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 discussion 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
analysing.  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 analyse
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 the 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 build in 2 years.  You can see that it was an effort.  No child care
centers had been build 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.

We had planned to build five child care centers over a 5-year period, and
the construction had not even begun.  Nevertheless, we have build 110 of
these centers in 2 years, because we acquired the labor force.  The
production of material has increased, but we have such a big labor force
that we still do not have enough material, although we are creating
thousands of production lines for all kinds of material.  We will have the
material we need, so you can rest assured that none of these programs will
be sacrificed.

The demand in Havana was for facilities that could handle 19,500 children,
and we built centers to handle as many as 24,000 children in 2 years.  That
is why we said that the program in Havana was for five child care centers,
which does not mean that it must be for five in the rest of the country, as
the needs may be greater elsewhere.  Havana has made great progress with
this program.

As for the medical clinics program in Havana, it will be completed this
year.  There is no need for more medical clinics.  That is why no new
medical clinics will be built in Havana this year, but those already
started will be finished.

We had planned to build 24 special schools in Havana, all of which will be
ready this year.  There will be no more special school programs for Havana.
Child care centers will be build as required.

In Havana, we have in mind a project that will be delayed a bit.  This
program concerns mainly the secondary schools and primary schools.  In
Havana, we have begun to contemplate a problem from another angle.  How
many old schools are there that are inadequate, that have too many students
per classroom, and that lack proper ventilation?  We intend, within a
period of [word indistinct] years, to build all the primary and secondary
schools that the capital needs.  Primary schools will have semiboarding
houses, and the secondary schools we build will also have them.  The
problems that mothers have with their children when they are 3 or 4 years
old are the same as when they are 6 or 7 years old.  And the problems that
mothers have with their 11-year-old child are the same as when the child is
12 and begins his secondary education.

We are viewing all these future needs in order to be able to meet them
completely.  Of course, we will need funds and food, and therefore, anyone
can understand why we give priority at this time to any food production
program, or any economic development plan.

Regarding the child care centers, we feel that these are excellent
institutions, and we believe that some day, when possible, these centers
should not be for the children of working mothers alone, but for all

This will not be mandatory, of course, because [words indistinct] in a care
center?  However, it is unjust--or painful, if you like--to have children
who go to care centers and others who do not.

Children who go to a care center are better developed and attain higher
intellectual development because they are at an age when the mind can still
be developed whereas in their homes--no matter how well they are treated
and no matter how well educated they are--do not get the attention they
would get at a care center--to live the life they would live at a care
center, get encouragement they would get at a care center, or meet the
professors and specialists they would meet at a care center.  Perhaps not
all the necessary resources are available, but the children's intelligence
is developed at the care centers.  We do this to fulfill the working
mothers needs, and we will do it for all the children--possibly all the
children, meaning those who want it.

All mothers will want their children to go to the child care centers.  But
that will be at another stage when our country has more resources.  The
care centers will be improved.  I have a very good impression of the care
center we dedicated.  The staff members are very young and have been well
trained.  The results of good education are very evident there.  Here in
Havana, a tremendous effort was made to train the care center staffs.  A
course was given to all the personnel, the aides, and the teachers.  The
child care center staffs received the best training.

There are music teachers, and despite not receiving very specialized
training, they are undoubtedly performing their jobs extremely well.  They
have a true teaching vocation.  I can very well imagine what could be
achieved with these new programs in the arts sector of the Education
Ministry.  The director, assistant director, the care center staffs, and so
many more give such a good impression.  They are devoted.  In the care
centers, we have reduced the staff from a little over 50 to 48.

We are very demanding in this regard, as this is a very delicate job.  We
did not want there to be a personnel shortage at the care centers.  If the
centers lack personnel, the teachers must work long hours.  Because it
involves working with children, this is an area that has lacked
supervision.  We must also think of another member of the care center--the
doctor.  This year, there will be about 12 doctors.  There are
approximately 400 doctors in the communities, with over 100 in the care
centers, the schools, and the factories.

This concept of the family doctor includes the schools, the care centers,
and the factories.  The concept [words indistinct].  That is why priority
has been given to the community.  However, even the [words indistinct], and
this is the house of the doctors and nurses, and building 600 of these is a
very serious affair.  It is best to have about 450.  But this year, or by
the end of the year--in the last three months--there will dozens of doctors
assigned to the care centers.

