Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana GRANMA in Spanish 30 Jan 78 p 2

[Text] Fidel told the students, instructors and workers at the Friedrich
Engels" Vocational School, which was opened in Pinar del Rio on Friday:
"Everything that we have seen here today arouses confidence, arouses hope,
arouses optimism."

With Fidel's remarks, the school's beautiful auditorium was converted into
a huge, impressive classroom, which resounded to teaching based upon truth,
exigency and confidence in the communist training of our youth.

In his analysis, Fidel discussed an essential group of problems relating to
educational work in these vocational schools and in the country's teaching
institutions as a whole.

Promoting the Schools for Nurses and Intermediate-Level Public Health

He said: "As you know, every year, since it is impossible to dedicate all
the schools that have been built, one is always taken as a symbol and, at
the beginning of the term, there is a ceremony whereby the term begins and
a project is dedicated; and this is a symbol for all the other projects
that have been completed to go into operation at the same time."

Fidel added: "Next term, a dedication ceremony may possibly be held at a
school of a different type: a school for intermediate-level public health
technicians, so that no one will be overlooked."

The commander-in-chief noted that, although considerable attention has been
paid to education, there are certain areas which have lagged slightly, such
as those including schools for nurses and intermediate-level public health
technicians.  "And that is not the only drawback; for the vocation for this
kind of work which is so essential to our country has even been
disappearing; because we have been reaching the point where everyone wanted
to be a doctor, and no one wanted to be an intermediate-level public health
technician or a nurse."

Fidel then explained how the revolution had created opportunities for
intermediate level technicians to advance and take university courses, but
that it was necessary to meet the needs of the society, and to create an
awareness about them.

He gave as an example the solution applied to the demand for instructors
and teachers, whereby the battle was won and an awareness was created.  He
said that, at the present time, there are over 30,000 young people studying
to be teachers, and more than 20,000 members of the "Manuel Ascunce
Domenech" Pedagogical Detachment are being trained as instructors.

Fidel declared: "It is impossible for a society as humane, as just and as
united as a socialist society to be incapable of producing vocations and an
awareness of the need for sufficient intermediate-level public health
technicians, and sufficient male and female nurses, who are precisely the
essential elements needed to care for the sick, for children, the aged and
young people: everyone.  And they must be individuals with a special
sensitivity because, of course, anyone without a special sensitivity cannot
be a male or female nurse."

What We Are Mainly Concerned About Is Your Modesty

The party's first secretary subsequently remarked: "In the area of
vocational schools, we have been successful in one respect: in the respect
that everyone wants to attend a vocational school.  Even the parents are
interested in having their children earn the necessary grades for admission
to a vocational school."

Then Fidel explained how the notion of these schools had come about,
fostered in part by the first amateur clubs that were organized in the
elementary schools.  The idea was to make a selection of the best pupils,
based upon their records and behavior, and to send them to a type of school
which had laboratory facilities and which could fully develop their
interest in scientific subjects.

He added: "We were concerned with selecting those with the strongest
characters, the young people who applied themselves most to their studies,
and with creating special facilities for their subsequent development,
providing the country with a large contingent of young people basically
suited for careers in science, although not limited to them exclusively, of

Fidel said: "But there was something, there was still something about the
idea that was slightly provoking; because people talked about gifted
students or particularly gifted students, and some even called them
super-gifted.  That gave, or could have given the impression, or could have
caused the danger of creating a certain kind of boastful attitude, creating
a certain elite, or creating a mentality among one group which might
consider itself superior to the others."

The commander-in-chief went on to analyze how the human being is born with
certain characteristics and aptitudes, but that no one could consider it a
personal merit to have been born with more ability for something or a
better memory; because he did not produce that, but rather received it when
he came into the world.  He said that what a human being can, indeed, be
rightfully proud of is his ability to create and invent on his own.

"An individual can make a great deal of himself as a result of his own
physical and spiritual effort.  And anyone who sets out to cultivate
virtues will cultivate them; anyone who sets out to attain more lofty
ethics, will attain them; anyone who sets out to be a better student can
become a better student; anyone who sets out to acquire the highest levels
of knowledge will acquire them.

