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FL202219Y Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 2123 GMT 20 Jul 77 FL

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro marking graduation ceremony for the
Manuel Ascunce Domenech teacher training detachment held at Lazaro Pena
auditorium, Havana--live]

[Text] Comrades of the leadership of the party, the government, youths and
mass organizations, dear comrades of the first contingent of the Manuel
Ascunce Domenech detachment, students, relatives:  Five years ago, at the
end of the second youth congress in this same theater from this same
platform, we issued an appeal to our students to resolve one of the most
acute and apparently unsolvable problems we faced in carrying out our
educational development.  Today, once again demonstrating that time flies
and that all noble efforts always have results, we are all attending with
pleasure and emotion this first graduation of the members of the
contingent, of the members of the detachment.

The understand the stimulating significance of this graduation, it is
necessary to recall the enormous obstacles which necessary to overcome
during these years to reach the present stage in our education system.  We
believe that no one can truthfully say that any country in Latin
America--and we could include the rest of this hemisphere--has achieved
such high successes in education as has our country.  Of course, we cannot
think that all is going well, that there are no differences or anything
like that.  We could say that the successes achieved thus far demonstrate
what we will achieve in the future.

Where did we start from, what did we start from?  In a country with a
30-percent illiteracy rate and in which the rate of either illiteracy or
semiliteracy was 95 percent, some knew how to read a little and did not
have to use their fingerprint as their signature but they had a
first-grade, a second-grade education.  A very high percentage of children,
especially in the rural areas, but also in the cities did not have schools
or teachers.  I do not remember exactly but I believe that there were about
600,000: I do not believe that there were 700,000 primary school students.
If things remained that way, practically half the children of that age
would have left school.  A curious thing: There were 10,000 unemployed
teachers.  The most difficult thing was to find a teacher to send to the
rural areas, especially to send to the mountains.  In the capital, there
were many unemployed teachers, but it was not easy to have a teacher
available in rural areas.

Also, then came the intense social struggles experienced in those years.
As a result it caused some teachers without employment and some with
employment to decide to leave the country.  However, with the victory of
the revolution, this category of unemployed teachers disappeared.
Immediately, thousands of classrooms were opened in all parts of the
country.  From the first, the struggle to combat illiteracy began.  The
historic campaign was begun and with the help of the students the situation
was resolved.  In a year we were able to eradicate almost all illiteracy.
Then came the programs to continue one's education, the plans to educate
adults, to such an extent that today our central organization of Cuban
workers is struggling to have all workers in the country a sixth-grade
education by the year 1980.

Logically, this great effort had to start with the illiterates and with
primary education.  The number of those who reached the sixth grade was
very low, and consequently so was the number who entered secondary school
or the pre-university institute.  I'm not talking about technical or
polytechnic schools, because they practically did not exist in the country.

I believe that the total number of students at the middle educational level
was 70,000 and there were about 15,000 universities students.  There was a
structure of school registration that was very disproportionate and without
any relation to the country's needs.  This effort which the revolution
undertook from the first therefore required a growing number of teachers,
above all in the primary schools.  There were not enough teachers for both
children and adults.  They were not enough.  It was also necessary to
resort to the masses, to the workers' organizations to the Committee for
Defense of the Revolution, to the Federation of Cuban Women, to the
Association of Small Farmers to recruit citizens with a certain educational
level to teach in the schools, after a crash course to train them as

Student registration increased each year.  At a given time we had about 2
million in the primary schools, compared with 700,000 before the victory of
the revolution.  Not only did the growth in population influence that
number, not only the fact that schools and teachers appeared suddenly
throughout the whole country, but also the fact that there were many who
were behind in their education in the past.  Children who were 14, 15, 16
years of age were in the fourth or fifth grades.  Not only were there
children of six different ages together, but there were seven, eight, or
ten because of the fact that some were behind in their education.  The
number of teachers needed for adults and children grew extraordinarily, and
the solution was only this:  crash courses and teachers without degrees.

In this manner in 1969, during the 1969-70 school term, about 70 percent of
primary school teachers did not have degrees.  To this was added the fact
that the first solution we tried to use in the problem of training teachers
were not the best.  Deeply concerned by the fact that teachers were not
available for the rural areas, especially for the most remote areas, we
began initially the plan to assign those teachers to the most remote areas,
but the material condition and circumstances did not promote the training
of the large number of teachers we needed.  Therefore, at a given time we
changed the plan and adopted the decision to build schools for primary
education teachers in all areas of the 14 provinces that does not have its
own school for primary education teachers, with truly modern installations
in almost all.  In a short time, those modern installations that are
lacking will be built.

