Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 2219 GMT 4 Sep 78 FL and PA

[Speech by Cuban Commander in Chief Fidel Castro marking the beginning of
the 1978-79 school year and dedicating the "Octavio de 1a Concepcion y de
1a Pedraja" Polytechnical Health Institute in Camaguey--live]

[Text] Dear Comrades.  Annually, the beginning of the school year is a very
important event for all families and all the people.  The custom has been
established to inaugurate the school year at a new educational project, in
representation of all the schools which are being opened today.  We have
140 new installations at the beginning of this new school year out of the
planned 151.  I understand that some have not been completed but will be
completed over the next few weeks.  A great effort like this one has been
taking place over the last few years.

Since 1970, more than 1,000 new school installations have been built in
this way, between 1,200 and 1,300 new installations.  In this way it has
been possible, and in a very brief time, to respond to the growing demand
over the years for school installations.  There are still some difficult
tasks left in this field, but hundreds and thousands of installations have
been built.  And these are not just simple installations.  We can call them
large school installations.

The number of our midlevel students has been growing, and because of this,
this year already has the special distinction in that we begin the school
course with more than 1 million midlevel pupils.  More than 1 million.  We
begin this school year with around 1,040,000 pupils at this level.  There
are many statistics on this, but I do not want to overwhelm you with
statistics.  Many of them have already appeared in the papers, on
television, through various forms of dissemination.  Because of this we
will limit ourselves to mentioning a few cases and a few figures.

In 1970, we had 238,000 midlevel students. Before the revolution, there
were 88,000. After 11 years we have reached the figure of 238,000. At the
beginning, the midlevel figure did not grow rapidly because it was
necessary to begin with the literacy campaign and continue with the
elementary level. Therefore, during the first years, the larger figures
were basically in the elementary schools.

Over the last few years, all previous efforts have begun bearing fruit, and
midlevel entrance figures have been growing.  And because of this, over the
past 8 years, the midlevel has grown so much that it has reached the figure
of 1,043,000.  We believe that this is an event that is truly historic--the
fact that this school year we have already reached the figure of over 1
million pupils at the midlevel.  Naturally, at the midlevel the highest
percentage are the junior high school pupils.  But in the years to come,
the number of students in the technological, polytechnical, and
preuniversity schools will be growing.

Suffice it to mention, for example, the number graduating from the ninth
grade.  I do not remember... [Castro turns to an unidentified official on
the dais and asks] how many do we have at the ninth grade level?  One
hundred...[the unidentified official says] one hundred and sixteen...
[Castro then continues] from the ninth grade.  This year 116,000 have
graduated from the ninth grade.  It will keep growing, and over the next 2
years we will reach the figure of 200,000 graduating from the ninth grade.
I do not know how many graduated from the sixth grade.  I am not very sure,
but I believe that before the revolution there were not even 30,000
graduating from the sixth grade.  This year there have been 282,000
graduates of the sixth grade.  These are truly very impressive figures.

The total number of students in the country is almost 40 percent of the
population, that is, almost 40 percent of the population in the country is
studying systematically.  There are around, I believe I have these figures
here, there are around 3,700,000 people studying in Cuba.  I believe that
there are few countries in the world that have so high a percentage of its
population studying.

On the other hand, the number of elementary level students is beginning to
drop.  It is not that we are badly off, but rather that we are better off.
There have been many students going on to the midlevel and, on the other
hand, over the last few years the birth rate has also been dropping--which
is good.  At one time we had 1,992,000 children at the preschool and
elementary level.  This year we have 1,700,000.  And if you want to know
how many we will have in 1985, the projection is for 1,270,000 for 1985.
These statistics are very important.  I will speak about this later.

As you have been able to see over the last couple of years, there have been
many school centers built in Camaguey.

However, to give you an idea of how education has been developed in our
country, it is enough to point out the following: for example, in the last
school year in Camaguey and Ciego de Avila we had 35 technological schools
with a registration of 15,196.  This was in the two provinces.  This number
of students studying in technological schools is approximately the same as
the total number of students in technological schools in the entire country
before the revolution.

