Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0350 GMT 10 Dec 67

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro at ceremony in Havana's
Chaplin Theater marking the end of course for the Ana Betancourt Peasant
Girls School and a joint graduation of the Makarenko and Enrique Varona
pedagogic institutes and the Maj Miguel Fajardo Advanced Physical Education

[Text] Comrade teachers, comrade graduates, comrade students, this year the
family of graduates has grown. In earlier, years we met regularly to hold
the end of course ceremonies of the first school, but since everything
grows and becomes more developed in the revolution, on this occasion not
only are the girls of the Ana Betancourt school gathered here, but also the
boys and girls of the Makarenko institute, the graduates of the Enrique
Jose Varona educational institute, and the graduates of the Manuel Fajardo
physical education school. Also meeting here are the graduates of a very
new school, the Primero de Mayo school, which began scarcely a year ago. It
already has not only 9,000 students, as the comrade who just spoke said,
but a magnificent choir and brilliant performers. [applause]

We think that in the future these graduations will become a ceremony
representing those taking place every year in our country. We are invited
on numerous occasions to attend graduations, but if we answered all these
invitations we would need the 365 days of the year, and the 366th day in
leap years, because there are so many schools and so many graduations. All
of them are justified in celebrating their graduations as the culmination
of an effort over many years. In the future it will not be a graduation at
El Turquino one day, another in the second front, and another some place
else, but rather we will have a representative graduation ceremony for all.

Today, for example, are graduated here, beginning with the comrades of the
Ana Betancourt peasant school, 1,496 comrades from the sixth grade
[applause, cheers], 105 girls from basic secondary school--and this is the
first graduation of this type, as was already said here [applause]--1,046
students from the Makarenko Pedagogic Institute [applause], 946 from the
Enrique Jose Varona Pedagogic Institute, and 272 students from the Maj
Manuel Fajardo Advanced Physical Education School. [applause]

If we analyze a few figures, you will understand better why I said that the
number of graduates every year will be greater and greater, just as there
will be more and more students. At this time, for example, the enrollment
of students from primary grades to the university is: primary schools,
1,382,000; basic secondary schools, 147,000; student technical schools and
institutes, 25,000; worker technical institutes, 50,000. To these figures
must be added: teacher students at various levels, 20,000; students
studying to be basic secondary school teachers, 2,626; preuniversity
teachers, 2,004; and in the Fajardo school, 2,462. This makes a total of
283,000 students in the middle-level schools. To these must be added some
40,000 university students, 12,000 students in the worker school, and
410,000 in worker-peasant education. This makes a total of 2,127,000

Of these students in the various types of schools, there are 254,000
studying under scholarships and 128,000 semiboarding students. Together
with those in the children's nurseries, which number 23,000, the
semiboarding students total 151,800. [figures as heard] In our country
there are 406,000 scholarship students and semiboarding students, students
who receive scholarships, a large part of all their needs, and their meals
at school. These figures grow year by year because of the number of
graduates at various levels.

Here is the distribution of students by grades: in the first grade we had
341,000 in the 1966-67 school year; in the second grade, 254,000; in the
third, 217,000; in the fourth, 205,000; in the fifth, 155,000; and in the
sixth grade, 99,000. Of the sixth-grade students, 66,000 were graduated. In
the first year of secondary school 60,500 graduated, in the second year
50,200, in the third year 36,000, and in the fourth, 15,700.

In the first year of preuniversity education 16,500 graduated, 9,000 in the
second, 8,000 in the third, and 4,400 in the fourth. The number of students
who pass from one grade to the next year by year. The number of sixth-grade
graduates is very high, a figure exceeding that of all those who ever
graduated in Cuba. In the coming years they will not number 66,000, but
80,000, 100,000, and when all of those who are in the first grade, 341,000
of them, graduate from the sixth grade--naturally not all will graduate,
although it is our duty to adopt all the necessary measures to see that
they all study and pass not only primary school but also secondary and
preuniversity schools--the number of sixth-grade graduates will be possibly
150,000 to 200,000 in coming years.

