Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

-DATE-
19721217
-YEAR-
1972
-DOCUMENT_TYPE-
SPEECH
-AUTHOR-
F. CASTRO
-HEADLINE-
GRADUATION-UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA
-PLACE-
CUBA
-SOURCE-
GRANMA WEEKLY REVIEW
-REPORT_NBR-
FBIS
-REPORT_DATE-
19730206
-TEXT-
CASTRO'S SPEECH AT UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA GRADUATION CEREMONY

[Speech given by Major Fidel Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Prime Minister of the
Revolutionary Government, at the Auditorium of the Central Organization of
Cuban Trade Unions, on the Occasion of the Graduation of 2,095 Students of
the University of Havana, on 8 December 1972, Year of Socialist Emulation;
Havana, Granma Weekly Review, English, 17 December 1972, pp 9-10]

Translation of the Transcript Made by the Department of
Stenographic Transcripts of the Revolutionary Government.

Comrade Leaders in the Field of Education;

Comrade Teachers;

Comrade Graduates;

Comrade Students:

I, too, have been given the job of saying a few words on the
occasion of your graduation. I don't think I'll be as brief as the comrade
Rector was, but I'll try to emulate with him. Please don't be alarmed by
the papers you see in my hand. They only contain data in relation to
today's graduation.

Comrade Hermes spoke of the various aspects of the student life of
the young people who are graduating tonight. And so did Comrade Lage, whose
beautiful, profound and heartfelt words reflected the feelings of the young
people who are graduating from our universities now. We have all felt deep
satisfaction on corroborating, on feeling such a spirit.

Doubtlessly, we have made progress. Doubtlessly, our university
today is incomparably better than it was in the early years of the
Revolution -- and infinitely superior to what it was prior to the
Revolution.

The university of the past wrote glorious pages, but it did so
precisely by trying to transform that past, in the days of the 1920's, in
the 1930's and in the days of the struggle against the Batista tyranny.

A vanguard of young people always existed, a vanguard aware of the
problems that affected the university, aware of the problems of the country
and of the rest of the world.

Today, it can be said that such an awareness is no longer that of
a vanguard alone, but rather of the immense majority of our student mass.

Tonight, we would like to refer chiefly to what we consider the
most novel, the most difficult and the most revolutionary of the changes
that have taken place in the university in these last years -- to a degree
that we could not have even imagined in the early days of the Revolution.

The University of the Past Offered but Little Opportunity for Study to
Young Workers and Farmers

In the university of the past there was talk of reforms; of the
need for research; of the need to change the structure of the university
and the composition of education. But when there was talk of change, no
mention was ever made of combining study and work. Naturally, such a thing
would have been impossible unless the other things were done first.

A list of the differences between the university of the past and
that of today would be practically endless, beginning with the fact that
the university of the past offered little opportunity for study to young
people from the ranks of the workers and farmers. This was because only
through great sacrifice could so e people from humble families who lived or
resided in an area where there was a university get a chance to begin, and
maybe conclude, their university studies.

Today, the possibility to study is a reality, a prerogative of any
young person in this country. Because, while in the past an individual
struggled to enter the university and to pay his tuition fees, today it can
be said that it's the other way around, that society is engaged in a
struggle to get the greatest number of young people to attend the
university; that society is making every effort to encourage and inspire
and urge every young person to get an education, to study; that society is
making an effort to give the young people every possible facility to study
at the university.

From the very beginning of the Revolution, it was possible --
within the means at our disposal -- to furnish the universities with the
material resources and installations to get the scholarship plan under way.
This made it possible for students to study with more ease, free of all the
bitter moments that they had to go through in the past.

A great effort was also made to keep the students from being put
under contract by state agencies, thus being pulled away from their
university studies. We went as far as to prohibit the contracting of
students. Facilities of every kind were given to help a student continue
his studies, even in the case of an unforeseen circumstance, in the event
of a special economic need.