Now then, how many youngsters do we have in Camaguey and Ciego studying to
become teachers?  In 1958, there were in the two provinces... [Castro
corrects himself] no, in the entire country 9,023 youths were studying to
become teachers.  And in the two provinces during the last school year,
only in these two provinces there were 12,863, or almost 4,000 more than
these were in the past in the entire country.  Are you beginning to under

So far as teachers and instructors graduated this year are concerned, I
recently spoke of this twice, when the second contingent of the teacher
training detachment graduated, and on 26 July in Santiago de Cuba when I
gave an incorrect figure. I made a slight mistake, not in excess but less.
I said that 18,000 had graduated as instructors and teachers, some of them
through teacher training schools--in other words, students, and others from
teaching staffs who continued their education. I said that 18,000 had
graduated.  Actually, we have reviewed the figure very carefully and the
number who graduated or received their certificates as elementary
schoolteachers or instructors of junior high and preuniversity schools and
other levels was 28,000. In other words, 10,000 more than the figure I
mentioned.  The totals were 8,775 students and 19,313 education workers for
a total of 28,088.  They received their certificates as teachers or
instructors.  This is an impressive figure.

You will recall that 6 or 7 years ago 70 percent of elementary
schoolteachers did not have certificates.  By 1980, 100 percent of
elementary schoolteachers will have certificates.  And this is not all. The
plans are still more ambitious as far as quality is concerned.  Until a few
years ago, a sixth grade education was required for entry into elementary
teachers training schools.  Since sometime ago, the ninth grade has been
required for entry into the elementary teachers training schools. Moreover,
a 10th grade education was required for entry into the teacher training
detachment.  A high school certificate is now required for entry into the
teacher training detachment.  A large number, we could say 100 percent of
the graduates from the teacher training detachment, have registered in the
universities to study 2 more years and obtain the degree equivalent to, I
think it is called, licentiate in education.  That is the degree they will

To continue raising the quality of education, we are thinking of an
improvement plan for elementary schoolteachers who already have their
certificates and have entered the teacher training schools with a sixth
grade education.  The objective is to give them a training equivalent to
that of those who presently enter with a ninth grade education with a
4-year study plan.  Many teachers already have begun to take a preparatory
course for a licentiate in elementary school-level education.  In other
words, thousands and thousands of teachers are taking the preparatory
course to enter the university and obtain the licentiate in elementary
school-level education.

In the same way, it is believed that all teachers at midlevel education
should have a complete university education, which has been called higher
teaching education.  In this way, a number of these teachers will have the
opportunity to obtain scientific degrees later.  You can see how much we
have advanced since the illiteracy or literacy campaign to date, from those
days when we had no teachers and hundreds of thousands of children, new
students, entered elementary schools, and we had to find high school
students and persons of a certain level [of education] through the mass
organizations so that they could become teachers.  And we had to give them
a brief course so they might improvise as teachers. And [compare that] to
this current status in which we are approaching the time in which 100 per
cent of elementary schoolteachers will be certified, and to this situation
in which we graduated 28,000 teachers and instructors in a single school
year, and to this situation where we already have thousands and thousands
of teachers studying and preparing themselves to obtain the licentiate at
the university.

This means that the quality of our teaching personnel is improving every
year.  And in the future, when there is talk of education, the figures will
tell us nothing because, as is happening in elementary schools, the number
of students is beginning to drop, and the number of students in high
schools, in other words, at the middle level, will continue to grow in
future years.  However, the time will come when this will reach its limit,
and the time will come when practically all youths between elementary
school and middle level school ages will be studying, and the most
important thing for us already has begun to be, for some years, now, the
quality of education.

However, the quality of education will depend primarily on the preparation
of teaching personnel.

So far as schools are concerned, they are growing every year and will
continue to grow. Now, let us look at the advangtages.  In the beginning,
we had almost 2 million students in elementary schools and did not have
teachers, did not have instructors.  It was necessary to improvise
teachers.  In the future, we will have increasingly more graduate teachers
and less elementary school pupils.

At the same time, new elementary schools are being built.  Every year we
will have a better material base.  There was a time when it was necessary
to improvise schools in huts.  I remember that in the first years of the
revolution we said that classes should be given even under a tree if
necessary, and that teachers not be lacking.  We no longer give classes
under a tree anywhere.

Now all elementary schools have an adequate material base, but every year
we have more elementary schools, more and better qualified teachers, and
less elementary pupils.  The possibilities for improving quality are many.
The time will come when we will have thousands upon thousands of
licentiates in elementary education teaching in elementary schools.  And
all this goes hand-in-hand with the education system improvement plan that
is being carried out in our country.

Therefore, in matters of education--something that is so fundamental for
our society--we have made extraordinary quantitative progress, and we have
made extraordinary qualitative progress.  And although the quantitative
progress has its limits in the number of pupils, the qualitative
improvement of education is an infinite path.  Moreover, the techniques of
education are undergoing a revolution.  This means that in the future, year
after year and for an indefinite period, the quality of our education
should improve.  The number of certified and well-qualified personnel will
increase, experience will increase, techniques will improve, and our
country will be able to feel proud of its teaching personnel and its

Each year the children and youth of our fatherland will have a better
material base and  a better education.  It seems to me that it is
esdsential t+po highlight this on a day like today.