Therefore, the care centers will have nurses and doctors.  The doctors will
be specialized in general practice, but they will have completed theirs
studies like the others, and it is probable that many of them will later
want to become pediatricians.  The care centers will be improved. I have
high hopes for the care centers, and [words indistinct] that accumulation
of needs resulting from very specific criteria.  The care center was like a
social expense.  However, education is also a social expense.  There is
[words indistinct] of education, and the expenses are [words indistinct].

The care centers liberate over 200 mothers.  These mothers are
well-trained, considering that women compose a major portion of the
nation's technical forces.  These women are teachers, ministers, skilled
workers, and trained doctors and nurses.  When a care center is created,
its service are placed at the disposal of the mothers.  The mothers of
these children and the children themselves receive extraordinary benefits.
The care centers should no longer have a long list of needs [words
indistinct] a center.  Many of them were old.  Today the care centers have
been standardized, and, as you well know, they handle 210 children.  It
will not be long now before all primary schools will have adequate

All secondary schools will have adequate facilities, too.  Right now there
is only a shortage of space at the pre-university level.  There are serious
problems in this regard in the capital.  Last year, we tried to build two
pre-university schools in the interior, but we had problems obtaining
prefabricated materials.  We are planning to begin the construction of two
more schools.  We have to build approximately 30 schools in the
interior--mostly in Havana Province--to accommodate the students in the
capital.  We have thought of having the microbrigades build them.  In the
future, all our schools throughout the country, no matter what kind, will
be provided with adequate facilities.

Today you have all heard that we are in favor of new projects.  You also
found out there are already four different projects to build vocational
schools.  For years our country had been building elementary, secondary,
pre-university, vocational, and even sports and [words indistinct]
schools--all kinds of schools--in the interior.  We had also begun to build
art schools.  However, between 1975 and 1976--and we could say this was due
to erroneous and bureaucratic reasons--construction was paralyzed.  This
affected construction projects considerably.

Today, the construction sector has recovered with full force and capacity.
In fact, I would say it has recovered with a greater force than it ever had
before.  We have had microbrigades in the past, but we never had
microbrigade contingents.  Nowadays, there are 15,000 workers enlisted in
microbrigade contingents.  They work with impressive devotion and are
making headway very quickly.  Interestingly enough, the noncontingency
brigades are now beginning to imitate their counterparts by working
overtime and trying to achieve great speed and productivity in their

I think the construction field, whose force and capacity was once at a
standstill, is making a very strong comeback.  We will have the necessary
materials and installations we need--even those installations Fernandez
and I spoke about.  I cannot say this will happen right away.  We need to
make an effort to unite the three provinces where the situation is said to
be the most difficult so they can begin to build their facilities.  They
will have to plant this construction in such a way that the facilities can
begin to be used once 2 or 3 million [currency not specified] have been
spent, rather than waiting until the buildings are finished to use them.
We will ensure that these educational facilities will be built.  I will
select two other provinces and speak to their leaders and to the people of
these provinces to see what is needed to begin building these facilities.

Therefore, I see that we will provide preschool, elementary, and secondary
education with a material basis.  Yet this material basis is not the most
important element.  The schools' personnel, the people who work in these
institutions, is the most important element.  I feel our prospects are
encouraging in this regard.  But rather than elaborating on this topic,
perhaps it would be better to continue pointing out some of the issues we
discussed here, such as the problem of childcare centers and special
education schools.

We should take pride in our country's special education program.  We will
finally be able to meet 100 percent of our needs in this area.  I am not
aware of any country that has met 100 percent of its special education
needs.  As for the schools, they will not be located in buildings adapted
for this purpose.  We will build new specially designed facilities for
these schools.  We will build all the different kinds of special education
schools we need.

I have seen some of the schools, such as the school for the visually
impaired.  It is marvelous.  It is not just a school;  it is a hospital.
It does not only educate children who have problems; it also solves the
children's problems by treating them.  I have visited correctional schools.
I have also visited schools for the mentally retarded.  I truly think that
these schools will serve as the primary tool in performing an extraordinary
humane task.  Anyone can imagine how much suffering is experienced by a
family with a child who has such problems.  Anyone can imagine it.  Any
sensitive person suffers when he sees such cases.

