Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PA102157 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 0130 GMT 8 Feb 87

[Speech by President Fidel Castro at closing session of 11th National
Education Seminar at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana on 5 February --

[Text] Don't let these papers alarm you. I will not use them. I brought
them in case I lack some data or something like that. Comrades, as I have
said on other occasions -- and I do not know how many more times I will
have to repeat it -- I do not like to make wrap-ups [conclusions] or
deliver closing statements for events in which I have not participated
[word indistinct] and in which I have not really had an opportunity to get
to know the full details of the matters debated.

However, Comrade Fernandez [Education Minister Jose Ramon Fernandez]
insisted that I attend this final part of the event. He felt it was
important -- perhaps he exaggerated -- that I deliver some closing
statements bearing in mind the complexity of this whole education problem.

I have read the newspapers to learn about it. I have talked with him I have
read some material -- in a nutshell, the minimum technical [material]
required to be able to make some statements regarding the subject you have

However, in essence I was thinking that these discussions would never have
taken place if a revolution had not been carried out in our country. These
problems are not being discussed in any other Latin American country or in
any other Third World country. I think these problems are being discussed
only in very few countries of the developed world.

First of all, the fact that we are discussing these problems is a great
thing and the fact that we -- who are much better off than our Latin
American and Central American brothers, and our brothers of the Third World
-- are discussing these matters despite the fact, I repeat, that we are
much better off, is a very good thing. This demonstrates something
fundamental: We are not pleased with our work.

Teachers, ministers, and all the rest will surely meet again in 10 or 15
years to discuss all these things because they are not happy with their
work. It would be very bad for us to be satisfied with our work because
this is how we had been feeling although not all was perfectly all right.
[sentence as heard] The problems under discussion have to do with a basic
idea that corresponds to this moment, to our era, and to a revolution in
progress. This basic idea is quality of education. With and without the
congress, with and without criticism, the matter of quality becomes
fundamentally important for our country at the present time. Naturally,
various aspects have been criticized in the congress, including education.
This caused a movement and a broad discussion by the rank and file. This
brought about an in-depth analysis and the purpose of positively and
constructively answering the criticisms and raising the quality of our
education. However, specific, more strict measures, and several problems
arose. It was clear that the problems were even greater than anticipated.
Several contradictions appeared. The existence of mistakes and negative
trends was even more evident. Nevertheless, professors and teachers should
not regard themselves as the only sector of the country with mistakes and
negative tendencies.

Mistakes and negative trends also occurred in other sectors, as you have
seen during these discussions at the congress. In many cases, there were
mistakes and negative pendencies even more serious than those in education.

Of course, each of the branches, each of the sectors are interested in
their own problems and their solutions. Really, these problems and errors
start this way, but and [changes thought] one could say that about most of
our revolutionary aspects. One of them is that we were resting upon our
laurels. I am not going to talk about this as all of last year I spoke
extensively on all these problems.

Here is where the contradiction between promotions and the quality of
education became evident. It is clearly apparent that the criteria of
promotion prevailed. I myself spoke many times and warned against this,
many times. I must have said this in no less than 8 or 10 speeches where I
mentioned a phrase, the promotion phrase, which included the word quality.

It was apparent that much emphasis was put on promotions and not enough on
quality. In order to advance a student everything was evaluated, and it
became apparent that in order to pass, efforts were made, reviews were made
of the subjects. It is alright to review, but these reviews practically
told the students what the exam questions would be. The students were
passing the exams and we were resolving the problem of student promotion,
but not on the basis of quality, but by making things easy and sometimes
even by way of fraud.