Elementary and midlevel education are not the only ones improving.  Higher
education also is improving, and it is improving quantitatively and
qualitatively.  In the past, there were only a few universities and a few
students.  As a matter of fact, the universities were closed at the
triumph of the revolution, and in the past they had about 15,000 students
in 24 university fields of study.  Our universities currently, during this
school year, have 145,000 students studying 162 specialties.  And in future
years, the plan for the construction of university installations will
continue to be developed in order to have approximately 300,000 university
students by 1985.  These are the prospects.

There will be universities practically in all provinces, in all 14
provinces, although not all will have all the branches of learning, of
course.  But there will be university schools in all the country's

Everything is progressing well, quite well.  There always are some
difficulties.  There is one I want to highlight, and it is the following:
there is little vocation for the study of the basic sciences.  For example,
among those who enter the teacher training detachment, there are relatively
few who want to study mathematics, physics, and chemistry.  At the
universities, there are few, very few, who want to study these
subjects--mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

There are fields that indeed are very attractive.  Medicine always has
been.  At one time, agronomy was not attractive.  However, today many of
the best students request to study agronomy.  This is already a triumph,
but we have to be concerned with what to do to awaken in the youth an
interest in mathematics, physics, and chemistry.  I repeat, and it will
have to be repeated many times: what can the country do without good
teachers of mathematics, physics, and chemistry?  All countries need them,
and much more a country that is struggling for its development as Cuba is
doing.  It will be necessary to emphasize the idea that a larger number of
youth, especially teachers, should be interested in these subjects, because
they are fundamental in our education plans.  And this is one of the weak
points we have.  I hope the day will come when as much interest will be
awakened for mathematics, physics, and chemistry as there is for agronomy.

Of course, it is very good that so many youths want to study agronomy, but
it is very bad that there are not many youths, especially the ones who are
going to be instructors and teachers, who are not interested in these
subjects.  This is one of the weak points I want to emphasize today.

The question of promotion rates improved during the last school year in
comparison to the previous year.  The province of Santiago de Cuba, and
this should be mentioned, was especially outstanding in promotions at the
various levels of education, particularly the midlevel. [Applause] The
party and people's government organs have a very important task on this
matter, a vet important one.  And, aside from the effort by the Education
Ministry, and aside from the effort by the country in general, there is a
need for efforts in each province and municipality.  There is a need for
attention on the part of the party and people's government organs.  The
people's government organs now are responsible for the administration of
all elementary schools and all middle schools.  And when the party and
people's government organs pay attention to education, the results are

At one time, promotion rates were emphasized.  However, promotion is not
enough.  There is a need for promotion with quality.  There is a need for
promotion with demands by the teachers and instructors.  It is not a case
of holding a good place nationally at the expense of neglecting stiff
examinations.  It is necessary that examinations be stiff.  And, above all,
it is necessary to struggle intransigently and untiringly against cheating.
[Applause] And there are many ways of cheating.  There is open cheating,
and there is subtle cheating.  And there are many ways of subtle cheating,
ranging from giving a very weak and very easy examination, to giving some
indication to the students of which are the most important topics for the

I would say that even more important than promotion rates or the number of
students promoted is the quality of promotion. [Applause] And so far as
cheating is concerned, it is a struggle for everyone--the party, mass
organizations, teachers, and relatives.  There are relatives who still do
not understand that if the child received a good grade by cheating it is a
very bad thing, and that in the future society that child is not going to
deceive anyone, because gaining a grade in an examination by cheating does
not mean that knowledge has been gained.  To the contrary, it has a
tremendously harmful effect on any child or any youngster.  And what can be
expected of a youngster who cheats in an examination or commits a fraud?

