and 43 of the Constitution of The Republic of Cuba ensure that primary, secondary and higher education are available to people regardless of gender. The Standing Committee for Children, Young People and Equal Rights for Women of the People’s National Assembly all serve to enforce these policies through monitoring and investigating reported incidents.
  1. Achieving gender equality in education is a goal of Cuba’s Education for All action plan, for which they ranked 16 out the 127 countries who also implemented the plan. Gender parity for preschool and primary education is 1 and for secondary education is 0.99, displaying the high level of gender equality in education.
  1. The Programme on Sexuality Education from a Gender and Sexual Rights Perspective was adopted in 2011, with the goal of improving the quality of education in mind. Among other topics, it covers sexual and reproductive health in school curricula. An important topic that is taught early on is the concept of consent; students are taught that meaning and significance of consent, fighting the cultural norm of marital rape.
  1. The presence of women in education continues through higher education, where almost 63 percent of graduates are women. In 2010, 156 women were enrolled at a university for every 100 men. These figures demonstrate the strides of the aforementioned steps taken to ensure gender equality in Cuba’s school systems.
  1. Women tend to major in social sciences and medicine rather than engineering or technical sciences, despite their high rate of tertiary school attendance. In medicine, 81 percent of the students are female, but only 30-40 percent of engineering students are female.
  1. Literacy rates in Cuba increased drastically following the 1961 Literacy Campaign, which especially targeted the marginalized populations. With the help of volunteers, half of which were women, people of all ages were taught to read and write. The campaign successfully brought illiteracy rates down from 20.6 percent in 1961 to 3.1 percent a year later. Based on 2012 UNESCO data, the literacy rate for both women and men is more than 99 percent, one of the highest in the world.
  1. With access to higher education, women make up 66 percent of the workforce and 70 percent of professionals. They are able to dominate the fields of medicine, law, and teaching. Women make up 69 percent of healthcare workers, 80 percent of education workers, and 66 percent of lawyers and judges. Yet, this prevalence tends to decrease in higher ranks of those fields; for example, there are more male pre-university teachers than female while primary education teachers are predominantly women. In addition, their careers are far less esteemed than in the U.S. Being a lawyer takes less education, for instance, and teaching professions are not valued highly. Women are still a minority in the male-dominated sciences, technology and mathematics fields.
  1. Despite equal rights and responsibilities to both genders, gender roles persist. Women are able to work, but when they come home, the majority of the household responsibility still falls on them. Taking care of children, cooking, cleaning and other chores are often done by women rather than being spread equally between men and women. Patriarchal ideologies allow this to exist, making it harder to achieve true gender equality.
  1. Cuba spends around 13 percent of its GDP on education, allowing students to attend public institutions for free. Education is also mandatory for children between the ages of 6-16, who attend 6 years of primary education and 4 years of secondary education.

As these top 10 facts about girls’ education in Cuba show, there is high gender equality in Cuba’s education system. Cultural beliefs and traditions do prevent Cuba from attaining complete gender equality, but through various laws and policies, the Cuban government is working towards it.

– Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr

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