At present we have a capacity for 35,000 students in the primary education
teacher-training schools.  This is the number of students that we have in
these training centers--35,000.

However, when some problems are solved they cause other problems.  In
solving the problem of primary education, we had the pressing need to solve
the question of secondary education, because when the number of graduating
students increased, the number of students graduating from the sixth grade
grew like bubbles.  What were we going to do with those who graduated from
the sixth grade?  The country had to solve this problem, in which school
were they going to study, we had even going to teach them?  If we did not
have teachers for the primary schools, we had even fewer teachers for the
secondary schools and for the pre-university institutes.

Also, during those years, few people from high schools, and those who
entered the universities to study education were very few.  How were we to
solve that problem?  At that time the idea of the work-study school, the
basic secondary school in the rural areas, emerged.  This made the problem
even more difficult because not only were teachers needed for the secondary
schools, but also for the secondary schools in the rural areas.  We could
not let these students remain with a sixth-grade education.  In the past a
sixth-grade education was something, but today it is nothing.

I believe that in the near future, those who have only a sixth-grade
education will be able to consider themselves illiterate, so to speak.
What will a sixth-grade education mean for the learning needed by a society
which is progressing dynamically, which makes a progress every day, which
changes a world which changes every day, how will a sixth-grade education
help one to face these realities?

At the same time we reached a situation in which study was becoming
universal, and to make education universal in an underdeveloped country,
without any oil let us say, from the economic viewpoint it was necessary to
make work universal.  However, even if we had oil, it would have been
highly convenient to make work universal, to be highly trained in all
areas, highly revolutionary.  It was for such a reason that these ideas
were proposed a long time ago by Marx and by Marti.

The task of implementing this program required an extraordinary
construction effort.  It was shown that we could build many schools.  At
that time some people thought there were too many schools.  We were
convinced that there were too few schools.  We were convinced that there
were too few schools.  Nonwithstanding the fact that the program spoke of
hundreds of schools of that level, in effect we reached a time when 150
schools which could hold 70,000 to 80,000 students were not sufficient to
take care of a growth of more than 100,000 students at the secondary school
level every year.  We did not want to renounce the principle that each
child who reached the sixth grade, no matter where he lived, in Baracoa, in
the second front, in the Sierra Maesta, in the Caujeri valley, wherever
they lived would have the chance to continue his studies.  And since the
new, and we could even say brand new, schools we were building with a
beautiful architecture which was absolutely functional, with all the
equipment and laboratories, were not sufficient.  It was necessary to
resort to other means, to wooden schools such as the ones used to house the
canecutters during the harvest.  Thus emerged the wooden schools along with
the cement schools.  But they were not sufficient either.

Then it was necessary to resort to any place, a house somewhere, an office
somewhere else, wherever, in the small towns, in the cities, to place
secondary schools everywhere.  The hundred or so schools built by the
brigades--and the wooden structures were not sufficient.  In a year, around
100 wooden structures were built.  It was necessary to seek other
installations, and we sought them and adapted them.  And it was necessary
to seek school materials, chairs, everything needed in a school.

Later, the difficulties did not end.  Later, it was not 110,000 or 120,000;
it was 150,000 who entered the secondary schools.  There was not enough of
anything.  Then, it was necessary to invent once again.  We liked the rural
boarding schools; without a doubt, they are magnificent schools.  Life has
proven this.  Practice has proven this.  Furthermore, they not only have an
educational goal, they play a productive role.  On the Isle of Pines, for
example, there are already 24,000 hectares of citrus fruit.  We could not
even dream of having those 24,000 hectares of citrus fruit on the Isle of
Pines and caring for them without the 40 secondary and pre-university
schools which are already on the Isle of Pines.  The same is true in Guane,
in Jaguey, in Sola and in many places where we have plans for citrus or
other plans.

However construction materials were not sufficient to build more schools of
this kind, to build a larger number.  The equipment was not sufficient.
The convertible currency to buy some necessary materials was not enough,
and we had to face this problem of the sixth-grade graduates.  Even by
reducing by 1 year, as the middle-level education was reduced by the
improvement system, it was not enough.  We had to decide to reduce the
number of rural boarding schools which were being built every year.  We had
to do something which we did not want, which we were trying to avoid--to
build secondary schools in the cities too.  Don't believe that we have
given up the idea of having everyone in secondary schools be in rural
boarding secondary schools.  Understand this well, we are only giving it up
for the time being.