All the people must have awareness on the negative aspect of cheating, and
we all must struggle against it.  We are not in a capitalist system.
Cheating was the thing to do under capitalism.  A nation cannot devote so
much energy, so many resources, and so much effort to education with such
noble goals and have our socialist society tolerate academic cheating.  It
must be a struggle involving all the students and, of course, very
especially the Union of Young Communists.  We cannot conceive of a Young
Communist involved in academic cheating.  But we cannot conceive of a
single student, even if not a member of the Young Communists, involved in
academic cheating.  Although not all youths belong to our vanguard
organization, we believe that all youths live in a revolutionary society
and must be revolutionaries. [Applause] We base ourselves on the concept
that all our youths, our young masses, our student masses, are

This implies the collective as well as individual duty to fight cheating.
How can we allow introduction within our youth of the bourgeois concept of
complicity or silence in the face of something badly done.  And, in this
way, when a group of students or some students have the idea that when a
student witnesses cheating and does not keep quiet, and reports it to the
school authorities, that student is betraying his comrades, it should be
precisely the opposite.  The one who witnesses cheating and does not fight
it strongly and revolutionarily is betraying his comrades. [Applause] He is
really betraying his comrades, his school, and the country's education.

He is betraying his principles.  We do not want to develop only
knowledgeable people--aside from the fact that cheaters never will be
knowledgeable--and we do not want to develop false knowledgeable people.
Above all, we want to develop pure and honest men, loyal and honest men,
men of principles.

Last year, strong measures were taken on the cases that were presented.
And cases were discovered, such as the ore involving a worker in the
printshop, where the examinations were reproduced, who had a son studying
in some school and took a copy of the examination.  And there was the case
of a school where everyone passed the examination with the highest grade.
They had previously received a copy of the examination.  How can something
like this happen in a class?  How can something like this happen in a
school?  If there is militancy, if there is vigilance, if the Young
Communists are attentive, how can something like this happen unless old
concepts still prevail in the minds of many persons?  What is this thing
of a worker who has the trust of reproducing an examination and takes a
copy of it?  And this is another of the manifestations in the many
accounts on the ways of cheating.

It is always necessary to continue emphasizing something.  At other times,
we have emphasized the question of good manners and behavior training, and
it must be emphasized always.  This year, we must also emphasize the moral
duty of all students, especially communist students, to struggle
energetically and resolutely against every manifestation of cheating,
because with it our education would not be pure, legitimate and [word
indistinct].  And to tell you the truth, when I emphasize it I do not mean
that there is generalized cheating or anything like that.  To the contrary,
we should explain that cheating is the exception.  It is the exception.
Nevertheless, we must fight hard against such exception that shows that old
ideas still prevail which clash with the moral principles of the revolution
and of good behavior training.  And qualitative development of our
education must go hand-in-hand with the struggle against cheating.  The
students must be the purest and most honest, because they will be the
workers of the future.

They are called upon to develop to the utmost perfection the socialist
society, and resolutely advance on the paths of communism.  And where there
is cheating, there is deceit.  Where there is cheating, there is harm to
the country, harm to the people, harm to the revolution, harm to the

To cite an example, imagine a medical student who cheats, or any of you
students at this polytechnical institute cheating and then have to deal
with the health of the citizens in a hospital.  Of course, it is almost
certain that the one who begins cheating in the first or second year does
not reach the last year.  It is almost certain.  But a doctor who has
cheated in an important subject or any subject, and does not know the
subject, and later has in his hands the life of a child, the life of a
mother, the life of an adult, the life of an old man, that is the time when
he will need to know the subject he failed to study.

And this, which perhaps is understood more clearly when talking of
something as sacred as the health of the people, can be applied to any
other activity.  You can imagine a technician in an important industry who
is not qualified and has acquired his qualification by cheating.  You can
imagine an engineer who gets his degree by cheating, or any other type of
work because everyone has important responsibilities, including the one who
is a train conductor, or drives a bus, or works in a hospital.  Many
activities involve the safety and lives of others.  There is also the
schoolteacher who is involved in something that is so sacred as the
education of the new generations.

This is why the significance on any youth of the consequences of a
fraudulent attitude must be seen in all its dimensions.  And we are certain
that our Young Communists, our education workers, and our students
understand this perfectly well.

We wanted to inaugurate the school year precisely at a school of this type.
Vocational, high school and sports schools have been dedicated other times,
but this year we were quite interested in marking the beginning of the
school year at a school of the health sector, because the importance of
health work and the importance of training doctors and health technicians
must be emphasized.

Great efforts have been made to train teachers, and the efforts have had
their results.  Great efforts have been made in other fields.

However, to tell you the truth, although during these years of the
revolution great efforts have been made to develop health technicians,
perhaps there has not been enough dissemination and enough work on the idea
of instilling in our youth the enormous importance of this type of work.
The work of doctors is understood much better.  A medical career has many
attractions for the youth.  But, what was happening?  There was interest in
the doctors' [profession], but how about the work of nurses, and the work
of health technicians?