"I assume that, on the whole, you are intelligent young people but, as the
one partially responsible for this idea of vocational schools I must tell
you that what concerns us about you is not the intellect with which you
were born; what concerns us about you are the merits that you can really
achieve.  What concerns us about you are your moral and spiritual virtues;
what concerns us about you is your character; what concerns us about you is
your conscience; what concerns us about you is what you can create by
yourselves; and what we are mainly concerned about, in your regard, is your

There Will Not Be One or Two Geniuses, Because There Will Be A Genius

Fidel continued: "I do not think that, in the world of the future, or in
the fatherland of the future, there will be any room for great celebrities;
because the great celebrities (or so-called geniuses) belong essentially to
an era wherein an insignificant minority of the population could attend
school or become cultured, and when the masses were ignorant.  But in
tomorrow's world there will not be one, two or ten people who can become
cultured; for tomorrow's world will be a society in which millions can
become cultured, in which millions can attend school.  Then there will be
millions of developed and cultivated intellects, and one individual who has
had a great deal of education or who knows a great deal will not seem to be
the wise man of the people, because all the people will be wise men.  There
will not be one or two geniuses, because there will be a genius people.
Those alleged super-gifted individuals will not exist, because there will
be a super-gifted people."

Fidel indicated how we have seen this reality spread in our midst, citing
the content that has now been achieved in the elementary school curriculum,
and noting that our country is now unquestionably the one with the most
literate people in all of Latin America.  He also pointed out that our
people's culture is constantly being enhanced by magazines, television,
films and other mass communications media.

He observed: "I have mentioned this because it is precisely our desire that
it may never be said that a student in a vocational school is immodest,
that it may never be said that a student in these schools is boastful,
presumptuous or conceited, someone who considers himself superior to others
simply because he was selected to attend a vocational school."

The commander-in-chief stressed the fact that, "When an individual
distinguishes himself, his first obligation is not to humiliate someone who
is unable to distinguish himself, for whatever reason; but rather to feel
an empathy with him, and feel equal to him, without humiliating him with
pretensions to superiority.

"And, so as not to succumb to this kind of thinking, one must be cautious
about everything, and sometimes about everybody.  Sometimes one must be
cautious with one's grandmother, aunt or even parents; because, at times,
unfortunately, parents (who were born in a different time and who are
products of a different society) are susceptible to that kind of vanity,
and are liable to think that their child is intelligent, super-intelligent,
or more intelligent than anyone else; or they might have this idea about a
nephew or grandson."

Sometimes People Are Too Indulgent With Their Children

The commander-in-chief went on to explain that education needs a great deal
of influence from parents, but that although on many occasions this may
prove to be a good thing, it can also be bad at times.  He said that
sometimes people are too indulgent with their children, and tolerate
anything, any fault; that, just as there are parents who, if their child
comes home with a towel or anything belonging to someone else, make him
return it, criticize him sternly and instruct him to apologize, there are
also others who still lack that kind of conscience and culture; and so we
sometimes have cases of theft in the schools."

Fidel said: "Why?  How can one imagine such meanness (that is what it is,
meanness!) in a youth who has virtually everything and who commits the
treason (and I cannot call it anything but treason) of stealing something
from a comrade: a watch, a pencil-case or anything ?  And how can one
imagine, how can one accept the fact that any family would allow a child to
come home with anything stolen ?

"Another way in which the family can sometimes have a negative influence is
when, in one way or another, somehow or other, because they traveled abroad
or because some comrade brought them a gift, they immediately adorn the
child with the little item from abroad.  So, if someone brings you a gift,
leave it at home, leave it at home!  If you receive something, at least
leave it at home, and do not allow young people to arrive at school with
that kind of superspecial gift which the others do not or cannot have.

Fidel continued: "It seems to us that these are ideas, concepts and
realities to which we must be very alert, because such things tend to
create a little vanity; they tend to create a slight superiority, or a
false sense of superiority.  They tend to undermine character, and are
negative influences.  We usually do not discuss such things, but they must
be discussed, because all these things can have a negative influence on the

We Have a Right to Demand More of You

The party's first secretary continued: "We have a right to demand more
discipline, more dedication to study and more spirit for work from you than
from the other schools, to put it simply."