The day I went to the Cuito Cuanavale school.  I wondered... [changes
thought] I was later told that across the street there was a school for the
mentally retarded.  Visiting this kind of school is even more painful than
visiting a correctional school.  In a correctional school, it is simply a
matter of educating the student.  I was very interested in finding out how
the school influences its students.  The teachers there are very
intelligent.  They are researching what factors--including social
factors--may have contributed to the students' hyperactivity and the
irritable tempers some of them exhibit.

The boys are given activities here.  Some of them are irritable.  However,
the important thing is that [word indistinct] the school resolves those
problems.  The day I went to the school [words indistinct] and later passed
through another one.  I though about how different their style is from the
style of capitalism.  What would the destiny be of these children in other
countries (?other than) in Latin America?  What would the destiny be of
these children who have a provincial background?  What about their
psyschological development?  What would the destiny be of these children
who have flunked school there to try to overcome these problems.  What
would the destiny be of these children, if they could not read or work?
What would their destiny be under capitalism?  Who knows how much
suffering, of all types, they would face?  In many cases, if they have
limitations or physical--seeing or hearing--handicaps, they end up as
beggars. Or if they have [word indistinct] limitations, they end up as
beggars or criminals.  One can see this very consonant with society, he
ends up as a criminal, I am convinced of this.

That is why I see another role in the schools, in education, in our
education system.  Education is meant to eradicate criminality in our
society.  The eradication of criminality in our society does not depend on
repressive factors.  Society punishes, and sometimes rewards, criminal and
antisocial behavior.  I am sure education must fundamentally liberate
society from criminality.  I am sure we have had an experience that
possibly no country in the community has had with these special schools.
You can check this out.  In any event, these are factors to consider.  In
some cases, there can be organic, physiological factors.  Often a good
home does the job of a good school.  There are many children from good
homes who resolve their problems without the need of a special school.
However, nobody can guarantee all the homes can be described as good homes,
homes that are prepared to educate children.  Therefore, the social reality
determines the need to give all those children the treatment they need.

During my meeting with the police at the Interior Ministry, I stated the
fight against delinquency begins at infancy.  There is reason for us to
have a little hope.  Our hope is based, not on dreams and illusions, but on
research and indicates that all children with those kinds of problems have
difficulties and problems at home--cases like the ones mentioned by
Fernandez, where either the father or the mother is absent, or where
neither of the parents is present.  I believe that in a relatively short
period of time, we will have more students filing the 80,000 available
spaces.  Doubtless, we will become the world leader in this field and will
accumulate an incredible amount of experience.  Our comrade from Pinar del
Rio explained she has been to different countries and feels [words
indistinct] about what Cuba is achieving, in terms of diagnosis [words
indistinct].  These are facts.

What an impressive number of specialists--more than 100--provided by just 6
people:  600 people just (?for diagnostics).  [sentence as heard]  What
other society do you know that has such a large number of specialists
dedicated to the function of a specific problem such as this.  That is, our
society [word indistinct] the battle against illiteracy.  [Words
indistinct] but those schools are very important.  There should be a
special effort made to train the personnel who will work in those schools.
A great effort should be made to build those schools; nothing is achieved
without a struggle.  You can be certain we will wage a struggle [words
indistinct] the greatest number of schools with all the appropriate
resources.  Let us see if [words indistinct] let us see if we can now begin
building the first trade schools.  You know that a trade school can spare
society many serious problems.  What is the fate of those boys?  Who knows
why they left school, what social factors, what personality factors, or
what congenital factors led those boys to leave school and work.

If society does not care for, educate, orient, and train those 20,000 or
30,000 young people, what will become of them?  What will be the destiny of
those adolescents and youths if we do not seek a solution to the problem
through the trade schools in order to reach the level required by our

There has been talk about technological schools here.  I think the news is
very good.  The comrade who spoke on behalf of the Cuban-Soviet Friendship
School really brought us an optimistic message concerning the substantial
progress that has been made in that area over the past 2 years--about what
the technological schools are doing, what their projections are, and how
ties are established.  He confirmed the very good news I had already
received about the meeting among all institutions and the spirit of
cooperation among them.  Two or 3 years ago our young students were almost
kicked out of the factories.  Because of a mercantilist spirit, a lack of a
sense of responsibility, and capitalist behavior, the young technological
students--the young university students--were looked upon as a roadblock
when they actually constitute, can constitute, and constitute... [Castro
repeats himself] extraordinary support for the factories.  They can help
the factories resolve many problems.