As for the question of quality, it was not only appropriate but a necessity
to correct errors and negative trends, and that was one of them. It was
also related to the revolution's need to raise quality. It is related to
this period of revolutionary process which has surpassed the question of

Quantity indexes now mean nothing. For a long time quantity indexes told
us: There once was a certain percentage of illiteracy, and now there no
longer is that percentage; there was a certain number of children without
schools, and now there are far fewer because now we have schools, there was
a certain number of children that were below average in school, and now
there are fewer children who are below average. There was a complex
enrollment structure in which nearly all were primary students. That is no
longer so. The number of primary students and higher level... [corrects
himself] the number of mid-level and high school students was equal or
greater than the number of primary school students. The number of teachers
with degrees was 30 percent in primary school; 70 percent of the professors
did not have their degrees. There was a large number of high school
students, but then there were not enough teachers, so it was necessary to
recruit the students of pedagogical departments to give a helping hand. The
problem of university students, the problem of failed students -- all these
matters have to do with the quantitative factors of our educational system.
We were already graduating 100 percent of primary school students. We never
got to this state with the mid-level students because the rules of the game
were changed. Then there were other grades and titles and it placed us in a
situation where we now have 35 percent in the basic high school level.

We could then speak of a level of 97 or 98 percent of children between the
ages of 6 and 12 enrolled in school, a very high level. And we know that
our schools are everywhere. That is why I cannot understand the
international statistics which state that the United States has 100 percent
enrolled in school. We just do not believe that. We know the problems that
lack of schooling bring about. We know of the problems that prevent it from
being 100 percent. There are many social problems of this type that exist
at a much higher level in the United States than in Cuba. We know what
happens to the immigrants, to those who are there illegally, what happens
in the Hispanic and black neighborhoods, what happens in the big cities --
poverty, begging, and lots of special problems -- but they have the gall;
in other words, UNESCO reports: 100 percent enrolled in schools. We do not
go that far, but we believe the efforts we have made to enroll students
cannot be surpassed by anyone in the world. We should have one of the
highest indexes.

But look carefully: It is quantitative. The indexes of those 12 to 16 years
old who are enrolled is nearly 90 percent. Those are quantitative indexes.
If the school enrollment for those 12 to 16 years of age is more than 90
percent, those are quantitative indexes. Those indexes do not really say
much about the education efforts we must make. It is obvious, then, that
during the remainder of this century and in the next all our efforts will
have to be directed toward the quality of education. I think this is the
main focus of our present problems. I would not want to say that there are
not other countries that are ahead of us -- other Latin American and Third
World countries -- in the quality of education. I sincerely believe that we
are ahead of the rest, even in that regard. This is what we are talking
about and what we are dissatisfied with, the quality of education.

However, this alone must not satisfy us, particularly when we know that we
can do much more. The truth is that we need much more. Our country, the
revolution, socialism, and our desire to someday have a superior society,
even a communist society, call for much more. This has become the main
issue of our discussion.

Several factors are involved in this. We have already approached some,
others have not been approached in depth. We have talked about -- and for a
reason -- the quality of our professors' work. Even though we know that we
have many good professors and teachers, not all the work being done by
every professor and teacher is good. Therefore, we must improve the quality
of their work.

We know that even though there are many good or excellent classes, there
are also many that leave much to be desired. This has to do with the
quality of education, and we are asking professors for more effort to
improve the quality of their work. We are also demanding everyone's help to
achieve this improvement in the work of professors and teachers. This
effort cannot only be demanded from professors and teachers; it must also
be made by parents and families. Even though quality is something that a
school must provide, we must not underestimate or free the family of this
responsibility in regard to this facet of education that has much to do
with the quality of education.

We must also demand more effort from students. We would be fooling
ourselves if we were to believe our students are doing their best. They are
not. During a recent poll in Havana Province we talked with the parties
involved: with the families, students, and professors. They brought up
issues related to the quality of education.

For example, we asked everyone to say what they considered was the biggest
problem affecting the education process. Almost 80 percent of you mentioned
the biggest problem was giving students unearned passing grades; others
said the biggest problem was discipline; others said it was poor quality in
teaching; while still others said too much subject material was being
included in each class. Others who were asked what they considered the
biggest problem spoke of insufficient demands, making things too easy,
teachers being transferred, etc.

