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Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 0129 GMT 14 Jul 79 FL

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at graduation of Manuel Ascunce
Domenech teacher training detachment students held at Havana's Karl Marx
Theater "in the afternoon" of 14 July--recorded]

[Text] Comrade leaders of the education sector, dear comrade graduates and
relatives: The family of graduates from the higher education institutes has
grown and for that reason it has been necessary this year to hold this
graduation ceremony at the Karl Marx Theater. If the figures are not
incorrect, a total of 2,548 have graduated from the higher institutes as
professors. In other words, from the third contingent [of the Manuel
Ascunce Domenech teacher training detachment) and--if the figures are
correct because a figure was given and then another, and I think that the
number of certificates I signed was different--[laughter] I believe the
exact number of graduates as certified teachers is 785.

As you can see, we have two generations of teachers. There are those of the
first contingent with the double distinction of having been the first to
graduate as teachers and the first to graduate as licentiates. I recall
perfectly well when they graduated after 5 years of study 2 years ago. All
of them were asked to make a special effort to continue their studies and
obtain the title of licentiate. Actually, 83 percent have graduated as such
of those who had already graduated as teachers. The number is truly high.
If it is not greater, it is due, in some cases, to objective difficulties
and justified reasons which did not permit them to graduate at this time.
There also is a reduced number [who did not graduate] due to subjective

In any case, it is an enormous satisfaction for us to be able to graduate
as licentiates this numerous group, this high percentage of the students
who 2 years ago graduated as teachers. At that time, the graduates from the
first contingent numbered around 1,000. In this case, that of the third
contingent, they number more than 2,500. This means that the number of
graduates as professors already exceeds 3,500 as a result of the effort
initiated almost 7 years ago with the creation of the Manuel Ascunce
Domenech teacher training detachment.

The extremely serious problem of not having enough teachers for the (
extraordinary growth in the number of intermediate-level students could be
solved solely and exclusively thanks to the detachment. The number of
intermediate-level students 7 years ago was not quite 300,000. This school
year [words indistinct] the school year that begins in September, we will
have approximately (1.2) million intermediate-level students. This is
almost four times more than we had when the detachment was created. This
advance could not have been possible [words indistinct) (?without) the

The number of students at the higher education institutes 7 years ago was
not quite [figures and words indistinct]. Today we have more than 50,000
students at the higher education institutes.

At first, it was necessary to call on students with a 10th-grade education,
and now the detachment is composed of pre-university school graduates. This
was an important advance. The detachment not only has helped our society to
solve this enormous and extremely important problem. It also has been
capable of taking from its ranks a new detachment--the Che Guevara
Internationalist Detachment. [applause]

These truly are important achievements and advances in all fields. At the
same time and along with the training of cadres as professors, it was
necessary to make an enormous material effort to build secondary,
pre-university and technological schools in the countryside and cities. It
was not possible to solve the problem with just one type of school.

A big effort was necessary to publish textbooks. A big effort has been
necessary to provide equipment, educational means, uniforms and supplies
for these schools with such a high number of students. And this was done
amid economic limitations and difficulties.

At the same time, a program was undertaken to improve our education system
which, for all practical purposes, will be applied at almost all primary
and secondary grades in the next school year.

If you think a little bit about all this, you will have a real idea of the
big effort and what an effort in education of this magnitude has meant for
a country that is poor, a country of the so-called Third World, an
underdeveloped country. This effort also coincided with a population
explosion, almost like an atomic explosion, which in turn almost coincided
with the triumph of the revolution.

Fortunately, this is not the situation now. Therefore, we will not be
forced in the future to make a quantitative effort of the magnitude our
country has made over the past 7 years ever since the detachment was
created. We could assert absolutely that no other country of the world, of
the underdeveloped world or any other, has had to undertake an effort as
the one Cuba has made in education over that period of time.

The circumstances are changing from that situation when we had no
professors or even primary school teachers. At a given moment, 70 percent
of the primary school teachers were not certified. This situation will have
been definitely overcome by 1980 with 100 percent of the primary school
teachers certified. [Castro now apparently addresses someone in the
audience] That one probably is protesting, saying: Well, if it had not been
for the population explosion I would not be here. [laughter]

I repeat that our situation with cadres is changing, and also with all the
primary teacher training schools built over these years, with more than
30,000 students at the primary teacher training schools and with tens of
thousands--I said more than 50,000--in the higher education institutes. Our
availability of human resources, which are fundamental, as cadres in
education is changing radically in comparison to the situation in the past.

Primary school teachers also are improving themselves. A numerous
contingent of primary school teachers helped us with intermediate-level
education when they devoted themselves to study and prepared to be teachers
at this level. And already there are about 12,000 primary school teachers
studying to become licentiates in primary education.