In addition, the future workers of that same factory are going to be
trained there.  There was no sense in rejecting them or in this lack of
cooperation.  It was real madness, typical of capitalism.  We could not
imagine we were in a socialist state.  The factories were rejecting the
students when their obligation should have been, among other things, to
assist in their education within a socialist concept, not a capitalist one.

I have also learned that excellent relations have developed between the
technological schools and the institutions through teacher exchanges.
Teachers go to the factories, and factory technicians go the the schools.
The same thing has happened with the universities, because we had the same
problems.  University students were rejected.  The universities wanted to
use the students to sweep floors.  That is what they were supposed to be
useful for.  Any job in the factory [word indistinct] had to do with the
profession of the boy.  Educational units have been created in the
factories.  This movement has emerged at the university, and it is a
serious, considerable advance and an improvement over the situation we had
some time ago.  Those boys are already producing in the workshops of the
technological institutes and are helping the new factories.

A consciousness is being created.  What the comrade said is very important.
He said the fundamental thing was to instill in the youths a workers'
conscience, a revolutionary conscience.  I asked how many youths we have at
the technological schools and was told we have over 200,000.  This is a
tremendous force of tremendous strength.  If we continue on the right path,
in the right direction, imagine what we can achieve.

There has been talk here about the schools of exact sciences.  This is
really a very important step in education.  In our country we have
talked...[changes thought]  In higher education we have already adopted the
system of competition, including tests in almost all careers, even
medicine, which adopted this system this year.

This is another important breakthrough.  We have tried to find a fair
mechanism that will give opportunities not only to students of exact
sciences, but to students of rural and urban schools in which there are
excellent collectives and extraordinary boys.  This year we decided to
lower from 60 to 50 percent the part dependent on testing.  All this is
aimed at establishing a certain degree of equal opportunity for the best
students who are not in schools of exact sciences.

There has been talk here about the computer program.  A few years ago the
universities had no computer training programs.  They did not teach the
subject.  Many engineers and architects who have already graduated are now
receiving computer training.  So, for example, the Association of
Architects...[changes thought]  Computer courses are being given in all
associations of architects and engineers and in (?project) enterprises,
because one has to see how a computer can boost a project's and an
engineer's productivity.

Of course, we had not yet been above to introduce computer training at the
universities.  During the last few years we have quickly included computer
training courses in all university curricula.  But, not satisfied with
that, we are already including... [changes thought]  We have made
considerable progress with computer training not only in schools of exact
sciences but in the universities and secondary schools.  Soon, we will
also have computer training in 100 percent of middle education schools.

We logically began at the teachers' schools.  We had to make a great effort
to train the personnel who would, in turn, be doing this training.
Therefore, these are important steps.  We do not want to be too hasty
regarding primary schools.  We must see to what extent computer training
must be introduced there.  I know there are some international programs.
We must not be too hasty.  We must weight this possibility well and see to
what extent such training helps the students' development.  If it is shown
that the introduction of computer training in primary schools assists the
education and development of the students, we will introduce it also in
primary education.  Thus, we can review one by one all those fields in
which we have made progress over the past 2 years.

The report mentioned many other things, thus constituting a very serious
effort.  It included every aspect of education and everything associated
with improving the education system.  The major benefits here are the
results of implementing improvement plans or of new ideas in the 1st year.
I hope next year we will be able to have good news on the introduction of
these innovations in other levels and grades.