Among the schools visited, the biggest problems seen were: The students are
not studying -- I am not afraid to say this and I do not want this to be
used as an excuse to blame the students for the problems the education
system is experiencing. But 97.8 percent of the professors mentioned this
as the main problem. Almost 100 percent of them said this was the biggest
problem. However, 93.1 percent of the students said the students were not
studying. The students said this and 87.2 percent of the parents also
admitted that, the students are not studying. Another problem mentioned was
absenteeism; 90.3 percent of the professors, 89.3 percent of the students,
and 89.5 percent of the parents admitted that this is a big problem. Also,
85.7 percent of the professors, 91.1 percent of the students, and 84.2
percent of the parents said that the biggest problem was lack of discipline
among the students. [all figures as heard]

The problem of too much subject material in a class was mentioned by 83.6
percent of the professors and 68.2 percent of the students -- they
complained the least about this. The problem of absenteeism among
professors was presented as a problem by 76 percent of the professors, 76.6
percent of the students, and 79.5 percent of the parents. The problem of
poor class quality was mentioned by 63.4 percent of the professors, 65.3
percent of the students, and 66.7 percent of the parents. Other problems
mentioned were that a full day of school was not being put to the best use,
too many teachers were being transferred, etc. For example, the problem of
teachers using transferred was mentioned by 52.4 percent of the professors,
73.6 percent of the students, and 77.6 percent of the parents.

By all these figures we can see the most honest of all the people who
participated in the poll were the students. I was surprised by the
professors. However, the answers given by the teachers and professors were
much more in accord with the situation than the answers given by the

There is an odd situation here regarding the degree of responsibility that
corresponds to each one of the factors involved in the teaching-educational
process. The teachers said the most important factor concerning the degree
of responsibility... [changes thought] teachers were the group that most
frequently mentioned the family as having the greatest responsibility.
Eighty-six percent of the teachers said the family had the highest level of
responsibility. The family was the most-mentioned factor. It was mentioned
by 81.5 percent of the students, and by 79.3 percent of the parents; at
least a great number of them admitted they are responsible, that the family
is responsible.

As for students' responsibility, the degree of responsibility attributed to
students, this factor was mentioned by 66.9 percent of the teachers, 71.9
percent of students, and 76 percent of parents.

Now, regarding teachers' responsibility, it was mentioned only by 66.3
percent of teachers, 65.8 percent of students, and 86.1 percent of the

In other words, families want to give more responsibility to teachers than
to themselves, and conversely, teachers want to give more responsibility to
the family than to themselves.

Regarding the psychological factor, teachers were the most pessimistic.
They believe problems are very difficult to solve. They also are
pessimistic. However, this is not too bad after all. Let us say that
approximately 71.7 percent are not doing so well, 40.4 percent are
optimistic, 21.7 percent feel confident, 6.9 percent are happy, 1.4 percent
are satisfied, 1.3 percent are untroubled, 9.3 percent are worried, 5.5
percent are angry, 3.8 percent insecure, 1.5 percent pessimistic, 0.2
percent frustrated. Excuse me, I read the wrong column. For teachers,
optimistic, 43.8 percent; confident, 18.1 percent; happy, 2.7 percent;
satisfied [words indistinct]; favorable: a total of 66 percent. Worried,
11.9 percent; angry, 8.6 percent; insecure, 4 percent; pessimistic, 2.4
percent; frustrated, 0.4 percent; which is twice what I read before [as
heard]. I read from the first column, which showed a total amount.

Students: 32.4 percent optimistic; 26.6 percent confident; 16.2 percent
happy; 3.9 percent satisfied; [figure indistinct] untroubled. The total
percentage of students showing a favorable, optimistic, and confident
attitude was 81.6 percent. Those showing a negative attitude totaled 10.2

Families: 74.2 percent showed a favorable state of mind, while 14.8 percent
had an unfavorable attitude.

Now, let us look at the main criteria and recommendations expressed by
those interviewed on the educational problem. There is an interesting point
here. How many feel that the family plays the most important role in the
home-school relationship; 84 percent of teachers, 13.5 percent of students;
and only 5.5 percent of parents. They do not even want to discuss the
problem. Thus, 80.4 percent of the teachers interviewed mentioned the
important role played by the family as well as a good home-school
relationship. However, only 5.5 percent of the parents interviewed referred
to this problem in that sense.

There is more: Of every three students interviewed, one expressed
satisfaction with Resolution 37 [not further identified], and so forth.