It seems to me that if we look at these prospects, our country in the
future will have a great number of well-trained cadres, most of them young
and with a wealth of extraordinary experience.

In future years we will not have to make a quantitative effort like the one
we have had to make over the past 7 of 10 years [and the one] that ends
approximately in 1980 or 1982 [as heard] when the number of students at the
intermediate level will still be growing but at a much lesser proportion
and the number of students in primary school will begin to drop. Of course,
we will have to continue building schools [words indistinct] must be built
at a faster rate at the university level. Over these years, we have built
not only urban and rural secondary and pre-university schools, but we also
have been able to build specialized schools, vocational schools, basic
sports training schools, physical education instructors schools, Camilito
[military-vocational] schools, technological institutes, higher pedagogic
institutes and university schools. We even have begun building the first
vocational arts schools. We still have to build many schools but in
different proportions. I repeat, much [building] in higher education and we
must complement the entire concept and system of education in our country.

However, I believe that the fundamental effort over the next 10 years and
even for the immediate future rests on a qualitative effort to complete our
education system improvement program. As you can see, we already have a
perfected system that cannot be compared with the one we had at the triumph
of the revolution in 1959 because it is infinitely superior. During the
first years [of the revolution], the books were ( old. We did not even have
textbooks. That is a problem of countries which make a revolution. They
find the old textbooks that have nothing scientific about them.

Our situation today in matters of textbooks and having a system and
accumulated experience is quite different. And, I repeat, we have an entire
program that has advanced much in improving the education system. At the
same time, the system demands constant improvement.

I say that our fundamental task in coming years is a qualitative one in
every sense--qualitative in teaching and quality of teaching; qualitative
in organization; qualitative in the development of the students'
personality and consciousness; qualitative in discipline; qualitative in
the performance of duties by the education cadres, directors, leaders,
chiefs of classes, professors and all workers in the education system.

We have made an enormous effort but we cannot say that everything went
well. We cannot say that all schools are models. It does not mean that we
do not have problems. There are some schools that indeed are model ones in
almost everything or in everything and others that are models of everything
that is bad. We know this. When there are hundreds upon hundreds of
schools and there is a comparison of promotion rates, discipline,
participation in productive work and organization, we can easily tell the
differences from one type of school and another. Although having the same
material resources, it happens, of course, that there is a good school when
there are good cadres, director and leaders at the school; when [words
indistinct] group of teachers who are conscientious, active, demanding. And
it is quite a problem to be able to have a good director for each of the
thousands of schools we have.

It is quite a problem to have a good director for a basic rural secondary
school with 600 students when the school was built for 500. Out of
necessity we had to raise the number of students [at such a school] by
putting a bed here, a bunk over here and another over there. But to manage
a school of 600 boarding students--not to mention a vocational school of
2,500 students or one of 4,500 students--is a very serious task requiring
an exceptional effort, exceptional cadres, exceptional professors,
exceptional workers. And this is so above all, when we have difficulties,
when we do not have all the uniforms we would like to have and uniforms
must be taken care of; when we do not have all the food supplies in the
quantity and quality we would like to have and what there is available must
be processed well and properly; when we do not have all the books we would
like to have, absolutely all the titles we would like and at the proper
time, despite the efforts the country is making, the capacity of all our
publishing houses, type of paper available, whether [the book] will be in
black and white or in color.

When the great many problems are analyzed each year when we are making
plans and analyzing resources, we can see many things [that are needed] and
not always is there enough for everything. Sometimes we have had to decide
how to solve a problem with a textbook because it had to be in color since
that was how it was designed and the quality of its contents and usefulness
depend on the use of colors. However, there is not enough printing capacity
or there is not [words indistinct] necessary. It then must be printed
abroad and we have 1, 2 or 20 classes without textbooks because the
improvement program requires new books. Since $600,000 or $700,000 must be
spent [abroad], which we did not have, we have had to make the hard
decision to spend $300,000 or $350,000 so that at least there is one book
per two students. Sometimes we have had to make these decisions of having
one book per two students.

It is then when we understand the importance of the habit of taking care of
books, uniforms, school supplies, equipment, furniture, buildings,
everything. It is then when we understand and have an overall idea of the
circumstances under which we have had to undertake this educational effort,
I would say a heroic one, so that no child is left without school and no
youth is left without the opportunity of studying.

Many times the effort of each year has been agonizing and anguishing
when--despite all the schools plus wooden secondary schools and urban
secondary schools--we found that in such and such a province so many
youngsters, 10,000 or 15,000, are left [for whom there is no space]. There
is the effort every year preparing installations and houses so that we can
have no youngster in a province without school. This must be understood to
understand the meaning of creating habits, consciousness, discipline and
respect toward all the property that belongs to the people for which they
pay with their work.