We also discussed here ideas about training personnel.  It was pleasing to
hear the comments about the programs that are being implemented to train
primary school teachers--in a broader sense--and secondary school teachers
in the field of art education.  It is also very encouraging to think we
have begun to march on the path to where primary school teacher candidates
will begin their studies with a 12th-grade, 12th-grade [repeats himself]
education.  You will recall that in the early years of the revolution,
students entered teaching schools with a 6th-grade education.  Later, we
moved it up to 9 years of study.  It is a colossal breakthrough to say
that in a few years, all of them will enter these schools with a 12th-grade
education.  If the progress reflected in the figure of 10,000 university
graduates in primary school education  in colossal, the 42,000 additional
students who are studying for a degree in primary school education--8,000
of whom are studying full time--also indicate a colossal breakthrough.
With that figure we are going to receive a [word indistinct] of
appropriately implemented ideas.  It is even more incredible that our
country's future primary school teachers will receive a university degree
in primary school education.  When we achieve that, and we will, I would
like to know, for the sake of comparison, if any other country will have
made a similar achievement.  I would like to know if another country can
say that its primary school teachers are university graduates; if any other
country can say that, soon all those entering the university to get a
degree in primary school education will do so with a 12th-grade education.
I think this can be said only in very special places.  This is the result
of our effort and work.  We are doing the same in other fields.  We began
to do that in the field of nursing.  The nursing students also once entered
with a 9th-grade education.  They almost brought their dolls to the
hospital.  Now they enter with a 12th-grade education.  In the future,
students entering nursing school will attend the school of medicine.  They
will also receive university degrees in nursing.  All of this represents a
considerable breakthrough in the training of teachers.

Also, combining practice with formal education is not new to us.  When it
became necessary to train teachers in intermediate level education because
of the explosion in the student population at that level, we combined study
and work.  This way, we worked out many things.  Today, we now
really...[changes thought]  Students enter pedagogical institutes to be
trained as primary and secondary teachers and as preuniversity
[preuniversitarios] teachers.  However, the teaching at the pedagogical
schools, which are not pedagogical universities, or university
faculties...[changes thought]  This happened gradually; this cannot happen
from one year to the next.  The combination of study and practice is very
important.  We talked about that when we reviewed these concepts with the
comrades at the Education Ministry, at the Federation of Intermediate Level
Students, and the youth groups.  We even calculated how many students
attend Havana schools.  We calculated how many would enter those schools.
We calculated how many university students would be helping the teachers or
helping the primary school teachers.  How many primary school?  If we begin
from the 3d year, how many students would there be in a school for 300
students?  No, I do not mean how many students but how many university
students would be practicing teachers?  How many university students would
be practicing teaching from the 3d year on?  They are a tremendous help to
schools.  A tremendous help to school [Castro repeats himself].  The
participation of that group of students is a tremendous help to schools, it
helps them.  The principle of combining studies with practice is important
and basic to us.  Development programs are a great help, and (?I believe in
those programs.)  After we have thousands of people with university degrees
in primary education, what are we going to do with them?  They must
continue to study and improve themselves.  They must continue their
education.  In this respect, Education Minister Jose Ramon Fernandez is

He is very strict and demanding at his schools and institutes in Ciego de
Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, Guatanamo--which one am I missing?  and
Guantanamo, but I already mentioned it!  Yes, Las Tunas!  I forgot Las
Tunas.  What would that man [not further identified] from Pinar del Rio
had said if we omitted the Isle of Youth.  He once though we had mistakenly
erased the Isle of Youth from the map.  No one knew what he was complaining
about since the largest pedagogical institute was being built on that
island.  The island was not so forgotten after all.  Anyway, we cannot
forget about Las Tunas.

I said the future outlook justifies those institutions.  I do not think we
will ever have a surplus.  There will be a surplus of some things.  [Words
indistinct] while we were talking with the Casa de las Americas directors
the other day.  They said, yes, they had to give some drama courses with
the aid of the university over there in Machurucuto.  I said the name
Machurucuto sounded familiar.  It sounded familiar to me not only because
of Che.  What little town did we name Machuructo?  We gave the town of Nina
Bonita the name of Machurucuto.  It was the first town we named near
Havana.  I also remember we built a veterinary facility.  It had a
livestock [words indistinct].  Then, all sorts of possibilities emerged
and Machurucuto [words indistinct] a university boarding house.  Not
Machurucuto, not the town, but the former veterinary facility.  It was not
really built for that purpose.

However, it is now clear that that building had an important use.  The
university is putting it to good use; it is sharing it with the Casa del la
Americas.  [Words indistinct] what were once university buildings are now
providing a great service for all sorts of meetings, conferences, and
classes.  I mean, I do not think we ever have too many buildings.  Life
shows we can never have too many buildings.

Just look at those branches [filiales].  I remember when I argued with
Fernandez about the branches.  At first it was said that [words indistinct]
would be branches, and it had only been 2 or 3 years when they said they
needed a huge pedagogical institute.  He says they are all full, and that
is true; all of the installations are full.  We have certainly build a lot
of schools, but they are not enough.