There were some students who studied and worked in those days, but
study and work did not have the meaning they have today. In many instances
it was a matter of the various state agencies trying to grab the graduates
even while they were still studying, before they had actually graduated.
Unfortunately, there were cases where students were offered high wages to
lure them into a specific job and a real competition was going on between
the various agencies in order to attract them.

This method was radically changed quite some time ago, and today,
the distribution of graduates is done in a rational, centralized manner,
taking into account the priorities and the general needs of the country.

And thus, students began to participate in ever-increasing
numbers in productive activities.

Mention was made here of the students' participation in political
events and in productive tasks. Mention was made of their participation in
the sugar harvest of 1969 and, above all, of their large-scale
participation in the harvest of 1970.

Therefore, this group of graduates has had ample participation in
productive activities and, to a certain extent, they combined work and
study. But the combination of study and work did not yet have, at that
time, the character and the meaning it now has. Needless to say, the
procedure of separating a large number of students from their studies
completely, from their universities when the harvest got under way and
sending them to the sugar mills to take part in it for two, three, and even
four months was not exactly what we call the ideal method.

Nobody doubts that this helps them to have a clearer perspective
of the country's problems, that it prepares them and hardens them and makes
them adapt themselves to and have an awareness of the rigors and the
difficulties of work under the conditions that prevail in our country. But
that method could never be the ideal one.

The Step That Was Taken in the Combination of Study and Work Was A
Historical Event and a Real Revolution in University Education

And finally it was decided -- this was done in a rather discreet
way, without too much publicity and bearing in mind experiments carried out
in our country -- to take a decisive step in university education by
combining study and work, a combination which took on the character it has
today.

It is quite possible that the very people who played a role in
those events -- which began in this university -- have not yet fully
realized the enormous significance that this step will have on our
country's life and also the impact it is already making outside our country
and the impact it will have in the future changes that are going to take
place in the universities in other countries.

We believe that it was a historical event and constituted a real
revolution in education. It was anything but an easy step, since the need
to coordinate, to organize the direct and daily participation of university
students in productive activities called for a great effort. To begin with,
because of the locations of our factories in general, the students were to
be distributed practically throughout the city. Thus, students of medicine
would be working in a large number of hospitals and the students of
technology would be doing the same in a number of plants, and the same with
the students in the other schools of the university. This called for a good
coordination of working schedules, programs, the classes to be given each
week, the study material and so forth, with all this activity in full swing
throughout the city. This called, I repeat, for a great effort.

And it must be pointed out that you, teachers and students alike,
fulfilled your tasks.

We are not yet going to judge the effort by the results. The
results are highly satisfactory. But what is really admirable is that such
encouraging and really positive results were obtained in the first year
that the system was put into effect. In fact, even a small increase in
promotion was registered, as compared to the previous year. The essential
results in relation to the students and on the basis of the opinions of the
students them selves, can be summed up in four paragraphs from this report,
to wit:

"The majority of the students consider that their study discipline
is greater as compared to last year. "The majority of the students believe
that the study-work system will make them better workers and better
students.

"The majority of the students think that their political attitude
is superior to that of last year.

"The students who work at the grass-roots level, in direct
contact with the workers and with production, have become integrated into
the study-work system with a higher level of politicization than that of
students doing specialized work."

These four points by themselves reflect the essence of the
objectives of the concept of combined study and work, And this is only a
part of the benefits that our society will receive from this effort,
because, as time goes by, our future technicians' development, their
adaptation to and familiarization with our country's realities will be
incomparably greater. Moreover, our centers, thanks to this influx of young
energy, this influx of intellectual forces... because we must remember that
our universities contain tens of thousands of the country's best talents,
tens of thousands of young people with the highest level of knowledge in
our country. And something we come across all the time, everywhere, in our
country is a lack of knowledge, we come across ignorance and a lack of
training. It didn't seem logical that our country should be deprived of the
benefit of the participation of the vast mass of teachers and students in
its problems. In a poor country, in a country with an underdeveloped
economy, in a country lacking easy-to-reach natural resources, in a country
where ignorance and lack of culture had accumulated for years on end, to
deprive the students and the universities from participating in the
solution of the real and daily problems of our country not only conspires
against the development of those young people, not only tends to create
intellectual workers -- that is, men with a deformed way of thinking,
deformed by the habit of using only their minds and of developing only in a
theoretical and abstract manner -- not only conspires against the
development of future technicians but would also constitute a real crime
against the country.