We said well, of course, many families prefer rural schools.  I am
convinced of this, that they feel better about them, and it is a kind of
aid to the families also, since in the rural boarding schools the students
receive their clothes and food, and this reduces the family living
expenses.  And above all, the students devote more time to studies, are
better organized, are better disciplined.  And they work.  They youth in
the cities, unfortunately, goes to a class in the morning and then no one
can control him for the rest of the day, or vice versa.

Therefore, we continue to build rural secondary and pre-university boarding
schools, polytechnic schools.  But now we are also building them in the
cities.  A school in the city where we do not have to build dormitories or
other facilities can hold 3,000 students, especially if we have a morning
and an afternoon session in the city schools, while a rural boarding school
can only hold 600.  Even if we know that the quality of this education [in
the city] cannot be compared with the other, for this reason we cannot give
up the idea that some day at this age, the student will be in rural
boarding schools.

The day will come when the growth per year will not be like it is now.  Now
there is an explosion, but it is an atomic explosion to such an extreme
that already this term we have 717,000 in secondary schools, and the next
term we will have 840,000.  Even if we could not have the ideal quality of
education, we had to solve the problem.  I repeat, we have not stopped
building rural boarding schools and similar ones, but we devoted part of
these resources to build secondary schools in the cities.

You also know that for the rural students, among other things, there is no
other solution but the rural boarding schools.  They live in isolation.  It
is impossible to build one secondary school; they would have to walk dozens
of kilometers.  For this reason we have been basically reserving the rural
secondary boarding schools at this stage for those who because they live in
the rural areas have no other opportunity to study.  Preferably we want to
turn them into pre-university students since if now we cannot have all the
secondary school students in schools of this kind, we are going to try to
have the 90 to 100,000 or 120,000--the number is disputed every day--high
school degree students in the rural areas, to have the majority of them in
the rural areas.  And we are going to try to fulfill the principle of
studying work with them, or that principle of the importance of the study
of work when everyone studies, thereby avoiding developing a society of
intellectuals.  It is not that we do not have a society of intellectuals,
we want a society of intellectuals but at the same time a society of
workers:  men and women who know how to work with their minds and with
their arms.  Socialism is the first opportunity, truly, where everyone can
study and everyone can study without limits; don't believe that we want to
put limits to study.

Do not believe it just because of the fact that there is an admissions
limit for the universities.  Actually, we do not set the limits.  The
limits are imposed by the number of facilities we have and the number of
university professors we have.  For this wave hit us in successive states:
First there was the wave of primary [school students] followed by the wave
of secondary [school students] or explosion or whatever you want to call
it.  And then came the university explosion.  By this school year we
already had 105,000 university students and we are going to have 150,000 by
1980.  However, there is no solution yet for all the youths and workers who
hope to undertake university studies.

I have spoken about these things on previous occasions.  We also hope that
university education can be universalized.  What does this mean?  To offer
each citizen the opportunity to take university studies, although not all
in regular classes since everyone understands that it would be practically
impossible to have a million university students taking regular courses.
There is the possibility of studying through other means.  It could be by
means of directed studies, which demonstrated their possibilities in
practice.  Therefore, each citizen in our country should have a real
opportunity to undertake university studies.

The problem of the world today teach us certain things.  All those goals
and objectives of developed capitalist societies cannot be our objectives.
They launched themselves on a search for luxuries in all fields and with
the idea of each family with an automobile consequences of all this.  In
the first place, this cannot be a model of any type for the rest of the
world, for the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Can you
imagine every citizen of India with an automobile and each citizen of China
with an automobile and every citizen of African struggling to have an

Obviously, if petroleum, as it is said, will last a few years, just scores
of years, I want to know how long petroleum would last in the world if the
billions of inhabitants of this planet devote themselves to thinking of
those dreams, those models of development.  No, the countries of the
so-called Third World, of Asia, Africa and Latin America cannot use their
gasoline in automobiles simply because they have to use it to produce
nitrogenous fertilizers to produce foodstuffs, textile materials to produce
clothing, shoes and materials of all types and an infinite number of
essential products, indispensable for life.

If we were to make a society of automobiles in the future there would not
be a single ton of fertilizer with which to cultivate sugarcane and produce
foodstuffs because the fertilizers come precisely from naphtha.  Industry
requires fuel oil.  Transportation requires other more light fuels.  But
gasoline is a raw material in our case and when we build new refineries the
gasoline produced by those refineries must be used to produce fertilizers
and for the petrochemicals we need because an essential ingredient in the
production even of soap comes from petrochemical products.