He told the students that, if they acquired an awareness of these problems
and set out to do so, this would be the best means of avoiding the dangers
that he had cited.

"I cannot conceive of a student in a vocational school who is lazy.  I
cannot conceive of it!  I cannot conceive of a student in a vocational
school who does not study, who does not pay attention in class, or who
leaves his studies until the last minute.  I cannot conceive of it!  I
cannot conceive of a student in a vocational school who is disloyal to his
comrades, who is capable of committing any of the offenses that we have
mentioned, humiliating or mistreating a comrade, or taking something from a
comrade.  I cannot conceive of a lazy student in a vocational school, one
who, when it is time to work, lies down under a citrus tree or whatever it
may be.  Furthermore: I cannot conceive of a student in a vocational school
who, when he has finished his six trees, and because he has finished them,
leaves another tree nearby covered with weeds because he claims that he has
done his trees."

Fidel concluded by saying: "In a word, we conceive of the vocational school
student as being a complete student in all senses."

He said that, of course, this must be required of all students, but more so
of the vocational school students; adding: "And you must demand of
yourselves as much as we can demand of you."

Fidel noted: "I cannot conceive of a student in a vocational school
cheating in an examination.

Intransigent Battle Against Cheating

With regard to the problem of cheating in examinations, Fidel said that it
was unthinkable for us, who have seen so much heroism and sacrifice in our
youth, the combative youth, the youth in the literacy movement, and the
internationalist youth, that such a vice could develop among them.

He was emphatic in stating: "We can never allow such a thing, such habits
such distortions or such weakness to develop among our youth and our

"We must unquestionably be very alert; our student organizations, our
political organizations and our Communist Youth organizations must be very
alert to any deviation of that kind.  Yes, because therein lies the role of
the Communist Youth, and therein lies the duty of anyone who regards
himself as a communist youth: to be an example in all senses; to be, on
principle, an intransigent foe of any deviation of that kind.  That is the
task, that is also the major function of the student organizations: to
battle intransigently against such problems."

Not to Neglect the Areas of Good Manners and Breeding

Fidel then cited the importance of not neglecting the areas of good manners
and breeding, such as wearing the uniform properly, respecting the
comrades, instructors and administrators of the school, knowing how to dine
and how to express oneself correctly.  He added that there was a certain
inclination among young people to use the most vulgar words encountered on
the street.  He concluded by saying that none of these negative kinds of
conduct can be accepted, "because where there are no good manners and
breeding, there can be no discipline."

He likewise emphasized the fact that the democracy and equality of
socialism can by no means imply the slightest lack of respect for a

He commented: "This also means that the teacher, too, must be strict, must
devote himself to the task of educating, and must accord the student kind
and respectful treatment.  But the authority of the teacher in the school
is unquestionably essential, just as the authority of the director and the
deputy directors of the school is essential.  We cannot afford to overlook
any of these matters."

Fidel instructed the heads of the UJC [Union of Young Communists] and the
FEEM [Federation of Intermediate-Level Students] to paid greater heed to
these issues.

Even Though a School May Be Large, It Can Be Run Correctly and Operate Well

The commander-in-chief later discussed the problem of size and complexity
in these schools, which requires great effort and complete dedication to
work on the part of their directors.  He gave examples of how a director
must be up to date on all aspects of the school; adding that, as a result,
both the party, the Ministry of Education, the People's Government, the
mass organizations, the union, the UJC and the student organizations must
pay the utmost heed to these schools.

In this connection, Fidel underscored the attention that the party in Pinar
del Rio Province, and comrade Julio Camacho in particular, have paid to the
schools, and to the vocational school in particular.

He cited the example of the Las Tunas Pedagogical School which he recently
visited, a large school which operates amazingly well, with a splendid
director and a splendid staff of teachers..  He remarked; "This means that,
even though a school may be large, even though a school may be large, it
can be run correctly and operate well."