The old concept of study went hand in hand with the old society --
the class society, the capitalist society, full of contradictions of every
kind, among them the contradiction between the interests of a minority of
intellectual workers and those of the entire society.

We Could Not Continue With a Concept of the University Similar to That Held
by a World That Was the Opposite of This World

The interests of that intellectual minority were in contradiction
with the mass development of the intellect. Let us take the case of the so-
called professional colleges. If they were medical colleges, they tried
to graduate the least number of doctors, because, given the conditions in
the country, there were hundreds and even maybe thousands of doctors who
did not have a job or were semi-employed. Considering that there was no
development in the field of public health, it was very logical for what few
doctors graduated from the universities to constitute a surplus and --
logically enough, too -- those who had managed to land a job, a position in
that society, a way to make a living somehow, tried to keep the knowledge
of medicine from becoming generalized. To make things even worse, they had
to compete, on the one hand, with the nanigos, witch doctors and other
fakers and, on the other, with those who have brought so many people into
the world; the midwives, men as well as women. They also had to put on
pressure to make admittance to the school of medicine even more difficult
and to keep the number of graduates as low as possible.

What would have been the sense, in such a world, to suggest that
students work in the hospitals when graduates from the school of medicine
could not get a job in the hospitals; when there were no hospitals; when
the people were not taken into consideration for anything; when public
health -- both in the curative and the preventive fields -- was
nonexistent; when medicine was an exclusive practice; when the practice of
medicine was nothing but a business -- and quite often, a dirty business --
when pharmacopoeia was nothing but a business, a scandalous, dirty business
and, sometimes -- or even better, practically all the time -- was plain
robbery? The whole list ran from witch doctors with university diplomas who
claimed they could cure cancer -- and there were ads in the papers which
claimed that such and such a thing cured cancer and such and such a thing
cured something else and still such and such other thing cured some other
illness -- to the doctors who operated on a person just to collect from the
insurance company and so they cut out his appendix or any other organ.

What sense would it have made to suggest that the students go to
work in such a world, in such a society? That would have been simply
impossible. The same could be said of the students in the teachers'
schools, in the institutes of technology or in any of the schools in the
university.

And since we now live in a completely different world; since all
those things, all those contradictions, all those horrors, all those
immoral things, all those crimes have been swept away; since public health
comes first; since the practice of medicine is no longer a question of
profit or speculation, of robbing the people; since the number of hospitals
has multiplied extraordinarily; since our medical service is aimed at
eradicating a large number of diseases and preventing many others; since
public health is undergoing a vast development; since the problem now is
just the opposite of what it was in the past -- now it's a question of a
lack of skilled personnel and doctors, for work is aimed at combating or
preventing disease as medicine's fundamental purpose and improving the
quality of medical service, at obtaining the largest number of specialists,
at having the lowest number of citizens per doctor -- we simply could not
continue with a concept of the university similar to that held by a world
that was the opposite of this world, the oppositie of the realities and the
objectives of this world.

That is precisely why the system of study and work was begun in
the branch of medicine, by combining study with work in the hospitals.

This step had fruitful results in the training of doctors. Those
who are familiar with the way doctors were trained in the past -- with
their strictly theoretical training, with all the trouble they had to go
through to acquire experience in order to get a job in a hospital -- know
the kind of quality and experience that a student of medicine acquires
today. And it can be said that one of the branches of education with the
highest technical level in our country is that of medicine; that it has
given forth the most skilled technicians. To a great extent, this is
because the system of combining study and work was put into effect in the
branch of medicine before any of the other university branches.

It is also true that the character of the profession and the fact
that the enemy tried to hit us in this area by attempting to take our
doctors away -- in fact, it did succeed in taking away 50 percent of our
doctors -- forced us to pay special attention to the school of medicine, to
draw special training plans, to try to increase the number of medical
students.