Now, regarding the elimination of the easy method [facilismo] and the
granting of unearned passing grades [promocionismo] as one of the most
popular measures, 67 percent of the teachers...or parents...67, 67 percent of teachers mentioned the elimination of the easy
method and the granting of unearned passing grades as one of the most apt
measures. Oddly enough, only 6.1 percent of parents mentioned this. That is
why I say that parents are really the most unrealistic. Only 6.1 percent
mentioned this subject. [all figures in preceding nine paragraphs as heard]

This is how the statistical data obtained in surveys translate into
reality. There is no doubt that the teachers' work is most significant.
There is no question about it. But there is also no doubt that the work of
the parents is also most important. It is also a basic matter. We must
demand from professors and teachers their maximum effort, regardless of
what the parents may do or fail to do, because they have a great
responsibility. Now, our society must also demand maximum effort from
parents. This is not a parents' association meeting, but one could well be

One could be organized, so that they also could discuss the problems
concerning education. It could be organized. I am not saying do it tomorrow
-- there are too any meetings already. But our society can educate parents,
help to educate parents. Our mass organizations, our mass media, our press,
can write and talk more. They can help and contribute, and encourage
parents. An educational job must be done with parents, because it is cause
for concern -- in some ways it is cause for concern -- that there should be
cases where professors tend to shove greater responsibility on parents;
parents attempt to shove it on professors; and only in a minimal percentage
of cases are parents clearly aware of all they can do to help improve their
children's education. I believe it is a job for the party, the mass
organizations and the entire society to make efforts, and to exert
themselves to improve the quality of education as is demanded by the

We are aware of the existing social problems; we are aware of the
tremendous handicaps of broken families, of divorce. It would also have to
be taken into account how much influence these factors exert over the
problems of the young ones. Because, not exclusively in education, but even
in the social behavior of citizens, of adolescents and young people, we
find that these factors exert much influence -- when they lack attention
from their parents. Sometimes they only receive attention from the mother
or only from the father and sometimes, unfortunately, they lack attention
from either mother or father. In these cases, the result is relatively high
delinquency rate.

We also know that the social factors that still exist in our country --
stages of development, the poverty of the past, the living conditions that
many children still endure, the environment where they are educated, what
they see and what they learn in the streets -- also exert influence.
Somebody was telling me that one of the teachers said that sometimes he
felt as though all he accomplished in school was destroyed at home. This
may be true, that such a feeling may exist. This, however, must not
discourage us, this must not lead us to feel defeated. It would be more
difficult for us to instill adequate behavior and a sense of responsibility
in all parents. It would be more difficult for us to change many of the
objective conditions that still persist in our society than it would be for
us to make a greater effort. Educational organizations, professors,
organizations [as heard] must try, with a greater effort, to compensate for
the shortages and the problems left to us by these social situations that
exert influence on the lives of the people.

Our awareness of the responsibility of the environment and the family must
not lead us to diminish our efforts, to weaken our work, to lower our
contributions to the solution of these problems, because I firmly believe
that the school can do a great deal.

I really think that the professors and teachers can do a lot. I realize
that they cannot do everything, but they can do a lot. The revolution could
not expect all parents to shape up or all family and marital disputes to
disappear, because that would be dreaming, or that all problems of a social
or material type disappear suddenly, because that would be dreaming.
However, the revolution does have the right to ask this entire generation
of professors and teachers who have been trained under the revolution, who
have been educated by the revolution with more efficiency or less
efficiency, who have grown under the revolution -- has the right to ask,
and does ask, for their maximum effort. [applause]

Dear comrades, we cannot stop and do research on international experiences
regarding this problem. When our country addressed the problem of
education, of illiteracy, we used our own experience.

The revolution was creative in its methods to stamp out illiteracy. It used
creative methods to move the teachers to the mountains and everywhere else,
and to create the pedagogic detachment at the time of the big boom in its
level of education.

The revolution was creative regarding the schools and the countryside, in
the schools, in the countryside [Castro repeats himself]. It was creative
when it combined study and work. I ask myself if other countries use this
system to such a high degree, if other countries have made an effort to
such a high degree as the revolution in this field.

The revolution has been very creative in the field of education because it
is difficult to imitate in this field. Each country adapts its own methods
to its own historical conditions, to its own problems. I will say something
else. Other countries do not look for problems for themselves, they want
absolutely no problems in this regard.