These are schools distributed throughout the country and many of these
students aspire to study in other schools. That is why the number of
scholarship students throughout the country must necessarily grow. All this
is accompanied by requirements of all types. To have an idea of these needs
it is enough to analyze the problem of books. In our country, in the past,
we never had a million books published at one time. Since the creation of
the Book Institute, however, taking 1967 production up to 31 December, we
will have printed texthooks for all levels of education--281 different
titles totaling 5,216,000 copies. Other books printed--220 titles--total
2,983,000 copies. Book production this year will exceed 8 million copies.

The needs for next year--needs, not possibilities--amount to 16 million
books. Thanks to the enormous efforts made by the comrades of the Book
Institute they may possibly reach a total of 10 million, which, of course,
unfortunately cannot supply all the needs. It is estimated that by 1969
those needs will increase to 20 million books, and by 1972 to about 30
million. This year alone 400,000 first-grade books were printed.

Education is spoken about, but this enormous education effort requires
great expenditures also. Our revolution has in effect made its greatest and
most important investment in education. When we say that there are some
250,000 scholarship students and 150,000 semiboarding students, we must
calculate what this means in installations, constructions of all types.
When we say that there are over 2.1 million persons studying, we must look
at the effort that this has required in the training of teachers, the
adaptation of installations, and books. Books are made of paper and they
are made in printing plants.

Since needs naturally grow in all areas, our economy faces the immense task
of satisfying those needs. That is why when we speak of work, work means
precisely the possibility of carrying out all this.

In the sector of teaching itself, the total number of persons in our
country engaged in teaching is 52,834; 43,000 primary teachers, 3,332
secondary teachers, and 1,502 preuniversity teachers. These are persons
engaged directly in teaching. With them are many people engaged in related
work, ranging from the production of books to the construction of education
installations, the production of materials needed for teaching, and the
care for scholarship students and all the needs of education. At the
present time, the number of those studying to be preuniversity teachers
is--that is, we hope to graduate them from Minas del Frio--8,000. There is
no assurance that this number of new enrollments will be reached. In Topes
de Collantes there will be 4,872. This means that there are many in the
first year in Topes de Collantes and 3,110 in the second year.

In the pedagogic institute in the first year--that is, the fourth year of
all their studies--there are 2,695. In the last year there are 1,753. This
makes a total of 19,420. We also have--they are going to be teachers,
too--the students of the physical education institute, who number 2,452,
and those of the Enrique Jose Varona Pedagogic Institute, who number 4,752.
This is nearly 30,000 young people studying to be teachers or professors.
This means an immense force, a gigantic educational force.

They must march alongside the other gigantic forces emerging from our youth
in all fields of culture an science. The fact that we already have some
40,000 university students is very important. It is enough to say, for
example, that in the schools of medicine and dentistry in the Havana and
Santiago universities 1,700 students requested admittance. The number of
doctors in our country is now 7,000 and the 7,000 are incomparably better
distributed than in the past. Before the revolution there were 6,000, all
poorly distributed.

We have all this in spite of the tenacious campaign which the enemy carried
out to deprive our country of doctors. They offered them villas and castles
and they caused an exodus of doctors. This is typical of imperialism's
attempts to deprive a country of doctors and technicians! As a result, we
already have 7,000 doctors of much better character, of much more
revolutionary character, and much better training. In addition, we have
1,700 new enrollments. Thus, we are progressing in all fields. According to
estimates, 2,809 engineers will be graduated by 1970. This is more than all
those who were graduated in the 50 previous years.

These are the new forces that have emerged from the bosom of the
revolution, a product of the efforts put forth during these years. They are
tremendous forces, enthusiastic, new, better prepared technically,
incomparably better prepared politically and revolutionarily.

Naturally, that progress must be improved on while we advance, since year
by year we must advance in depth as well as in extent. Year by year we must
advance in the quality of education. Today, for example, we have seen truly
interesting things, the application of modern techniques in education.