They Simply Didn't Give a Damn Whether Somebody Died Here Because They Had
Abandoned the Country

We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Victoria
de Giron School only recently. At the time the school was organized a
little over 10 years ago our country was going through a real crisis in the
matter of doctors, living under the threat that our population might suffer
terribly as a result of the imperialists' incredible crime of taking away
our doctors. The imperialists took away 3,000 of the 6,000 doctors that
were in our country prior to the Revolution. In other words, the sector of
medicine was split in half, 50 percent of the doctors remaining in our
country and the other 50 percent becoming traitors to their country. The
latter's attitude is perfectly understandable considering their mentality,
the mercantilist character of the practice of medicine, the lack of social
awareness and an elementary human sensitivity. Those people couldn't tell
the difference between a beast and a man and they simply didn't give a damn
whether somebody died here because they had abandoned the country.

The more time goes by, the more absurd and incredible it will seem
to future generations that such things should have happened in Cuba.
However, it wasn't limited to doctors, alone. It also happened among the
teachers, and many of them left the country.

We recall that, at the triumph of the Revolution, there were
10,000 teachers here without a job, practically rotting away waiting for
some politician, some ward heeler, some "friend" to find them a job as
teachers. And, even so, there was quite an exodus of teachers at the very
time when the struggle against illiteracy, the struggle for the education
of the masses, was getting under way. What kind of sensitivity, of social
conscience could theirs be? What could possibly be their idea of what a
human being is, of the needs of a human being? What did they really care
about the struggle against ignorance?

At that time, there was a surplus of teachers. Today, we don't
have enough teachers to meet our needs. When more than a million and a half
children are attending elementary school; when an effort is being made to
improve the quality of education -- not only quantitatively but also
qualitatively -- when the number of intermediate -- level students has
doubled or even tripled; when the number of university students is on the
increase; when a real struggle was waged to eradicate illiteracy and to
give our workers and farmers an education; when an effort is being made to
have all the people studying, it is logical that the number of teachers we
have is insufficient to meet our needs.

We will have to continue to train teachers on a mass scale for
many years to come. We have had to resort to what is known as people's
teachers in order to solve the problem in many schools. These are people
who have not yet graduated as teachers and are now working and studying to
win their title.

But there's more; selecting a young person who has just finished
sixth grade and sending him or her to a teacher training school is not and
can never be the ideal method, because it's still too early to see if he or
she has all the potentialities, the disposition and the aptitude and --
what is of fundamental importance -- the full cognizance of what he or she
is about to do. Nevertheless, many teacher -- training schools are being
filled with young people who have finished sixth grade. A day will come
when the future teachers will be selected from among those young people who
have finished junior high school, from those with a higher level of
knowledge.

All these situations are the result of the tremendous change that
has taken place in our country. That is why one of the ways in which
students are giving a great service to the Revolution and to the people is
by acting as teachers in the junior high schools, in the technological
schools and in senior high schools. Any analysis we may make of the
present, on the realities of the present, will make us realize that the old
concept of the university could not be maintained. And the most brilliant
men, those who were able to see into the future of the human society, also
said that the combination of study and work was the true revolutionary way
of educating. Marx and Marti had a great deal to say about this subject,
and Marx said that it was the only method for turning out fully developed
men.

Therefore, it is not only a question of the direct interest of
society or of the direct services derived from the combination of study and
work in the field of the economy, but also a question of the very
development of man, if we want to create fully developed individuals.

In Reality, the Application of the Principle of Universal Study Is Possible
Only to the Extent That Work Is Also Made universal

In our country, the need to combine study and work was more than
obvious. No poor country, no underdeveloped country can proclaim the
principle of universal education. No poor country can set itself the goal
of giving all its children and young people the opportunity to study
because such a possibility is out of reach of that country's economy in the
old concept of education. A poor country with the old concept of education
would have to settle for the principle that only part of the population
could study, thus the majority of the population would be deprived of an
education. By following the old concept, a country would be forced to do
exactly the same thing the capitalist society did, thus giving only a few
the opportunity to study while condemning the immense majority to
ignorance. That would be unfair, immoral and in no way revolutionary. That
would never make it possible for any country to solve its problems in the
long run.