Here we spend days, and even months, discussing the matter of the
evaluation, the strictness of the evaluation. We discuss the absolutely
necessary and just question of adapting the evaluation to the quantity and
quality of the education. We are doing this now -- trying to find the
proper formula to conciliate the proper evaluation, the proper quality, and
the proper advancement with mass education, because this is not education
for an elite group but education for absolutely all children in our
country. [It is not] for a group, for a minority.

Education is for everyone, including those who for some health reasons or
for some factor they were born with, require special schools and special
education. The revolution neglects no one. It does not neglect a single
person, whether the student is blind or a deaf-mute, or whether he has any
problems of any kind, be they physical or mental. It does not neglect a
single person, which is why 45,000 students are enrolled in our special
schools. There was not a single special school, or a single student
enrolled in such nonexistent schools in our country at the time of the
revolution's victory. No statistical comparison can be made because
statistics go from zero to 45,000.

This education, therefore, has a universal character. It has been created,
established, and developed for the benefit of all the country's children.
We have to attend to all of them. We have to educate all of them. We have
to teach all that can be taught to all of them, to each and every one of
them. This is the principle, and according to this objective, we have to
match the massive quantity with quality, to conciliate the massive quantity
with advancement. We have to conciliate this, and I do not think in any way
that this is an unresolvable contradiction.

I am convinced that we can find a solution to this contradiction in favor
of quality. It is possible, and this is the question. This is the essential
problem to be solved. That is why we discuss, think, and ponder ways to
find the best formulas to do so.

We do not lack resources. All of us know that we do not lack the resources.
We may face difficulties, such as the ones you mentioned -- that materials
lacked by each technical or technological school do not arrive, that books
are delayed, that there is no water in certain schools, that an
installation is not good, or that there are too many students in some of
them. However, they do not lack resources.

Among Third World countries, Cuba is the country that has more resources
for education. No other country has so much; if you do not believe it,
analyze available statitistics. We are now spending 175 pesos per
inhabitant on education. That is nearly 1.8 billion pesos of our budget,
nearly three times the amount spent in other sectors such as public health
despite the importance of this sector. We spend 1.8 billion pesos. The
revolution has never scrimped on resources for education. We have never
scrimped with funds from our budget to hire a new professor or even for an
excess number of professors, because we plan to use those funds to foster
the continuous improvement of our professors. We have reached a point where
we now have an excess of teachers.

We are employing them to resolve current problems. We are sending many
primary school teachers to study, to train professors in physics,
chemistry, mathematics, and other fields that have been deficient. More
than 10,000 primary school teachers are on reserve. No other sector in the
country enjoys this situation.

However, the nation at present has 265,000 professors and teachers. I would
dare say that no other country in the world has a higher percentage of
professors and teachers per inhabitant; I said no other country in the
world. We also have more than 160,000 students in teachers centers, schools
for primary school teachers, the Superior Pedagogical Institute, and the
various educational centers in the country. We have more than 160,000.

No other country has a larger number of professors and teachers studying.
There is no country where they are systematically studying; there is none.
We could say more about this matter. We are trying to get primary school
teachers to upgrade their education. Many thousands of primary school
teachers are studying for a bachelors degree in primary education. I doubt
that there is any other country in the world today that practically ensures
that all primary school teachers will receive bachelor's degrees in primary
education after a total of 18 years of study. [sentence as heard] That is
18 years; the 9 years they already have at admission time, plus 4 others,
which makes 13, and the final 5; I think it is 19 years [as heard]. At
least 18 years of systematic studies to teach first to sixth grades. There
is no country in the world doing this.

Therefore I ask: Do we not have a right to expect and demand superior and
better quality? Do we not have the right to be optimistic regarding the
possibility of achieving a really superior education; superior to any other
country? In the field of education, what other country in the Third World
-- in act what country in the developed world -- can say this? The age and
youth [as heard] of our professors and teachers depend on us and only on
us. We have enjoyed all the necessary resources, cadres, personnel, the
highest per capita index. They are talented people. I am not the only one
saying this. Our visitors say it, because we are comparing ourselves to
ourselves; comparing the good things we could do with the things we fail to

People coming from abroad marvel at the progress made by our country in the
field of education. We should only compare ourselves to ourselves, because
we do have someone else to compare ourselves with [Castro chuckles]
ourselves; compare what we are currently doing with what we could do.