To all this must be added the fact that we must repair factories, repair
schools every year, repair hospitals, repair housing units and [consider]
whether there is enough cement and paint. All this requires a very rigorous
distribution effort and requires rigorous attention.

The schools currently are administered by the local people's government
organs and methodologically administered by the Education Ministry. There
is much insistence, much insistence with the comrades of the party at each
province, with party leaders, with the leaders of people's government
because, of course, all the schools do not have the same construction
quality. Some were better built than others. However, even a well-built
school requires maintenance and, at the same time, care.

The students, school directors and professors not always concern themselves
with this. Not all concern themselves with discipline. Not all concern
themselves with the organization [of the school]. Not all concern
themselves with the attitude of students, with the quality of teaching,
with the care of the school and school materials. And there are stories
ranging from the case of food poorly prepared and no one caring, to the
case of a neighbor who passes by the school, enters the school and has
lunch there; or, according to some stories I have heard, a neighbor who
suddenly visits the school and sleeps in the school. Well, such things
cannot happen in a well-organized school.

We must be aware of the responsibility educators have, the responsibility
they have in our society, in our social system, in our revolution and in
our future because the teachers and professors work with the children and
youths. The success of our revolution, the security of our future and the
success of our socialism will depend, to a great extent, on what the
educators are capable of doing. [applause]

Nothing, no material mechanisms of any type can replace the consciousness
of man. Discipline is obtained under capitalism through the most brutal
repression of all types. Under socialism, the fundamental thing must be
man's consciousness and this is irreplaceable regardless of the methods or
mechanisms that socialism can use. Of course, there is no recourse except
taking a thief to court. We cannot depend on a thief's consciousness to
behave and not steal. Thus, police, investigations and prisons are
necessary. All this is necessary and, as a matter of fact, we do not apply
them correctly and properly. In any case, there must be an effort not to
have thieves. Why are there thieves? It is a question we must ask
ourselves. Why are there criminals? I am no specialist on this matter but I
am certain that if the reasons why an individual fell into crime are
analyzed conscientiously, we would find the deficiencies in his education
and development, the bad influences he received in his life, the bad
influences he received (?from) his family, the bad influences he received
from the environment in which he was raised and the bad influences from the
world around him.

And an educator must struggle against all such bad influences, beginning
with the influence exercised by the family itself. Such influence could be
very useful and extraordinarily positive. In fact, our educational system
is based on the backing and support for the family. But many times its
influence is a negative one.

A youngster is guided very much by the example he sees and, above all, he
guides himself by the example set by his teachers, school leaders and
school workers. If youngsters get used to seeing lack of discipline, they
create habits of lack of discipline, disregard of discipline and unconcern
for discipline. If he sees thefts, he begins to acquire indifference toward
these problems of moral standards, If he sees disorder, he begins to reject

I believe, always have believed and, logically, I think you also believe
that education is the most powerful weapon available to man to create
ethics, consciousness, a sense of duty, a sense of organization, a sense of
discipline. And actually, I believe that if there is a place where there is
no room for any tolerance or softness, that place is the school. And we
always have been in favor of the teachers having all the authority they
require and that society grant them that authority. But it is not enough
that society grants them that authority. Each of you must gain it through
your behavior and example. Each of you must be a militant in being
demanding at the schools. And if the director is not a demanding person,
the group [of teachers] must evaluate him at meetings. You must point out,
criticize and untiringly fight everything that is poorly done at the
schools where you work.

You know that youngsters are precisely at that age in which they are
susceptible to very positive influences as well as negative ones. You know
and you should know that the ideological struggle has not ended just
because we have had 20 years of revolution. The fact that the revolution is
solid does not mean that the ideological struggle has disappeared. To the
contrary, imperialism knows that this country of today is not the same as
that of 20 years ago. This is a more solid, stronger and experienced
country. Imperialism knows that the influence of the Cuban revolution today
is incomparably greater than 20 years ago. Imperialism, which at first
perhaps underestimated our people and our revolution, does not
underestimate them now.

As long as socialism exists on the one hand and capitalism and imperialism
on the other, there will be a hard ideological struggle and in the most
subtle ways. And you have the sacred mission and fundamental role to
develop the consciousness and ethics of the future generations of Cubans.

You have declared here, you have pledged clearly and precisely a specific
conduct and to strictly adhere to your oath. We have confidence in you,
complete confidence in you. We have special confidence in you because you
responded when the call to form the detachment was made. You have performed
your duties as education workers and students. You have graduated after 5
years of study plus 2 more to obtain your licentiate. The comrades of the
third contingent responded and worked and studied for 5 years to graduate.
And I am certain that the immense majority will continue with higher
studies and that in coming years we will have increasing graduations of
licentiates in education and of professors from the second and fourth
contingents and the third and fifth because even the fifth contingent will
have to study the 2 years necessary for the licentiate. We will then have
graduations of the last contingents with the first students who joined [the
Manuel Ascunce Domenech detachment] with a bachelor's degree. we will have
increasing graduations in coming years.