Our peoples cannot let themselves be driven by those sweet songs and by
those insanities of those societies which today do not know what their
future will be.  They do not know.  And they continue to build automobiles
because if they do not produce them they then have unemployment and if they
have unemployment they have a crisis, and so forth.  It is a vicious

Well, then, we believe that our society--along with material development,
constant and as great a possible improvement in housing, recreation,
nutrition, clothing, shoes; in other words, along with the constant
improvement of the indispensable material goods--has the possibility for an
extraordinary enhancement of man in the cultural and spiritual fields.
This is so because one does not have a university degree just because the
title makes one able to work on something, but because of the immense
personal satisfaction that knowledge gives and to certify such knowledge.

Of course, one does not get a university degree to exhibit it, but the
degree means that the knowledge upon which it is based has been
systematically tested.  Of course, a university degree is not a personal
piece of property; it is a measure of the knowledge of persons, of the
cultural, educational, technical, professional and scientific development
of a human being.

Naturally, if in future Cuban society hundreds of thousands or millions of
persons have university degrees, it does not mean--we have said this other
times--that each can be given a job according to his degree.  But if
someone drives a tractor and he wants to be an engineer, because he wants
to be an engineer and takes all pertinent studies and gets his degree even
if he continues with his tractor...[Castro does not complete thought] of
course, I am convinced of one thing.  An engineer gets much more
productivity out of a tractor and drives it much better.

I speak of this:  We believe that no one's desire to systematically take
higher educational studies should be restricted.  That is why we say that
what imposes limits today is the number of facilities and the number of
professors.  But I believe that our society will be able to give enough of
itself to continue expanding those capabilities at the universities and the
number of the university professors in such a way that, apart from regular
studies, everyone who wants to take directed studies can do so.

And we know the satisfaction that is gained from studies because many of
the comrades of the government, ministers and members of the Poliburo are
studying.  They are taking higher education studies.  They are not doing
this for a financial goal; they are doing it to acquire more knowledge, to
be more efficient in their work and in understanding problems.  And I know
how happy those comrades of different ages feel when they take an
examination and do well in it and when they get a good grade.

Therefore, there is a certain satisfaction from study and it is of great
importance for a human being.  And we could say that socialism does not
offer and will not offer every citizen the opportunity to have an
automobile, but it will offer him the extremely honorable opportunity to
take higher educational studies for his greatest preparation, his greatest
efficiency at work regardless of its type and, above all, for his deepest
personal satisfaction.

There is another factor that promotes study and it is that everyone is
studying.  New generations come with new cultures.  Man has a certain
spirit of emulation.  No one wants to stay in the sixth grade.  Besides,
with a sixth-grade education he is not going to understand 80 recent of the
things he reads.  He is not going to be satisfied with a basic secondary or
pre-university schooling.  That is a certainty and it can be seen.  And
life itself, society itself itself in its development will demand from each
citizen and maximum of knowledge.  That is why we will struggle to insure
that opportunity in one way or another can exist for all the country's
citizens.  And I repeat that this does not imply that there will be a job
for every degree.  This is impossible.

Personal records are already taken into consideration for regular studies
today.  The day will come when there will be too many doctors, too many
engineers, too many economists, and I do not know when there will be too
many because we cannot think only of ourselves.  Who trains doctors for
Africa?  Who is training them?  Well, we are, and also engineers and
technicians.  There is an enormous world.  There is an enormous world.  And
I cite Ethiopia as an example--35 million inhabitants, 125 doctors.  to
have the level we have they need 40,000.  Ah, and [how about] the public
health condition in which imperialism left that country:  150,000 lepers,
450,000 with tuberculosis, 7 million with malaria and 14 million persons
with varying degrees of eye infection.  Tell me if they need or do not need
doctors, farmers, engineers, agronomists, veterinarians, everything.
Tell me if they need then or not.  And that is the situation in a large
part of the world.

Of course, in order to go as a doctor to any African country one must be
above all a revolutionary and that is they type of technician our country
is developing, precisely that type of man.

In the past we did not have doctors to send even to Baracoa because it was
too far.  There were no doctors to send even to rural areas.  And we
already have doctors to send to Africa and other countries and other
continents.  Naturally, our country is a small one.  We are not oil
producers, as we have said.  We could not carry the economic burden of
sending tends of thousands of technicians to those countries, but there is
always a way.  Some who have more resources can pay some compensation.
those who have none would simply [provide] housing and food and we here
will pay the salary.  And cooperation between several countries in the
world could emerge to help a third country.  Some could provide the
technicians, others could provide the financing.  In any case, we know that
the world is going to need the technicians we are developing.  We are
convinced of this.  There can be compensation in one way or another.  What
is received on the one hand can be donated on the other.  In other words,
it is possible but it does not mean that we can carry the economic burden
of all this, but there are many formulas.