If we use all the qualified personnel we have available, and use these
techniques, like movies, television, and radio, we can accomplish
surprising mass results. Here, for example, the use of the technique of
recorders has been demonstrated in organizing the Primero de Mayo
children's choir.

Comrade Elena also explained and demonstrated some of the results being
obtained from the experiments being conducted in teaching the principles of
algebra and mathematics beginning with the first grade--at least, in
primary classes; I do not know whether it is in the first grade that they
began--but in any case, a test with primary school children, and the
percentage of children who answered without a single mistake was very high.
About 86 percent, unless I am mistaken, answered without any mistakes. That
is truly something new, for education now has lost the characteristic of
learning by rote.

And so perhaps in a few years all the methods with which we were taught in
school may be looked on as archaic, prehistoric educational methods. How
often we were made to learn something by rote. That is why many students
liked history, for instance, for they used their imagination to fill those
gaps. But how many concepts, how many ideas, we were forced to memorize!
And how much more we could have studied, and how much easier, with the help
of modern methods.

At the Education Ministry they have organized a marvelous industry of
audio-visual equipment for education. Many people are working at this who
used to be in the ministry's offices. They moved from unproductive
bureaucratic work to producing indispensable, essential, most useful
equipment for education. They themselves feel highly pleased at this. This
is a tremendous battle to eradicate every vestige of bureaucracy, that is,
parasitism, in the bosom of the revolution. Every individual in this
country should in one way or another devote himself to performing functions
or tasks that will be useful to the whole society.

In the ministry they have the double merit of having transformed
bureaucrats into producers of technical equipment for education, and this
equipment is extraordinarily useful. It facilitates understanding, and not
understanding based on memorizing, but a pondered, realistic, objective
understanding of the various phenomena. We are still far from making use of
this equipment, but the time must not be far off, and we must do everything
possible to shorten the time between today and the day when we make
available to our people's education the most modern (?mass) education
equipment, in both quantity and quality.

The most serious problems facing a country that frees itself is the
education problem. In talking of economically developed and underdeveloped
countries, perhaps not sufficient attention is given the tragedy of an
underdeveloped country, underdevelopment which is the result of age-old
colonial and imperialist exploitation, keeping people sunk in backwardness
and ignorance; and not enough attention is given the tragedy implied by the
lack of skilled personnel, the lack of qualified technicians, the lack of
skill among the people, because prior to any country's economic-industrial
development, or at least simultaneously with that development, the masses
must be educated.

In a little over eight years since the revolution, one can see what this
task of training qualified men and women means for our country. Already, in
various places, the first technicians trained since the revolution can be
found. They are but a small vanguard of the huge army that will follow. The
revolution has made enormous efforts in the preparation of this army. It
makes enormous efforts and it will make even more efforts to equip that
army with the adequate production means--production methods that are each
time more efficient, production methods that will multiply man's
production. We have also seen how, as far as agriculture is concerned, an
organization equipped with powerful machines is carrying out a gigantic,
revolutionary task in our countryside, ridding our country of underbrush,
thickets, and other weeds that limit our present agricultural development.
Our country has had to make a big effort.

I will read you the data that speaks of one of our needs--the need for
books brought about by the cultural and educational underdevelopment of the
people. Many will ask why there were so many illiterates. But it happens
that when illiteracy is liquidated and when an entire nation begins in
study its needs comes to the fore. This is why is is so necessary in these
times that the entire nation not only study but also work. Fortunately,
what we see everywhere is how this spirit to work takes hold of the people
and how this spirit to work, each time more and more, surges forth from our
people. We do not work because of a whim--not that we have a mania for
work--but we are motivated by a great and imperious need to work, if we
want to progress and shake off the yoke of misery, poverty, backwardness,
and underdevelopment.