If we analyze the cost of education, for example we will find that
the cost of education in Cuba will run to more than 700 million pesos by
1973. That's more than the entire budget of the Republic prior to the
Revolution. That's how much education will cost by 1973. Therefore, in
reality, the application of the principle of universal study is possible
only to the extent that work is also made universal.

If we maintained an ever-growing mass of students, of hundreds
of thousands of students in intermediate education, in the junior and
senior high schools and in the technological institutes, divorced from
productive activities, our country could never apply in a material form the
principle of universal education. To us, in addition to its being a moral
principle and a theoretical point, it is a pressing material need.

In the beginning, the combination of study and work was seen as
part of a person's education, but this other aspect of a material order was
not taken too much into consideration. Today, it is for our country a
material need and, at the same time, an educational need. And yet, if one
day human society should become so developed, so wealthy, economically
speaking, that it would not have -- as we have today -- to make use of the
combination of study and work, it would still.need to do so for educational
reasons.

Therefore, we believe that a step has been taken, that a phase has
been reached in the social process that is irreversible and that the method
of combining study and work will have to be applied always and on an ever
greater scale. Today we speak of elementary education, junior and senior
high school education and intermediate-level education, but the day will
come when the number of those interested in going on to advanced studies
will run into the hundreds of thousands. And when that happens, society
cannot prohibit those persons, any person who wishes to improve his
education, to make even more progress in mastering technology, more
progress in the field of knowledge -- a field that is expanding at
incredible speed -- from studying. Society could never prohibit anybody --
in fact itself -- from going on to higher learning. And the only way
advanced learning can also be made universal is to the extent that work is
made universal.

If we go a little further, in keeping with these ideas, there will
come a day when those who graduate from the university will realize that
all they have done is to get past a stage, that they have been awarded a
diploma, but that they will have to keep on applying the principle of study
and work for the rest of their lives. Because any doctor who graduates
today and stops studying will be a dangerous practicing physician within 10
years, an ignorant doctor who has been left behind. It is quite possible
that any doctor who graduates today and fails to open a book in the next 10
years will be nothing but a.witch doctor in 10 years.

This is reality itself, This is what life itself, science,
technology and the infinite expansion of knowledge imposes on us.

Therefore, whether he likes it or not, life makes it more and more
imperative for man to work with his mind. And the gap between intellectual
workers and manual workers must gradually disappear as a result of the
development of human society, because an ever -- growing number of people
will have to work with their minds as human society evolves. If human
society didn't evolve, such a need wouldn't exist; and if human society
should back slide into the age of primates there would be no need for
intellectual workers. However, as society develops and evolves, an ever --
larger percentage of men will have to work with their minds in order to
satisfy society's most elemental needs.

Thousands of Students Have Gone to the Work Centers, While Thousands of
Workers Have Registered in the University

Thus the Marxist principle that one day the cruel difference, the
cruel division between manual and intellectual workers must end, responds
to a reality. The development of human society will necessarily lead us to
the moment when all society will have to work with its hands and with its
mind.

This seems hard to understand today, just as many things today
seemed difficult to understand yesterday. Today we see so few intellectual
workers and technicians, we see so few scientists that just the idea that
one day the division between manual and intellectual labor will disappear
seems absurd.

We could say that those are the fundamental aspects, because in
the above -- mentioned report, which contains the positive results of the
combination of study and work, there is something which is not clear to
many: what the objectives of the combination of study and work are. Besides
the practical and immediate matters, besides the necessity for our
technicians to become better acquainted with reality and better trained,
there are all those basic principles, all those matters that affect the
future and the perspectives of human society.