I am therefore convinced, I am convinced that, for example, there is never
going to be a doctor surplus here.  To cite an example:  We now have one
doctor per 900-odd inhabitants.  However, we do not have a doctor on each
fishing boat.  We do not have a doctor on each merchant ship.  We do not
have a doctor at each factory and it would be [good] to have a doctor at
each important factory on a permanent basis.  We do not even have a doctor
at each school.  There are places in this country were doctors could be
assigned, but above all there are places outside this country.  And the
same will happen with other types of technicians.

I mentioned the case of Ethiopia.  We are providing it with medical
assistance now and a brigade of more than 300 doctors and public health
assistants is being sent to Ethiopia.  Doctors alone total some 140.  Our
country has those doctors that go to Ethiopia or wherever just as it has
engineers and university professionals or any other type who are willing to
go anywhere.

We must not think of our needs alone.  We must think of the needs of
billions of human beings in this world.  And so you know how much a Western
European doctor charges in an African country?  From $2,000 to $3,000
monthly.  And even then they do not come out.  They do not always come out.
But the type of revolutionary communist technician that our revolution is
developing is available.  [applause]

I have mentioned these things to emphasize the importance which, in our
judgment, studies and higher education have and these ideas of making a
reality of the principle that every man being who wants to take such
studies can do so even if he will not have a material need of them in order
to live.

Problems similar to those I have mentioned concerning secondary and
pre-university education also emerged in technical and professional
education.  And a detachment also emerged.  It is not too large.  It is a
very small teachers training detachment but it already has 1,500 in the
first contingent.  I believe the second one has as many.  That problem is
already emerging.  Of course, the universities need to train many of their
graduates as professors.  They ask and demand and we must grant them.  They
keep a certain percentage of the graduates.  Do not think these are going
into the economy.  I am not referring to the university centers of the
Education Ministry because these keep everyone, absolutely all.  [laughter]
They are all in education.  Some are employed as professors at teachers
training institutes, others are sent to secondary schools.

But other technicians, economists, engineers are sought after by many
people and the university claims its portion because it says:  I am
growing, I am growing.  From where am I going to get professors?
Therefore, the university is producing professors for itself.  I imagine
that later these professors will get a scientific or other degree.  The
idea of the detachment has served to solve other problems in other areas of

This general picture since the early years which I have been describing has
changed much, more.  And it is encouraging, gratifying.  It could be said
that as a Cuban one feels proud to see the advances made knowing that we
are one-third of the way.  Yes, we are practically beginning.  But now, how
many persons do we have studying to be teachers?  I bet you cannot guess.
[laughter] Even I am amazed and I always carry educational and other data.
Among students under the regular systems:  there are the 35,000 in teacher
schools, superior institutes of which we already have eight superior
teacher training schools for training teachers of secondary, pre-university
and similar schools, one for training teachers for technical schools and a
superior language institute.  And if we add the detachment which before
your graduation already had 19,000, more than 19,500, almost 20,000--you
can estimate the strength--the total in regular studies amount to 67,000
and 78,000 in directed studies.  There are presently a total of 145,000
persons in Cuba being trained as teachers, 145,000.  This is a respectable
figure.  [all figures as heard]

In 1970 we had 70 percent of the primary school teachers without
certificates and now it is just 40 percent and in 3 more years there will
not be a single primary school teacher without a certificate.  In 3 more
years.  This has been estimated mathematically.  Ninety-six point 6 percent
of primary school teachers without certificate are studying to get it.
What an advance.  In 3 years 100 percent of the primary school teachers
will be certified.  And do you know how many primary school teachers we
have now?  Eighty-one thousand.  I do not even remember how many we had
before the revolution, but perhaps someone around here knows.  However, I
do not believe they reached 20,000.  [Someone tells Castro the correct
figure] Twenty-two thousand at all levels.  Well, at all levels we have
184,000 at this time.  [applause] And, I repeat, by 1980 all primary school
teachers will be certified.

Do you think we are going to remain there?  No.  That is why I saying that
we are just beginning.  A plan is already under way in response to the
primary school teachers' aspiration to have the opportunity to take higher
educational studies.  This was given much emphasis at the education and
culture congress and as yet there has been no reply.  But the reply is here
now for the primary school teacher who wants to take higher educational
studies.  It is a program that will begin to be implemented with the
current teachers who have a minimum of 3 years of service and have a
certificate as primary school teacher.  The opportunity will be to
systematically study to get a degree in primary school education.
Therefore, our teachers will be able to seek that degree.  This is
something very important.

