Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro at 12th National Seminar on Education
PA2702193689 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 0406 GMT 26 Feb 89

[Speech by President Fidel Castro at the closing ceremony of the 12th
National Seminar on Education; date and place not given]

[Text] Comrades, I think this should be a brief ceremony.  You have been
holding discussions for 3 days, and I think that you have done a good job.
You deserve to be set free so that you can go and do your jobs.

I cannot say that I know all about what you have been discussing and
analyzing.  I can only say that I have skimmed the report you have
analyzed. I believe [Education Minister Jose Ramon] Fernandez will send me
a synopsis of it.  Everytime he sends me a synopsis of something, he sends
me about 60 pages.  [laughter] He does this at any hour of the day or
night.  It could be in the wee hours of the morning.  Well, I take it and
read it quickly.

I had an opportunity to participate in the debates for a few hours, and I
think I have an idea of the results of the seminar.  I think they are good.

In this era of so much criticism and self-criticism, one almost has to
apologize to say that something is good.

I sense a good attitude within the education sector. If we take into
consideration that a similar meeting was held only 2 years ago and that not
much time has passed, it seems to me that it can be said that great
progress has been made between the 11th and the 12th seminars.

I cannot say that much about the debates because they were not mentioned in
the report I read.  I am going to talk about what I perceived here at the
meeting.  However, the report covering the past 2 years is positive.

I think that progress has been made in many areas.  This was evident here,
to a certain extent, in this afternoon's meeting--if we were to analyze
certain aspects, for example.  These were matters that were a big problem 2
years ago.

There were talks, for example, on special education.  I see that we are
advancing quickly in this area.  In a relatively short time, we will have
the 80,000 students registered, which is the number we said was necessary.
We must not get discouraged because the comrades of Pinar del Rio said
that they have [words indistinct].  Do not go around believing that things
are achieved easily.  Do not go around believing that if we want to, we can
solve this or that problem easily, or that if we want to, we can easily
build a school of one kind or another.

We have to fight hard to get these things.  I follow principle of not
getting discouraged.

That is why one has to follow certain regulations.  I have always carried
out a number of economic projects, especially projects that constitute a
means of saving foreign exchange or generating convertible foreign
exchange. Other economic projects have also been carried out because we
cannot get careless about the country's economic development, and with our
very limited resources, economic projects are considered priorities.

Construction and food production are considered very high priorities
because of their importance.  We have carried out a number of really
ambitious food production programs and some very ambitious economic
programs as well.  We have been forced to give certain projects priority
over others.  I may, perhaps, have failed to make a thorough, in-depth
review of all our projects.  I am more familiar with issues pertaining to
Havana, but I do not know what this year's plans are for child care
centers, special schools, or medical clinics in the rest of the country.

However, I believe that the comrades in the party have favored these plans
because, after broadly analyzing the policy we have followed in the
construction field, I asked the comrades on the board to discuss the plans
with each one of the provinces to determine what projects had been given
priority, and to determine the new priorities without sacrificing the
projects already under way so that they would not be too adversely
affected.  I also asked them to discuss construction plans for social works
with each one of the provinces.  I have not seen them, but I am sure that
the provinces must have supported them.

Of course, among the social works, we have given priority to housing, and
at the same time we have also included child care centers, special schools,
and other necessary projects.  I do not have all the details, but I will
try to look into this as soon as possible.

We still have some funds.  There are still some reserves, so I do not
believe construction plans lack money.  It is possible that some of the
projects already approved have not yet been started in some provinces, and
maybe that is why there are no special schools in Pinar del Rio.  However,
I will continue fighting for that program.  I will do everything I can,
without sacrificing other things that are more urgent at this time.

The housing program is the second priority, and it should be complemented
with social works.  We must build child care centers, schools, and medical

The situation is different in Havana, where 110 child care centers have
been built in 2 years.  You can see that it was an effort.  No child care
centers had been built in Havana before those 110.  Even if the state and
the party thought that a child care center was urgently needed and should
be built, it was not possible because there was no labor force. However,
with the creation of the microbrigades, we have the necessary labor force.