That is why, partly due to our most immediate needs, our country
has had the privilege -- we could call it the privilege -- of taking an
extraordinary step down this road. The large -- scale application of study
and work in all three of our universities is undoubtedly a historic step.

By means of this step, almost 16,000 students in the University of
Havana alone started participating in productive activities. This
contribution, this effort and this presence of students, and professors on
many occasions, in the productive centers, makes itself felt because of its
effect on those work centers, because of the influence on the workers; in
the same way that the influence of reality and influence of the work spirit
on our university students is also noted.

But, there is also an immediate advantage that has been obtained
with this measure, and it is the fact that more than 8,000 workers have
registered in for first -- year courses at the university this year; more
than 8,000 workers! That is, thousands of students have gone to work
centers, while thousands of workers have registered in the university. More
than 6,000 workers are now in introductory courses.

The application of that principle in this university alone has
resulted in 14,000 workers studying.

If we think about this, we begin to realize that there is a real
possibility to universalize university knowledge and that the possibility
of being a producer, worker or a direct creator of goods or services and
being a university student at the same time exists and that society can set
those goals for itself and attain them.

But if we look not at the university, if we look at what is going
on at a lower level, if we look at the junior high schools in the
countryside and what is going on there, at the results of the application
of the principle of study and work, we find that last year we had five or
six junior high schools in the countryside, while this year we have 51. In
other words, we have 25,500 students in those junior high schools and they
have just had their first exams.

One of the most interesting things is the question of promotion.
For the first time in the history of the students, and perhaps for the
first time since there were students, the matter of promotion became a
problem of concern to them. The same causes that we had already explained,
the same contradictions that conspired against study in the past, made
study something that parents were concerned about -- the minority of
parents who were able to pay for the studies of their children or who could
send them to school. The family was interested in having its child obtain
certain knowledge so that he would get a top post. Promotion was something
which concerned the family first of all, and it might have been, in part,
something which concerned the professors.

Promotion Is No Longer a Problem of Concern to the Family or the Professors
Alone, It Is a Fundamental Problem of the Students Themselves

But in our country, to the extent that this principle of study and
work is applied, and especially in those centers where this principle is
already being fully applied, promotion is no longer a problem of concern to
the family or the professors alone, it is an important and fundamental
problem of the students themselves. When we had seen the strength of the
promotion idea among the students, we asked ourselves what the results
would be; what the results of an educational system in which every student
spent three hours a day in direct productive activity would be. We have the
results here in the first exams that have been held at the junior high
schools in the countryside.

As you know, we didn't have enough teachers for those junior high
schools. How were we going to solve the problem of the teachers for those
junior high schools of those teachers who have to be in the interior and
who must be in the countryside, if the country lacked teachers?

Well it was solved through the application of the principle of
study and work; through the recruitment of young people who had graduated
from tenth grade and who wanted to start work as teachers in those schools
-- guided by a small collective of teachers with more knowledge -- and at
the same time study to be teachers.

The application of the principle of study and work was the only
possible way to provide teachers for these schools. We didn't have the
teachers for 50, so how could we have the m for 200 and then for 500? How
were we going to have them for 1,000 or 2,000 schools, including
technological institutes, polytechnical schools, senior high schools and
junior high schools? simply by means of the application of the principle of
study and work. Here we have the results: the historical average of
promotions after final exams (the average for finals is always higher than
that of the first exams) was about -- or a bit over -- 70 percent. Only one
of these 50 schools has an average of less than 70 -- percent promotion
with 68 percent; 24 others had promotion rates between 70 and 90 percent;
25 schools had promotion rates of more than 90 percent; and 13 schools were
above the 95-percent mark. We have schools like the Karl Liebknecht, of
Santa Clara, with 98.2 percent; Vanguardia de La Habana, in the Isle of
Pines, 98 percent; Heroes de Varsovia, in Ariguanabo, Havana, 97.8 percent;
General Antonio Maceo, of Ceiba, Havana, 97.6 percent; Primero de Mayo, in
Santa Clara, 97.3 percent; General Jose Artigas, in Ariguanabo, Havana,
97.3 percent; Comuna de Paris, in Ariguanabo, Havana, 96.8 percent; General
Maximo Gomez, in Ariguanabo, Havana, 96.7 percent; Republica Popular de
Bulgaria, in Artemisa, Havana, 96.6 percent; General Bartolome Maso, in
Holguin, 95.7 percent; Mariana Grajales, in Holguin, Oriente, 95.7 percent;
Republica Democratica Popular de Argelia, in Quivican, Havana, 95.3
percent; and Batalla de las Guasimas, in Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, 95
percent. Of the seven junior high schools of this kind in Oriente Province,
five have a promotion rate of more than 90 percent in the first exams. This
is a phenomenon which is noted in Havana, the Isle of Pines, Las Villas,
Oriente and Camaguey.