Naturally, today many teachers, in the face of the need for
secondary-school teachers, were given the opportunity to study at a
teacher-training institute although it is not a logical thing because two
different teachings are involved, two different ages, each of which
requires its specialist [sentence as heard].  So far this opportunity has
been given to primary school teachers because sometimes there is a tendency
to underestimate the role of a primary school teacher and that this
knowledge does not have to be at the university level.  However, if one
analyzed the importance of the children at that age and of the teacher to
the children, the importance of education at the stage in their lives, one
would realize that a primary school teacher must be a specialist of the
highest possible level.  And a primary school teacher should have a goal,
an aspiration, that high goal of getting a primary school education degree
and to teach first grade, yes, first grade, where the treatment of children
has such an enormous importance, and to specialize as a primary school

At first, you can see this, one did not have to be a secondary school
graduate to enter a school for primary teachers.  Such students entered
from the sixth grade.  Now we are a little more rich in graduates, we
already have more graduates from the sixth grade and basic secondary
schools, and we are going to have them from pre-university schools.

You must reckon that we are rationing them.  For this reason we discuss how
many.  First it was 90,000 and by now it is already around 110,000.  We
have been analyzing the advantage that there are some more admissions
available in certain university faculties.  We need more baccalaurate
graduates.  Of course, all this must be based on the students' school
records, and can only be based on their school records.  All this has
promoted a greater concern about their studies among students of primary
and secondary schools; they know that the options to study one thing or
another must be won with their study and their behavior.  This helps

Now those who enter the schools for primary education teachers are from the
basic secondary level and they study 4 years.  We are going to do the same
with the detachment.  We are now doing the same with the detachment.  We
are trying to have 6,000 from the pre-universities level enter the
detachment.  They are going to have a different life already.  The first 2
years they will study basic courses, theory courses, not practice teaching.
I do not know how the Education Ministry will use them, whether it will
give them a uniform.  Anyway, it is a shame that such an encouragement
image as the detachment comrades in each one of the schools might disappear
in the future.  However, if we replace them with very good teachers, if we
replace them with very good teachers, then it does not matter if they dress
as you are dressed in the graduation ceremony.  [applause]

Now, the ministry is rich in higher education institutes, in students, in
the dozens or hundreds of thousands of people studying.  The ministry is
rich.  Furthermore, it more or less continues to debate with the government
and party how many enter [Fidel laughs, as does audience] the
pre-university institutes every year.  Of course we cannot run the risk of
training too many baccalaurates to the detriment of the other careers, of
the technoligic institutes.  We must train our youths in a balanced manner
and in different fields.  Anyway, we are planning to increase the number of
admissions in the pre-universities, which I repeat will preferably be rural
boarding pre-university institutes.  If the students cannot go during their
secondary school years, then they will go during their pre-university
years.  But I repeat, the day will come when all will go to secondary
rural boarding schools, all.  Then the schools--quite good ones--which we
are building in the cities as secondary schools can be used as primary
schools, which we really need.  [applause] We really need...[applause]
Those schools we are building in the rural areas [Fidel means cities] will
not be in excess, for sure.  You have to see how primary schools are in
many places; they are very poor ones.  For this reason now if we cannot
improve the primary schools we will improve the primary school teachers and
we will improve the textbooks and we will implement the plan to improve the
educational system.  Our primary schools can improve much in quality, very

We have not forgotten you.  There is a plan for you.  [laughter] It is
easy.  The hardest part has already passed.  [laughter] There is a plan
concerning an opportunity to complete higher studies.  It is a plan which
the ministry is making so that you can have your degree in 2 years, because
now you are secondary school teachers, and life has another degree for you,
and maybe graduation.  [prolonged applause] With only 2 more years you
could have the degree of licentiate in education.  [laughter]

The purpose of this long account I made is to stress the great importance
of this graduation.  How could we have resolved the difficult problems we
faced with schools, materials, sites, the whole tragedy of it, without the
teachers.  This was no longer a matter of cement, bricks, wood, equipment,
foreign exchange, and so on.  This was a problem of people.  How to resolve
the problem of teachers.  Following traditional methods, it would have
taken us 30 years, 30 at least until we could have all the teachers we
needed.  I would say that we have made 25 years of progress with the
teachers training detachment.  [prolonged applause]