What was happening was that our youth did not have the slightest interest
in studying to be nurses and health technicians as there was in other types
of work.  A sports training school opens and it is immediately filled.  But
we are much more interested that the nursing schools and health technicians
schools be filled.  And not only that, there is something else that is more
important.  That they be filled with youth of the best quality. [Applause]

We are very much interested in the quality of the youth who enter these
health schools.  We are interested in the quality of those who go to
medical schools.  And we are very much interested in the quality of those
who go to nursing and health technician schools.  And we would prefer that
those who want to enter would be many more than the ones who can be
admitted so that we can select the ones with the best records for those
types of work.

If you were to ask any citizen what he would like to see moving along
perfectly he would say many things, but public health and education would
be among the top two. [Applause]

In the past, the immense majority of the people did not have adequate
medical care or did not have any.  There were some private clinics, very
sophisticated ones, with all sorts of equipment.

The revolution established the people's right to medical care, and it is
necessary that such care be of maximum quality.  The people have a right
not only to medical care, but also to optimum medical care.  And the
institutions for the health of the people under socialism have to be better
and operate better than the most sophisticated private clinics under
capitalism [applause], because those few clinics where the millionaires
went were there to serve the millionaires, and the millionaires in
socialism are all the citizens of the nation. [Applause] And socialism can
offer the people better medical care than that offered at those
sophisticated clinics in the days of capitalism.  Everything then was a
business, a type of business, a private business.  On the other hand,
health is not a business for the revolutionary state.  On the contrary,
efforts, energy, and big resources are employed in this field.

We could say that the capitalists wanted to have sick people and socialism
wants no sick people.  That is why socialism begins working with preventive
medicine.  What good was it for a millionaire to be able to take his son to
a big clinic to take care of his poliomyelitis when the ideal thing is that
no one contracts poliomyelitis, and that poliomyelitis be eradicated?  What
good was it that he could take him to a big hospital sick with
tuberculosis?  The ideal thing is to eradicate tuberculosis, just as
numerous diseases have been eradicated during the process of our
revolution. [The ideal thing is] not that there be a big clinic to take
care of typhoid, but that there be no typhoid, or a big clinic to take care
of a malaria case, but that there be no malaria.

Since the revolution, where medicine and health are not a business of
anyone, is not interested in having sick people.  From the moment it fights
and eradicates diseases, it is offering a much superior health care than
that which could be offered in the few private installations, which were
the best, under capitalism.  There also were some public hospitals, but it
is known how that was: a chain of calamities where one had to surrender
even his voter's identity card, or have the influence of an important
official in order to be admitted to a hospital.

So much for the area of preventive medicine.  In the area of curative
medicine, however, the attention provided to the citizens must be better
than that provided in the best capitalist clinics.  Of course, before,
countless people needed surgery but could not get it because they did not
have the money, and they died.  That no longer happens here.  Today, all
cases are treated, regardless of how difficult, serious, or costly they may
be.  Surgical operations are performed to save lives, without ever, ever
giving any consideration to the cost.  And whenever it has not been
possible to resolve in this country a soluable eye, heart, or any other
type of problem, the state has never hesitated to seek other resources or
to send [the patient] abroad--that is, when the problem cannot be resolved

This, of course, should not be confused with those cases, which
unfortunately exist, that do not have a solution here or anywhere else.  In
their anguish, relatives think that, if not resolved here, the problem may
be resolved someplace else.  But I am not referring now to those cases,
which also exist.  In those impossible cases, the family makes desperate
efforts.  I am referring to those cases which may have arisen in certain
areas that could not be resolved here, but have been sent to where they
could be resolved.

Medical services have been extended to include dental services, which we
should gradually seek to improve qualitatively.  Now, on what does curative
medicine depend?  On the quality of doctors, on the quality of nurses and
health technicians.  Not only on their technical ability but, to a large
extent, on their humane quality as well. [Applause] The men and women of
highest humane quality should be on this front.  There is enough humane
quality among our people for all fronts, but if there is one front that
demands humane quality, vocation, a spirit of sacrifice, it is precisely
the health front.  And without the nurses and technicians, the doctors are
nothing.  The nurses, above all, are the ones who spend more time with
those who are ill.  And the result of the effort made will depend on how
they fulfill [their duties], on how they work.  Nobody can go around making
mistakes and giving one medicine instead of another.  Nobody can neglect a
patient who needs constant attention.  And the patient needs this attention
not only because of his health, not only to preserve his life and recover
his health, but also because of his emotional condition.  And it is a known
fact that if a spirit of sacrifice, vocation, love for others, solidarity
with others is needed and required for anything, it is for this activity.