However, the thing that interests us is the quality of your work, that
work you have pledged to do, the accuracy of your work; and your being
demanding, I repeat, being demanding because we are lacking in enough will
of being demanding. [applause] This will require an effort of the party,
state, mass organizations and all the people.

It would be preferably to hear complaints that too much is demanded than
the complaints we hear that nothing is demanded. Of course, there will be
complaints. This is so because when discipline begins, there is always a
spirit of opposition to demands. This is certain, However, when it is known
that things are poorly done in various places because there is not enough
struggle against them, we must be untiring and implacable in fighting them
everywhere, especially in education.

I said that we have confidence in you. I also say that we have hopes with
you and primary school teachers because we know and are aware of the
infinite wealth we have in you and of the experience that you are
accumulating and will accumulate so that we can say in the future that we
have the best teachers. We also want to be able to say that we also have
the most revolutionary teachers, [applause] the most solid bulwarks of the
revolution and the most conscientious. To reach this point, you will have
to be full of the spirit of our workers, of the proletarian spirit. And
having a proletarian spirit means to struggle without rest against what we
could call petit bourgeois weaknesses [applause], petit bourgeois defects
[applause], petit bourgeois vices because only a bourgeois or petit
bourgeois spirit allows not caring for the destruction of a piece of
furniture or equipment or for the existence of lack of discipline,
deficiency, weakness and tolerance. You must fight against that spirit
wherever you are and fight against yourselves if circumstances or the
environment generate these petit bourgeois manifestations in any of you.

Discipline belongs to the spirit of the worker and it means being punctual
and strictly fulfilling all obligations. Each of you must fulfill your
obligations regardless of difficulties before you can demand it of others.
And we know that there are difficulties.

We recently analyzed some of the difficulties in Havana Province. We could
see different problems and that it was hard sometimes to find teachers in
our capital for the pre-university and secondary schools in the
countryside. We even noted that this was more difficult in Havana than in
the other provinces and that the problems were getting worse. We saw, of
course, that subjective factors existed without ignoring the existence of
objective ones also.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide housing to all the teachers
near their school. This is just to cite one example. Unfortunately, often
the individual effort that is required is too big when [teachers] have to
travel every day from Havana to the interior and they have to get up early
and return late. Yes, we know that we have difficulties and that we are
surrounded by difficulties. On the other hand, we would not have what we
have today if we had become discouraged. We would not have those 1.2
million students we are going to have at the intermediate level. We would
not have eliminated illiteracy. We would not have 50,000 students in the
higher education institutes. We would not have these graduations. We would
not have tens of thousands of youths in the teacher training detachment. We
would not have the internationalist detachment.

What we have achieved we have done so because we courageously tackled
difficulties and overcame them. We have difficulties and we are going to
continue having them for a long time. We cannot be naive. We cannot be

It was up to this generation to make the greatest efforts. Others did it in
the past, in 1868, in 1895, without having had the pleasure of seeing this
free and independent homeland. We have had a much greater privilege. We
have not only enjoyed the complete sovereignty of our country, but also we
have had the revolution and the opportunity to create and build our own
future and shape and develop our own life.

Man is an extraordinary raw material. Poorly managed, it can produce bad
consequences. Well developed, this raw material can produce miraculous

Therefore, if we compare our current problems and difficulties with those
of the past, we would see that they are infinitely less. However, there are
difficulties and we must not close our eyes and say that they do not exist.
We must recognize that they exist. And we must fight them, tackle them and
fulfill our objectives.

What will be the result of our work? Look to the future. Think of the
future. Can you imagine a society not of illiterates or semi-illiterates as
we were 20 years ago? Think of our society 20 years from now. And to speak
of 20 years from now to you does not mean much because you are going to be
professors 20 years from now and still young. I saw the most outstanding
ones when I presented them with their certificates. We know many of them
because the detachment, among its many successes, has attracted many
comrades from the Federation of University Students and the president of
the federation. [applause]

Think of the future. Look 20 years ahead. Compare that image you can form a
nation in which it may seem laughable that at one time there existed
illiteracy or semi-illiteracy; a nation with a society of an educational
level of pre-university and above. That will be the society of the future.
That is the society that is in your hands as professors and teachers. And
the value of that society will depend on your best work. [applause] That is
what we ask of you as you graduate today.

We thank you for all your responses when the detachment was created, for
keeping up with your studies, for graduating and because you are capable of
continuing with higher studies. We thank you for the massive response you
have given. You are men and women capable of setting and reaching a goal
and whatever goals are necessary. [applause] Fatherland or death, we will
win. [applause]