I was telling you that this year we are going to have 840,000; in 1980 it
is said we are going to have 1.3 million in the secondary schools.  When!
[laughter] 1.3 million, how could we have solved this problem without the
detachment.  [prolonged applause] And how could we have been able to have a
detachment without revolutionary youth.  [prolonged applause]

In the past, I said that we already had technicians prepared to go
anywhere, since the youths had demonstrated this already in 1961 when
100,000 were mobilized for the literacy campaign.  Now, when the revolution
called, the youths also presented themselves in numbers sufficient to solve
the problem.  And today we have this detachment of almost 20,000 youths.  I
warn you that we know well that many of the best students in the 10th grade
went to the detachment.  We know this well, it was the youth who was a
student leader [laughter], a youth leader or so on who was always preaching
that one had to enter the detachment.  [prolonged applause]

Many cadres of youth and student organizations entered the detachment.
Many good students, many vanguard students.  There is always the student
who wants to be the first, and is determined to.  No, it isn't that he
wants to.  No one wants to be first, but he is determined to be first when
it is necessary to be the first.  [applause] Many vanguard students entered
the detachment.  I told Comrade Fernandez [education minister]:  Fernandez,
you are taking the best among the students.  [laughter]

Well, it reached the point where even I protested over how many they wanted
for the detachment.  I said:  8,000 and who are you going to leave to study
something else?  The number increased and increased among the 10th grade
students.  There was a time when they were few; we still remembered when
there were too few.  Now we think there are too many who already graduate
here and there.  At a given time, up to 8,000 youths entered the
detachment.  When I said that I protested that was only a joke.  [laughter]
I said it as a joke to Comrade Fernandez.  [laughter]

This is how the detachment was created and this is how it contributed to
solving a very difficult problem, also demonstrating once again that among
the people and the masses, there are always solutions to problems.

And here once again is proven the enormous importance of the level of
political and revolutionary conscience of the masses.  We can never state
this enough because everything which is done in the sense will be too
little.  Today, our people reflect this conscience in everything they do:
they reflect it in the internationalist soldier; they reflect it in the
internationalist technicians and professionals; they reflect it in the
youths, in work, in their work centers, in their efforts, in any
mobilization undertaking.  You see how even among those students who study
and work, many went 3 weeks to weed the sugarcane fields in the interior of
the country and the provinces.  [applause] These students who even if they
are not in the work-study system, work during a period of the year as part
of the rural boarding schools plan.

Now in the summer, when the sun in hotter, they clean the canefields,
mobilizing by the masses in homage to the festival and to help the country.
There are many examples of those who reflect the value of the political
conscience, of policitical education and of the revolutionary conscience.
When these exist, there is a reply to everything, there is a solution to

You, who are graduating here, are for us the pioneers of this detachment,
the first, the ones who began the experiment, those who demonstrated that
the solution was correct, for in these 3 years, truthfully, I have not
heard anyone complain of the quality of the detachment's comrades.
[prolonged applause] As a group, as a collective, you have acquired great
prestige.  To tell the truth the basic secondary rural boarding schools
have had a very good percentage of students graduating from one grade to
the other during the past few years.  When a school, when in a school the
collective of teachers did not have a student from the detachment, the
teachers always regretted it very much because the students of the
detachment were the solution to the problem, guided by good teachers,
unselfish teachers who by making great sacrifices agreed to work in the
basic secondary rural boarding schools.  However, without you, without your
youth, without your preparedness to go to the necessary schools, we could
never have had the teachers for these schools.  We could never have built
those basic secondary rural boarding schools and have implemented this
system of work and study which is so revolutionary, we could not have
developed, apart from this, the plans of Jaguey, of the Isle of Pines, of
Ciego de Avila, of Pinar del Rio, of the whole country.  This would not
have been possible.

You have made it possible, first, for the revolution to fulfill the
principle that every youth will have the opportunity to continue studying
beyond the sixth grade, that no child in our mountains or our rural areas
will remain without a secondary school.  You have contributed to the
implementation of the work-study system in these schools.  And at the same
time, you have gained many experiences which have helped the rest of the
detachment, the whole detachment, which will be very useful in the future
years.  You have enabled these very revolutionary methods of education to
be successful.  For this reason all of us feel truly satisfied and happy to
be able to attend this first graduation.  We say this with much feeling.

You have many responsibilities ahead of you, you are extraordinarily young
and you will have gained much experience and knowledge by the time you are
over the age of 25.