Before, religious orders were created to tend to older people or to work in
certain clinics.  These were persons who, for religious reasons, dedicated
themselves to providing medical attention or to the work of technicians,
nurses, or hospital workers, because, of course, not only the hospital
technicians, but all hospital workers--those who cook, clean, maintain the
hospital--have to be people of special quality.  In our country some
services are still provided by members of these religious orders.  They do
it, they do it well, and we are, of course, very thankful to them.  Today,
in order to tend to the entire population, under socialism we need men and
women capable of making, en masse, out of human and political conviction
and out of principles, the sacrifices that a few people did in the past
because of religious motivations. [Applause]

That is what a communist should be.  To be a communist means to be that.
It means dedicating oneself entirely to something with a spirit of
sacrifice and solidarity.  And if classifications could be established
among communists so that it could be said that some are better than others,
it would be necessary to be able to picture those who work in the area of
public health as the better type of communist. [Applause]

Our educational workers, our mass organizations, our people must become
aware of this: in order to have the best medical attention and the best
health for the people, their best children must dedicate themselves to this
work front.  Because in this, as in everything else, the people will have
whatever they are capable of giving; the people will have whatever they are
capable of forming; the people will have whatever they are capable of
creating.  And if our people want optimal health for their children, for
their parents, for their brothers, for their wives and husbands, they must
provide the necessary human elements.  And this is the type of student we
want at our public health schools.

Our medicine today is much better than it was in the past.  The country has
been attentive to the progress made in this area, to the best technology,
to the best equipment, in order to buy it as soon as possible.  Today we
have services in all the provinces which in the past were available in only
a few hospitals in the capital.  And those services are being extended.
Specialties are also being extended throughout the country.

Our doctors are much better trained because no longer do we have, nor could
we have, a first prize in surgery without having ever watched an operation.
But this happened before in our university--a surgery prize without having
ever seen an operation.  Everything was theoretical.  Our medical students
now begin working in the hospitals during their first year.  According to
all those who are familiar with the past--which, of course, did produce
good doctors, because not all of them were the same, and although not all,
there were some good doctors--according to all those who lived in the past,
current training of our doctors is incomparably better than that provided
before.  And this is evident in our doctors' attitude.  Before, there were
no doctors to sent to Baracoa, for instance, or to the mountains.  No, all
doctors were in the capital.  Today, we not only have doctors for every
part of the country, but our doctors are also willing to render their
services anywhere in the world. [Applause] And medicine is among the most
prestigious technical cooperation tasks that our country performs abroad.
Our doctors have worked and continue to work in Asia, Africa, and the
Caribbean countries.  The demand for Cuban doctors and health technicians
is increasing at an extraordinary rate; it is growing extraordinarily
because of the prestige they have earned for themselves.

As we have explained on other occasions, when it is the case of a very poor
country, we donate aid.  If the country has economic resources, it provides
compensation for any such services--of the medical type--which our country
may render.  And there is a growing demand for these services.

That is why this activity is also closely related to the international
activity which our people most certainly carry out in other fields such as
construction.  Demand is great in practically all activities.  But the one
for which there is the most demand is medical aid, and not only for
doctors, but for nursing personnel and medical technicians as well.  The
demand is great.

According to statistics, there is a shortage, a real shortage in the world,
and not only of doctors.  In theory, there are countries that have so many
thousands of doctors, but not a single one is willing to go into the field,
as occurred here.  There are even developed countries that need doctors
because they do not have any doctors to send to certain places.  And in the
case of countries that were exploited by colonialism, the situation is
really tragic, tragic.  In many, they do not even have universities or
schools of medicine and [only have] a handful of doctors to attend to
millions of people.

But the crisis regarding nurses and medical technicians is even greater.
Something similar to this happened to us in this field.  Efforts were made,
as we said.  Dozens of thousands have been trained.  But the government,
the party, had not sufficiently emphasized the importance--both in quantity
and quality--of training medical technicians.  In addition, ambitious
school programs were drawn up--high school, preuniversity, physical
education teachers, sports schools. [Sentence as heard] But the medical
technicians' schools were the old ones--only a few--and the installations
adapted [for this purpose] by the ministry.  There did not exist,
independently of the university construction program, a construction
program like this one for health education centers until very recently.

When we became aware of this, we decided to recover lost time and to
include this type of installation in the construction program every year.
Currently, our capacity for students attending this type of institution,
infinitely superior to that which existed under capitalism, is
approximately 12,000.  We propose to raise this capacity for student
technicians--the teaching capacity for medical technician students--to
30,000 in the next 7 years.  It is said that for each doctor, the nation
should have at its disposal several medical technicians, without whom the
doctor could do nothing.