Fortunately, our people understand this. They understand it better and
better, and this understanding is shown in many (?savings). Those of you
who are graduating today will start a new life in our country. You will
begin to work as graduates and at the same time you will continue to study
as good workers and good technicians. You will face new problems and new
tasks. You will face hardships. Many of you will go to isolated areas of
the country to teach. And if it is obvious that we have taken all the
necessary measures so that those who go into the teaching profession, in
the teacher-training schools, know the hardships of life in the rural areas
but still start their first studies in the mountains, it is because there
are always losses among the graduates.

Of course, all those who have worked during these years to train those
cadres for education, for teaching, suffer when they learn of those who
were not strong enough to pass the test. If it true that those who desert
the ranks in the work for which they were trained are fewer in number all
the time. Nevertheless, we always take into account that, inevitable, there
are some desertions. However, we hope that there will be increasingly fewer
and, on the other hand, more and more will be able to continue, tenaciously
and firmly, to perform their duties.

We have no doubt that each wave will be better than a previous one, just as
no one doubts that the new waves, those who are entering Primero de Mayo
school and those who are entering our primary school today, will get better
all the time. It is our duty, and we shall achieve it in the measure that
we provide better teachers, in the measure that we provide more resources
and more means--because all these efforts must be accompanied by a material
basis for education. We have no trained students, who have less of the
vestiges of individualism, selfishness, and the [word indistinct] of the

Our people have undertaken a long road. Our people have made a leap in
history. Tonight, you were able to see here, (?as I have seen), the history
of mankind and, within the history of mankind, the history of our nation.
The comrades here tonight reminded us of the struggles of our people for
their independence over a period of 100 years, and their heroic struggles
against the colonial power, their heroic struggles against the imperialist
power. And the reminded us of these years which are passing into the past:
the aggressions, the murders of students who went to teach the alphabet,
the criminal bombings perpetrated on the occasion of Playa Giron, precisely
in the midst of the literacy campaign, and the efforts the enemy made, in
vain, to prevent this march.

Our people intend to go far in this march, and they will go further as
future generations are better trained in all fields. In this long march, a
very important portion will have to be covered by you, a very important
portion will have to be covered by the children who are under your

It is the road to a new society never before known in history, in which
human beings become real brothers. That is what is called communism, and it
is something beyond socialism. It is not merely a problem of the
development or material wealth, it is also--and very essentially so--a
problem of the development of human conscience. [applause]

With work, we will create material wealth. With your work, we will create
human consciences. We shall train a being lacking selfishness, lacking the
old [word indistinct] of the past, but possessing a collective concept of
his effort, a collective sense of his strength--for, in truth, an isolated
man is nothing but an unhappy being. A united man adds his strength to that
of his fellow men, and he constitutes the great force that is today, for
example, the great strength of our people.

No one disputes the power of the imperialists, their arts, their
cleverness, and their ability to oppress, crush, and defeat the peoples and
subvert the revolutions. No one ignores their ability to do damage.
Nevertheless, the strength of the powerful Yankee imperialism has been
wrecked against the will of a small nation, the conscience of a small
nation. This is because the united strength, the militant strength the
conscious strength, the revolutionary strength of a people is

The comrade who spoke on behalf of the graduates [words indistinct]
appealed to that sense of the unity of all, that sense of responsibility,
that sense of the common goals you all have, because the Makarenkos and
Fajardo graduates and the Enrique Jose Varona professors will meet in the
same classrooms many times. They will meet in the same schools many times,
and they will meet, wherever they may be, with the graduates of other
schools, other technological institutes, or other educational centers. We
will have a nation which is not only better trained technologically, but a
people which is also better trained revolutionarily and, therefore, a
stronger people, a more solid and more invincible people.

You are graduating today with job over the work performed, but it would be
even better to look with joy at the great task ahead. There in no privilege
like the privilege of being young and having a great task ahead. You youths
who are graduating today have the great task ahead, that great privilege.
That is why we celebrate not only the effort made, but also the day in
which the greater effort of all of you is initiated. Fatherland or death,
we shall win!