I said that some countries do not even bother with this, because I have
asked how [Castro chuckles] they solve this problem in other countries.
Many countries facing this problem pass every student from one grade to the
other from 1st to 12th grade [Castro chuckles]. Well, I believe this is an
easy formula.

Imagine if we should adopt this formula. Imagine if we say: Genetlemen,
sleep in peace, do not worry, because all students, 100 percent of them
will pass from 1st to 12th grade.

We cannot do that. We must not do that. Our feeling, our concept of quality
demands from us other methods which we cannot copy. We have to seek our own
solutions. We have no other alternative but to seek our own solutions. We
have to find our own solutions. We will find them. We will continue to seek
them until we find them.

I was told that there was a discussion -- a comrade brought this up here --
about what to do with the passing from the first grade. I think that in
principle it has been agreed that there should not be any retention in the
first grade and that every student should pass from first to second and
that afterwards the evaluations have to be made in order to pass. I do not
see any other way to struggle for quality if there is no evaluation and if
there is no establishment of the principle that each student must be in the
grade that corresponds to his knowledge. That formula which was discussed
was accepted in principle. The professor could even pass with the student
from the first and second grade; others could pass from the first to the
fourth grade, and others from the third to the fourth grade. This is being
proposed based on the idea -- it is not an absolute idea or truth -- that
the ideal thing would be for teachers to pass.

As someone who is not an expert on the subject, I think the idea of having
a primary school teacher specialize in first grade is narrow-minded. If you
were talking about the teachers of the past who entered after sixth grade,
who studied to be a teacher after sixth grade. [sentence as heard] Those
teachers who enter after ninth grade study for 4 years. They then obtain
primary education degrees. That is, 18, 19 years of study -- how could that
teacher not be qualified to pass with the student from the first to the
fourth grade, which seems to be the ideal?

Of course, when we speak about a formula for this year, these are not
definitive formulas. As I was saying earlier, we have to adapt the measures
to our realities, to the current realities, because of the massive nature
of our education, because of the problems that we have with quality,
because of the problems that have given rise to this effort, this movement
for improvement, for perfecting, for the study of the content, for the
elimination of the subjects that are not essential so as to prevent
overload and many other measures being discussed.

We have to adopt the steps we will take now, which will not be the
definitive ones. We are at a critical moment. I really believe, and
experience teaches us this today, that we have scarcely intensified and
increased in a generalized manner the rigorous presentation of the problem
of these massive passings, the worrisome high number of passings that led
to the discussion in the congress which led to the formula -- in my view
very wise and correct -- about adapting the evaluation to the quantity and
quality of teaching. We have to do so. We have to take these steps about
which we spoke earlier. Experience shows us that it is better to make one
cut and not two. And we have come to the conclusion, well, to give the
tests after the cut and the reevaluation and even a special exam [el
extraordinario]. We must clear the path. We should take time to carry out
this policy. The increase in quality is really what is demanded. It could
not be done in 1986 or 1987 nor will it be done in 1988.

I think we really have to take the entire quinquenniwn to carry out this
process calmly in firm and sure foundations.

The objective that must never be forgotten for a single second is the
increase in quality. It is the idea of passing along with quality. In this
way, there will be passing with quality. This idea will be a principle, but
at the same time there should also be the idea that quality is preferable
to passing even though the ideal thing would be to have the greatest number
pass. We must not lose sleep over the idea that some of the students, for
whatever reason, will not pass and that they must repeat the courses. We
should not and must not lose sleep over this. In no way should the ideal
aspiration of the highest number of passings conspire against the quality
of education and the quality of the evaluation. We already passed through
such an experience. If we do not reach 90, [not further specified] we do
not reach 90; if we do not reach 89, we do not reach 89. We will reach
where we should reach applying the principle of quality in education in a
rational manner.