And an ambitious program is being executed in this field of education.  It
consists of enlarging the capacity for medical students from now until 1985
[by] the construction of new schools of medicine so that each province will
have one and some--the larger ones--two or more, like the province of
Havana City, which has two million inhabitants and important medical

Thought is being given to the establishment of a school of medicine,
involving approximately 1,500 students, in the general hospitals of each
province, mainly in the capital of the province.  There are some
exceptions.  The one in the province of Granma will be built in Manzanillo,
alongside the new, modern hospital that is being built there, and the Ciego
de Avila facility will be built near the modern hospital being constructed
in the city of Moron.  Some of the larger provinces, like Santiago,
Holguin, and Villa Clara, will have the equivalent of two of these
facilities.  And the city of Havana will have several.

In all, we estimate that in 1985 we will have the capacity for about 35,000
medical students.  Between 34,000 and 36,000 doctors will be produced in
this country.  And by that date, capacity for medical technicians will be
up to approximately 30,000 students.  Some will ask: less than medicine?
No.  While a doctor needs 6 years, the medical technician needs 3.
Therefore, with a capacity for 30,000, we would be training 60,000 in 6
years, in the same amount of time that some 35,000 doctors would be
undergoing training.  So, we will practically be training twice the number
of medical technicians as doctors each year.

What are we going to do?  Alongside each great hospital there will be a
school of medicine, a polytechnical institute similar to this, a
polytechnical institute like this one. [Applause]

Therefore, we will have an approximate total of 24 polytechnical institutes
of this type across the nation.

Currently, there are two, one in Pinar del Rio--which was built first,
although not in a typical building like this one or with all the facilities
this one has--and this one, which is already a typical project.  It has
improvements, a capacity which the first one did not have, and for which a
secondary school was used as the model.

Future ones that will be built will be like this one.  And if we find
defects in this one, [they will be] a little better.

The ones [presumably schools] in those hospitals, such as those in
Nuevitas, for example, in those hospitals with 300 beds that do not have
services as general as those in the provincial capitals' hospitals are
considered as schools of nursing.

For the training of medical technicians, we will have approximately 24
polytechnical schools, and between 10 and 12 new schools of nursing--I am
talking about new schools.

Each one of these institutions will be next to a hospital.  What do we have
here?  We already have the general hospital, the polyclinic, the
polytechnical institute.  We have other hospitals, and there will be other
polyclinics.  On the land located between the polytechnical health
school--the polytechnical institute--and the general hospital, we will
build the school of medicine of Camaguey. [Applause]

Thus, there will be a large combined health and educational complex.  This
is the concept under which other schools of medicine and polytechnical
health schools are being built.  There will be a polytechnical school
wherever there is a school of medicine, and both will be next to the most
important hospital in the area.  This is the criterion that serves as the
basis for the program which will be in effect from now until 1985.

The Construction Ministry is taking good care of these activities.  They
have programs for the construction of nursing schools, polytechnical
schools, and schools of medicine.

So, now we see that the way is clear and can see the capacity which the
country will have.  The educational basis has been created with the very
large number of ninth grade graduates.  We will create the necessary
facilities for as many students as we may need in this field.

To tell the truth, I think that this installation looks fine.  We have been
able to visit the laboratories--the material basis for studies--and they
are truly excellent. [Applause]

Apparently, the project is functional.  The completed work looks very good,
and I think we can feel satisfied that we are beginning to have
institutions such as this one.  It fills us with happiness to think that
every province will have one and that some provinces will have several.  We
have been the prosthetics laboratory.  The board of directors of the school
plans not only to teach, but also to start the production of prosthetics in
the school.  The laboratory has all the means necessary for this
production.  The equipment which a school such as this one has, costs
approximately $300,000.  So, do not think that this is very inexpensive.
We have to spend money.  We have to make efforts.  You are required to
provide good maintenance and the best of care to this equipment.

In some cases, the school's equipment--like the microscopes--has been
borrowed because the equipment that belongs to the school has not yet
arrived in the country.  But in general the equipment is of the finest

I want to give some data as to our medical status.  Right now, the country
has 13,908 medical doctors, 11,284 nurses, 4,406 laboratory technicians.
We also have nursing assistants, and so forth.

In comparison with 1958, we now have twice the number of doctors--then we
had 6,000.  We have already reached a level of one doctor for each 1,000
citizens, which is fairly good.

During the revolutionary period, 12,646 doctors, 2,522 dentists, and 65,747
health technicians have graduated.  Of course, they did not have he
conditions, the means, and the level that we will have in the future.