I can assert that no country has such a numerous group of youths with your
spirit and enthusiasm and with the preparation you are acquiring and can
acquire from now on.  It is not just because of the 2 years [presumably of
university education], but also because of that process of continuous
improvement throughout life which should be a law for each teacher and

I am certain that nothing will give you more personal satisfaction or
respect for your compatriots than the capability you are able to achieve,
the knowledge you are able to accumulate and the improvement you can make
throughout the many years of life you still have ahead.

This type of satisfaction is not gained from any material well-being, and
you can see the result of your efforts.  It has been 5 years.  It seems
like yesterday, since the detachment was created and you are the first
graduates who now will go on to work in schools as respectable teachers of
higher [as heard] education.  [prolonged applause] What satisfaction and
pride this represents for your relatives, your neighbors, your comrades and
your students.  You will feel much emotion when you return to the
classroom as teachers.  You will be the first to do so from this formidable
revolutionary force.

Although I do not know about the uniforms or whether or not the detachment
that will go to the predagogic [institute] will have uniforms [laughter] or
what it will be like during those 6 months, but the detachment will
continue and the others, those who are now going to the superior institute
as pre-university students, will continue to be part of the Manuel Ascunce
Domenech detachment.  But do not be concerned, you are more advanced than
they are.  [laughter] You have 5 years of experience and 5 years of
studies.  They have before them 3 years of pre-university studies.  Now, in
2 years when they will be reaching the third year you will have nothing
less than a degree in education.  [laughter, applause]

Do not be discouraged by anything, you are ahead, the entire detachment,
all the first five contingents of the detachment.  Well, the one on its
first year is tied because I think it has 4 and then 2 and the others have
5.  At least you are ahead [words indistinct due to applause].  All of you
will have an advantage:  5 years of experience.  The ones who now join the
detachment for the first time will come out with a pre-university
education, but they will not teach classes for 2 years, and I was asking
Fernandez:  Are you sure you are not going to have to also resort to those
boys before the 2 years are up?  I do not know.  Of course, they are
counting on you and it is counting on the primary school teachers who are
studying at the pedagogic institute.

And counting them all, the total is more than 30,000, but I do not know if
it is enough.  This shows that the problem has been essentially resolved.

I asked Fernandez:  Fernandez, what is it that interests you most about
these comrades who are graduating?  [laughter] and, as if he were reading
my mind, he took out a small piece of paper and said:  this.  And I brought
it with me.  [laughter] It contains six points.  They are quite brief, you
know, but you know what they mean.

Number one:  He is interested in your work as teachers, your systematic
daily preparation, fulfillment of study plans and progress, problems of
student organization, example, punctuality, order, continuous educational
work, that you be demanding on all directives and standards.

Number two:  Social and personal property and the need for its good use and
care and prevention of its loss or theft.

Number three:  Fraud problems and an attitude of anathematizing in all our
work--it says here anathemizing and I say anathematizing--[laughter] that
distorting dishonesty, [applause] education and vigilant attitude of all

Number four:  Problem of promotion, its quality and requirements.

Number five:  Standards of conduct, the so-called formal education,
behavior, respect, consideration and correct attitude toward all others.

Number six:  Communist development, ideological development and political
development of youths and the duty of a teacher and the entire group of

These are the six points.  All of us can subscribe to these six points.
And we believe that you sincerely subscribe to them.  [applause]

To tell you the truth, we have much confidence in you.  We know you have
responded and acted, unfortunately, not all reached the goal.  One thousand
four hundred two started and 900 and graduating today.  Actually, it is a
high number, [of graduates] and quality is always expressed in percentages.
This demonstrates your tenacity, your will and your perseverance.  You were
able to keep up and persevere.  You were able to overcome all the
difficulties.  That is why I believe that this 20 July is to be a truly
happy and emotional day for all of you.

We have heard your serious profound oath, if you want, I could add to it
the six points so that you can endorse them.  Is that all right, Fernandez?
You can use a little clip to attach them to it so that you can endorse
them, is that all right, Fernandez?  You can attach them to it with a
little clip.  [laughter]

We no longer treat you as students, we already treat you as almost
professors.  [laughter] Those up there [presumably on the balcony] and
those in back, all of you, as respectable professors.  [laughter, applause]

It only remains for me to say that we have practically seen you grow.  You
are almost as old as the revolution, younger than the Moncada and more or
less the age of the Graham.  You who took the oath as teachers, like those
who a few days ago at Revolution Plaza took the oath as officers in our
armed forces, are sons of the revolution [prolonged applause] and the
revolution is proud of its sons.  Fatherland or death, we shall win.
[prolonged applause]