In all the history of our country when did a junior high school
reach a promotion rate of 98.2 percent, 97.8 percent or 90 percent in first
exams? When? If you look through the records of all the junior high schools
there have been in this country, you won't find anything like this.

One of the most amazing results of the application of study and
work at the junior high school level is that obtained in the pedagogical
field. That is, the academic results, giving pedagogy a more global
concept. The academic results are amazing in spite of the fact that the
great majority of these schools are new; that the teachers are not very
experienced; that the Ministry of Education has not yet been able to gather
all the lessons resulting from the operation of these schools, in the
fields of improved leadership methods and of work with teachers and
students; and that a large part of the teachers are students of the
pedagogical detachment.

What will it be like when we have together with hundreds of
schools, more than 1,000 or even 2,000 schools, in industry and in
agriculture by combining study and work for intermediate-level students?
What will it be like when we have teachers who have graduated and have many
years of experience? What will it be like when thousands of these young
people in the pedagogical detachment have graduated as teachers after five
years in which study and work have been combined? Studying and working in
the school, will it or will it not be possible for our country to set
itself a goal of promotion rates above the 90-percent mark? We are
absolutely sure that the promotion rate in the 51 schools that opened this
year will be greater than 90 percent. The rate is a bit over 87 percent in
the first exams, which are always lower than the finals.

Now the Ministry of Education can immediately direct its efforts
at finding out the reasons why a school had a promotion rate of 68 percent.
Whether the leadership was bad, or if it was a case of inefficiency by the
teachers, or if there was a concentration of students who came from
elementary schools with a very low level. For the Ministry of Education, in
these typical schools, with a typical system of study and work, it will be
much easier to see what the problems and difficulties are and supply the
experiences of the most advanced schools in the ones that lag behind.

There is no doubt that these schools open up tremendous
perspectives for our country in the fields of education, culture and
sports, because they are schools with the necessary material equipment and
installations, schools that have unlimited possibilities.

These Schools Mark the Start of a Ceaseless Process of Pedagogical Research
and of Studying Their Potentialities, Which Are Limitless in Our Opinion

We feel that these schools mark the start of a ceaseless process
of pedagogical research and of studying their potentialities, which are
limitless in our opinion.

In the old junior high school, in the old conception, we would
never have had results like this. And of course our country would never
have been able to set itself the goal of obtaining promotion rates over the
90-percent mark -- as is already evident we will obtain at these
schools.

This project is not only going on at the junior high school level,
there are elementary schools where the principle of combining study and
work has started to be applied. it is easier to do this in rural schools
because there is a simple shop on hand there: a few acres of land, with the
production of vegetables. It is harder to do this in the cities. But the
first schools in Alamar are already combining study and work, with the
support of the few industries that provide materials for the students to
work with in elementary schools: assembling toys or things like that; or
the pharmaceutical industry, so that some of those schools can do packing
work, for example, in which hundreds or thousands of adults are often used.

Unfortunately, we are still not clear about how we are going to
introduce the principle of combining study and work in urban elementary
schools on a large -- scale basis in view of our small industrial base. In
the rural schools, there are almost 60 elementary schools in Havana
Province that have agricultural gardens, and the results at some of them
are really amazing.