It is possible that if we improve our work we may attain higher quality
promotions. I do not think we should work toward 1987 or 1988; I believe we
should work toward the 4th congress, so that at the 4th congress education
can report to the party and the country on what it has accomplished to
overcome those criticisms that were made at the 3d congress and what has
been done to overcome those negative trends and errors. [applause] There is
not much time, but I believe it is enough to work firmly and in depth and
continue perfecting our system, of perfecting the educational system. The
idea was that everything we did had to be constantly analyzed and improved.
The concept of improvement includes the concept of constant betterment of
the system, and they believe that now we have to perfect the system. We
have to improve on what we have established. I believe we should take the
time to work hard, analyzing all that has been said and all the measures
taken. Time is needed to digest all that has been agreed upon. I was
speaking with Fernandez, and I suggested that we should hold another
meeting next year just as we are doing with workers, hospitals, or take
more time. [sentence as heard] We reached the conclusion that we should
meet next in 1989, not in 1988. By that time we should have properly
analyzed solutions. [30 second break in reception] We should shed aside all
defeatist ideas, all beliefs that it is impossible to overcome this
difficulty despite its complexity. We must work toward the quinquennial;
work to resolve many of these improvement problems by 1989. That is all --
2 years. We must also adjust the evaluation to the quality and quantity of
education, as was agreed at the congress, and to adopt all necessary
measures without fear of probing, experimenting -- no one can claim to have
the absolute answer. I think that this meeting has been very positive and
has given us the opportunity to openly discuss these topics, to suggest
solutions and even reach some solutions. There will be material problems.
We were saying here that we thought a school of 1,700 students might prove
too big and one of 1,000 or 1,200 might be better. We could face the task
of building some of these schools (words indistinct] special ones. Havana
itself has 25-school program: 5,000 students. It is estimated that there is
a need for more than 70,000 students in specialized schools. We have to
build them. Some students have behavior problems, others have mental
problems of one type or another, physical limitations -- in many cases they
are indeed physical limitations.

Havana must have all the specialized schools it needs in 2 years. Havana
will jump ahead of the other provinces by 1 year.

I once asked that a study be made of the number of specialized schools
needed. I think it was about 200. We hope to carry out a similar plan to
the one we did this year for Havana, to solve the problem for the rest of
the country by the year 1988, using microbrigades. We want to draw up a
plan for building specialized schools using microbrigades in the remaining
provinces of the country. If there are that many needed we could work out a
3-year plan, or 4 or 5-year plans, and when we attend the 4th congress we
will be able to say that all the country's needs for specialized schools
have been satisfied. I do not know what will happen to the thousands of
children that need these types of schools and instead are mainstreamed with
other students. I can imagine that our country can do this, whatever the
economic difficulties may be. Our country has strength and energy, although
that rectification process is using up a lot of material resources. When I
talk about microbrigades I mean rationalizing labor forces. I am not
talking about their work; we can do this further down the road. I am
talking about padded payrolls and too many factory employees. I am talking
about the extra workers.

This rectification process, which covers many areas of our economy and
society, can provide resources that could help us fulfill those material
needs. It is clear.

In our meeting with university students, we discussed the problems related
to the construction of the teachers' school such as the unfinished
installations in Manzanillo. We even said that with the help of microgroups
[micro unidades] we could start the construction of the higher institute of
that place, of GRANMA in Manzanillo this year, because we were informed of
the poor material conditions of those students, of those students [repeats

We can promote the completion of all those unfinished installations and
provide the necessary materials for the education of the teaching body as a
contribution to the ambitious, super ambitious, program to upgrade the
teaching body.

We agreed...[changes thought] when the issue was discussed at the congress
of the Federation of University Students, the topic was the problem of the
requirements to enroll in teachers' schools. At that meeting, we concluded
that we had no reason to go crazy trying to enroll 7,000 students in those
schools. It was said that there was a certain number of students who, not
having any other alternatives, chose teaching careers -- or rather entered
teachers' schools.