In the past 5 years, we have had as many medical school graduates as we had
in Cuba during all the years prior to the revolution.  There have been
large graduations.  Now they are somewhat smaller.  There was a period when
registration was not very high because the number of high school graduates
was small, and they had to be distributed among the various university
schools, but now we have between 3,500 and 4,000 students registering for
the school of medicine every year.  This will continue to increase.  By
1985, we will have approximately 7,000 students beginning their freshman
year, between 6,000 and 7,000.

I promise you that the time will come when the country will have as many
graduates from the school of medicine every year as there were doctors in
Cuba prior to the revolution.

How many doctors are we going to have for every 1,000, 800, 700, 400, or
300 persons?  As many as are needed.  There will not be too many doctors.
We may have a doctor in every school, in every factory, on every merchant
ship, on every fishing vessel, in every little town, but this is not all.
We are thinking not only about our needs, but about the extraordinary
demand for doctors which the country is receiving from abroad.

We are going to produce doctors for Cuba and for foreign economic
cooperation.  There are many prospects in this regard for our country.

In 1978 alone, our country has international commitments [to provide]
specialized medical assistance to underdeveloped countries to the tune of
2,531 specialists and technicians, notably 1,282 doctors, 640 nurses and
557 medical technicians.  And I warn you that at this moment we are unable
to meet the present demand, and this demand is growing.

Some countries which have substantial economic resources have asked us for
doctors and we have not been able to send the number required by them.  The
export of technical services has become an important factor for the
country' s economic development.  Therefore, in the case of the health
front, we are striving to expand and to perfect our technical services
quantitatively and qualitatively, and also to export technical
services in addition to the cooperation which we provide to certain
countries free of charge.

Perhaps what remains for us to do--in order not to make this too
extensive--is to acknowledge the builders of this building and of the 140
installations being inaugurated today. [Applause] In order to recognize the
effort made by them and by the Construction Ministry which, taking into
account the beginning of the school year, took pains to help receive the
avalanche of students who enroll in middle-level and higher education
centers each year, making their maximum efforts.  Without them, the
successful opening of this new school year would not have been possible.

We must also acknowledge the efforts of the workers who print books, who
have made it possible for us to have a large part of the books in the
schools, and I say a large part and not all [applause].  In this regard, we
are better off than last year.  We have a higher percentage of books.  Not
all books are produced in Cuba.  Some of them are printed abroad.  We will
be able to print all of them in the future, because we are building a large
printing plant for the education sector.  We are going to have a surplus
capacity.  But some books are currently being printed abroad.  It is
necessary to transport them from the ports to Cuba, and then to
redistribute them.  Trailer upon trailer of books have passed along our
roads in large quantities in these last few days.  However, unfortunately,
we do not have all the textbooks in all schools.  Upon initiation of the
school year, some books are lacking.  They will gradually arrive in the
next few weeks.  We must not be discouraged by this.  The book situation is
better than last year, and they are being transported from abroad and into
the country's interior posthaste.

It would be worthwhile to make reference to the need to take care of books.
As you know, books have to be returned to schools, and several millions of
books are lost every year.  Losses increase, particularly when the books
are very pretty and well made.

Of course, some books always deteriorate.  This is inevitable.  I am not
referring to those books, but to the books which are lost because someone
keeps them.  We must reduce the index of lost books.

It is necessary to acknowledge the huge effort carried out by instructors
and teachers not only in regard to the result of the last school year, but
because of their efforts in preparing this school year.  It is necessary to
acknowledge the enormous efforts being made by educational workers to
improve themselves, to study.  A real epidemic of study has fortunately
spread among our teachers and professors.  This type of epidemic is indeed
suitable for us. [Applause] We do not plan to eradicate this epidemic.  It
is the only way to move forward.  It is the only way to go far along the
paths of progress and well-being of mankind.

We are opening this school year with good omens.  We hope it will be a
further step forward.  And we hope to receive the cooperation of all, the
efforts of everybody, of the party--in the first place--of our Union of
Young Communists, of our mass organizations, of the families which have and
play such an important role in education, and of the entire people.

Let us also acknowledge the workers of the centers, the ones who render the
services, the ones who attend to the students performing menial but
selfless tasks.  And we urge everybody to do his best--the students, the
teaching and service personnel--so that our fatherland can proudly continue
along this victorious path, which is already making our country s education
the best in our hemisphere, and on the way to making it to the pride of our
people--one of the best in the world.  Fatherland or death, we shall win!