If today we have a generation like you, with the great concepts
you have and with the great spirit you have, what will it be like on the
day that these young people -- who from the seventh grade, acquire the
habit of work and study along with the discipline of work and study --
start to graduate from our universities? When these young people reach the
university they will have much more knowledge and much better training than
that with which you entered the university -- academic training and social
training -- more discipline in studies and more discipline in work. what
will it be like on the day that those generations who combined study and
work from the elementary school level start to graduate from the
university?

In order to apply this principle it was necessary to overcome
prejudices, pessimism and difficulties. We advocated this principle for
elementary school and we said that it should include fourth, fifth and
sixth grades. But there is a school with an outstanding director who has
obtained great successes with the school's 900 students. It is an
elementary school with more than 120 acres of vegetables. He decided to
include the first-, second- and third -- graders, and wound up taking the
preschool children to the garden as well (APPLAUSE), demonstrating that
even children that age can carry out useful activities; they are capable of
carrying out some kind of productive social activity. They have barely
learned to walk, and they are already doing something useful.

We must not forget what Comrade Lage said about the socialist
Revolution marking the end of the prehistory of mankind, which was Marx's
phrase. That is the truth: class society is a prehistoric society, with all
its vices and horrors. Of course, man could not overcome class society in
an idealistic manner. It could only be overcome as a result of the historic
evolution of human society itself. The so-called utopians were the ones
who wanted to change it when conditions were not ripe, when it could not be
the result of an evolution. They felt that the new society would simply
come out of their heads. But the differences are so fantastic and fabulous
between the conceptions and moral principles that are in force in one
society and another, that one really gets the feeling that a stage in the
history of mankind is ending and another is beginning.

Class society has always committed two great crimes, injustices,
mistakes or stupidities: it underestimated children and young people. That
is typical class society: this superpaternalism, this underestimation of
every young person -- considering them incapable of anything -- and the
underestimation of children. Reality is showing us the possibilities of
young people and children. Those results at the junior high schools in the
countryside are showing us. And the things which are being demonstrated
with the first elementary schools that combine study and work are showing
us.

The Most Outstanding Thing About This Graduation Is That It Is the First
One Taking Place After the Principle of Study and Work Was Put Into Effect,
One Year Ago

We repeat an idea which we feel is essential: now that you have
obtained your university degree with which you will fully carry out the
activities you are assigned, you must continue to be students. As students
you have ended one stage, the stage of getting a degree. So far you have
been worker students. In the future you must be student workers. That is
the reality, the change.

The university that we knew was not a universtiy of study and
work. If we had to describe it in some way, we would call it a university
of loafing and no work. You neither studied nor worked: neither of the two.

Life changes. It is changing more and more. You must follow the
logical consequences of this process. Perhaps you will have to return to
the university, as Hermes said, to carry out advanced studies or
post-graduate courses. Or else, without returning to the universities, you
must study all you lives on your own.

This is the first joint graduation. Before, the medical school
would have its graduation one day, the pedagogical school on another and
the school of technology on the other. We feel that it is a good thing and
a good tradition for the university to have its graduations on a joint
basis every year.

The most outstanding thing about this graduation is that it is the
first one taking place after the principle of study and work was put into
effect, one year ago.

In this moment of satisfaction for everyone, for us and especially
for you, in which a stage of your lives comes to an end, in which you reap
the fruits of consistency, effort, tenacity and willpower, in this moment
in which you can see and feel the results of an effort of which all of you
must be proud and satisfied, we would like to express our deep satisfaction
over the remarks made on your behalf by Comrade Lage and for the remarks of
the Comrade Rector. We would also like to express our appreciation for the
cooperation that the university, the professors and the students gave the
revolutionary concept of combining study and work, of your contribution to
that effort, thanks to which we can say that our University is in a
vanguard position and thanks to which many delegations that visit us are
filled with admiration and confidence in the future of our country.

But if it has been possible to take this step, in spite of the
difficulties involved, it is due to your cooperation. And this reflects the
quality of today's students.

Patria o Muerte!

Venceremos!

(OVATION)
-END-


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