We flatly said that it did not have to be 7,000 people, that it could be
6,000, 5,000, or 4,000 people who had a true teaching vocation. We are not
facing a desperate situation if we consider the large number of people who
are enrolled in teachers' schools. We wanted to be categorical on that. You
know that I have suggested having teachers in reserve, but we did not set
the date for the creation of those reserves. We would rather take longer in
applying those dreams, dreams that will come true...[changes thought]
because in addition to the current upgrading programs for teachers, we can
establish an optimum system for a continuing upgrading of teachers,
including sabbatical years, etc. We need to have teachers in reserve to
establish that system, but we do not have to set a definite date or a
definite deadline for the creation of that reserve of teachers. Above all,
we are interested in the quality of those who enroll in our teachers'

We should apply that same principle to elementary schools. We should be
more concerned about the quality than the quantity of students who enter
elementary schools. Those youths who have a real vocation [3-second break
in reception] for education.

Are there or are there not subjective conditions for our teachers and
professors to emphasize quality, to fight and win this battle? What trials
have our teachers and professors not been capable of facing? Here we had
[words indistinct]. Thousands of elementary-school teachers and professors
have accomplished internationalist missions. If our data is correct, over
20,000 teachers and professors have completed internationalist missions,
over 20,000. As I have said on other occasions, when Nicaragua needed
teachers approximately 30,000 teachers registered. When the mercenary bands
at the service of imperialism killed some of our teachers, approximately
100,000 teachers registered to go there. Our teachers wrote indelible pages
of self-denial, heroism, courage, and sacrifice. They won the admiration of
our people and of other peoples.

Our teachers have accomplished internationalist missions wherever they have
been needed. They went to Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia -- anywhere. They
always gave a brave and worthy response. They accomplished very difficult
missions; they experienced hard times. They participated in those missions
at a time when the revolution did not have teachers, when our country did
not even have enough teachers to send to the Cuban mountains. Today I can
speak about over 20,000 teachers and professors who have accomplished
internationalist missions. How can we fail to fight and win this battle?

This has been a trial period. It has been very difficult for teachers and
professors, for the teaching body in general. It has been a period for
criticism. This period has been difficult for everybody, for workers,
peasants, students, youths, party militants, and all intellectual workers.

I know that teachers have reacted with dignity, honor, and modesty, because
they reflect the spirit of the majority of our instructors, professors, and
teachers. There is a minority not fully aware of its duties and
responsibilities; however, that should not discourage us because a crowd of
young well-educated people will follow.

Even if we are selective, several thousand students will enter these
education centers every year. Those who do not have the true vocation to be
teachers will be left behind. Those who do not deserve the honor of that
immense responsibility will be leaving their ranks. Ranks will be purged in
the education sector, and we will retain only the best. Fortunately, they
will be the majority of our instructors, professors and teachers.

No one should be discouraged, on the contrary, we have many reasons to feel
optimistic and encouraged. Those of you who are here are the backbone of
our educational system. You, directors of all higher education centers
here, the 500 directors of primary schools, the hundreds of education
cadres working in the central organization and in the provinces, have an
important role in this battle. You must convey the spirit now that you are
leaving this event, you must convey this to the tens of thousands, rather
to the hundreds of thousands of professors and teachers the subjects
discussed here, the spirit with which we analyzed the problems here, the
solutions we found and tried to find to many of these problems, and the
purpose of working hard until each difficulty is resolved. You must return
to work with optimism -- because there were some gloomy times that hindered
our view of the future. We feel that the path is clearing, that the future
looks better and more secure.

I hope that when a new poll is conducted the number of skeptics will be
less than 27 percent, and that more than 70 percent of the education
workers will have a more positive attitude, because there is no place in
our ranks -- the ranks of the men and women of a nation who have set a
great destiny -- for the skeptical and defeatist. [applause] There is no
place for defeatist and negative attitudes in the ranks of our instructors,
professors, and teachers who have taught and brought education in our
country to very high levels. There is no place for pessimists in the ranks
of our revolutionary people who have written glorious chapters. There is no
place the history of this hemisphere and of the Third World nations for
defeatist or pessimistic people. [applause]

We are sure that you will bring a new, revolutionary spirit to all the
provinces, a spirit of struggle, and the conviction that as many of you
have said, instructors, professors, and teachers united with the government
and party will know how to wage and win this battle.

Fatherland or death, we will win. [applause]