Discipline Must Be Increased

Fidel subsequently stated: "It is my opinion that, in these schools, and in
all the schools in the country as a whole, discipline must be increased.
Discipline must be increased, and we must probe into the mechanisms and
devices required to increase discipline.  We must probe into what should be
done about certain shortcomings, when warnings have been given once and a
second time; what should be done about those who make too many mistakes and
do not correct them; what type of punishment could be imposed on the
student who has already begun to be recalcitrant; and what intermediate
penalties could be imposed for the express purpose of avoiding the
necessity of adopting the extreme measure of expelling the youth from
school some day."

He went on to say: "We shall have to glean the experience of the most
outstanding school directors, so as to determine which measures have proven
most successful, and have brought the best results in developing strong
discipline among the students."

Fidel explained that, at the present time, different criteria are being
applied in the various schools; and that very definite, reasonable and
appropriate criteria must be devised in dealing with these problems, and
must be applied generally throughout the entire country.

Reason and Meditate on These Problems

The party's first secretary told the students that he had decided to take
this occasion to discuss certain unpleasant things with them, not because
these problems related to them specifically, but because he believed that
the masses should be apprised of these matters, and should be prompted to
reason and meditate on them, and to support the revolution in the battle
against these problems.

He stressed the fact that Pinar del Rio already had schools for teachers,
and instructors, for physical education, for intermediate-level public
health technicians, for "Camilitos" [students of the Camilo Cienfuegos
Military Schools], and for child day care center teachers (one which was
also dedicated at Friday's ceremony); and now the vocational school.  He
said that the only thing lacking at present is a sports initiation school
and an art school.  He also remarked that, in the near future, the
province would have its own pedagogical school and medical school.

He emphasized the need for accelerating the construction of the hospital,
which is a little behind schedule.

With regard to the features of the project being dedicated, he said: "The
school's architecture is impressive.  The project is truly magnificent.
Experience was gained from the other schools which had been built; they
made this one more concentrated, with everything better distributed.  The
bust of Engels is magnificent; it lends great vitality to the school.  The
school is. well finished, with its grassy areas and surroundings.  When a
school is dedicated, it is very seldom as complete as this one.  I have not
seen an auditorium like this anywhere else around here.  The polyclinic is
finished.  In other words, there is practically nothing missing."

He continued: "Now, the group of its students, your behavior and your
presence are impressive.  The ceremony was really excellent and beautiful.
Everything that we have seen here today arouses confidence, arouses hope,
arouses optimism."

Fidel also noted the careful selection that was made of the school's
director, commenting that this was a guarantee of the concern on the part
of the comrades administering the province, particularly Comrade Camacho,
for the school.

We Need You to Be an Example, We Need You to Be a Model

Fidel went on to say: "When we see a project of this kind, and a group such
as you, when we see what the revolution has done for the people, and for
the children of our workers and our peasants; when we realize, for example,
that we are on the eve of the 125th anniversary of Marti's birth, and when
we recall everything that Marti wrote about education, and everything that
Marti dreamed about the school of the future; when we have put the
principles of Marx and Marti concerning study and work into practice; when
we bear all this in mind and see the school converted into a reality, and
see the idea converted into a reality, this is unquestionably a source of
satisfaction for all of us.  And if that is the case, why did I tell you
the things that I told you?  Precisely because we have great hopes for you,
great hopes!  Because I think that we must establish a very keen emulation
among the vocational schools; and because we need you students of this
vocational school to help us in our task, to help us in our effort, to help
us in our struggle to make these schools what they should be.  Because we
need you to be an example, we need you to be a model; we need the party in
the province, the heads of the People's Government in the province, and all
the individuals who are connected with education in the province to help us
in this struggle: first, so that the vocational schools may (I repeat) be
what they should be; and second, so that all our schools may be what they
should be."

"And Fidel concluded by saying:

"We shall depart from here with the hope that you will become an example in
all senses and all respects, bearing carefully in mind the matters that I
brought up previously.  But I do not wish to leave merely with a hope; I
want to leave with your promise.

"I was greatly pleased by what you said at the beginning, about being a
Marxist-Leninist forge, a Marti forge, shaping future communists.  And when
I heard that, I told myself the same thing: that is what we want of our
schools.  Those are the products that we want from these schools:
generations of true communists!

"Fatherland or death; we shall conquer!"