I would say that right now Havana needs more schools.  Schools are needed
for the students who are completing their military service.  I have never
seen too many schools or installations.  That is why I believe there could
be certain things that may be more urgent than others.  That is what
happened to the medical schools.  It took too long to build them, and now
that they are being built we are going to start restricting entry to
medical school.

Regardless of how ambitious our health plans are, in the year 2000 we are
going to have more doctors than needed.  However, we must continue with
improvement courses, with studies.  We have tens of thousands of university
graduates, and I believe the pedagogical institutes are good bases for
this.  I think we must have these institutes in every province.

There are many other ideas, and we have mentioned these.  Now we have a
reserve, and we have already mentioned this.  Dreams have come true.
Today, we have a reserve of 18,000 teacher.  That is the reason why there
are 8,000 teachers going full time to the university to earn bachelors'
degrees.  That is why there are thousands of teachers studying physics,
art, or mathematics to become professors of physics and mathematics;
studying to become art professors.  I believe that our reserves of teachers
and professors should continue growing.  We should have a reserve of 40,000
in the future.  That would allow us to have a sabbatical year after all of
them have earned their bachelors' degrees by going to the university full
time.  When all of those who are now in the university have graduated, then
we can do these things.  The sabbatical year will be a reality, and it will
be the result of rationality.  Socialism is a society that is able to
organize things in a rational manner, where there is not excessive
bureaucracy, where everyone is well trained, where everyone works on one
thing or another.  Socialism is a society that produces and distributes its
production among all.  It is a society that has a minimum of bureaucracy
and unnecessary jobs, and produces many necessary things.  For example,
there is the family doctor.  What is better?  To have 20,000 or 40,000
persons in useless activities, such as in the capitalist world, where one
does not even know how many people are engaged in useless activities?  In
socialism this also happens, but over there it happens for one reason, and
over here for another reason.  In socialism, this happens out of
ineptitude, paternalism, and a lack of imagination on the part of the
leaders.  However, instead of those 40,000 being unemployed or being
included on padded payrolls, these people could be trained to become
doctors or teachers or family doctors.

These are the examples I like to mention, because it is evidence of what
can be done through the rationality of socialism.  After all, those
unemployed people always find someone who will support them when they need
to eat, dress, travel.  Instead of being unemployed, those people could
become doctors or nurses in the community--that would be beautiful.  Or
they could be working in a child care center, a school, or a factory.

Therefore, it is not a dream when I talk about a sabbatical year in the
future for doctors, professors, and teachers, I hope we can give a
sabbatical year to all university graduates.  Yes, it is perfectly possible
if society is well organized, if there is high productivity.  High
productivity is achieved through techniques and knowledge, with machinery,
and even with robots.  Our country already has a center for the development
of robots.  See how advanced we are?  We still have some surplus [word
indistinct] in some places.  This is no dream, and it is not too far away.
Perhaps, we might begin with the teachers, because there is where we have
the largest reserve.  Doctors will have to wait longer, or perhaps the
engineers, the architect, the economists.  They must first have a reserve,
so they can have their year of study.  The truth is that in this modern
world, one cannot stop studying.  It is great that after 7 years a person
will have a full year to study.

Therefore, all of these institutions are going to be very useful and
necessary.  We have 270,000 professors and teachers today; we would only
need 300,000.  If we always had 300,000 professors and teachers, and if
40,000 of them would be in the reserves, we would always have 40,000
teachers in improvement programs.  The evidence is so great that I am the
one looking for the arguments so that we will definitely construct those
buildings.  We have 40,000 teachers in improvement programs.  If we improve
the system, if we manage to carry out this program, we will carry out these
ideas, which are not dreams.

In other times these were dreams, but not today.  Now these are
revolutionary and socialist possibilities.  I therefore believe that our
country's educational system has a brilliant future.  True, the educational
system had problems. We rested somewhat on our laurels; we fell into a rut.
We cannot say that this only happened to the educational system.  I regret
to have to say that the entire country fell into a rut--some sectors more
than others.  Even the health system fell into a rut.  I met with hospital
medical directors here in the capital because our health services were also
falling into a rut--everything was falling into a rut.

We had much success, but we rested on our laurels.  Honestly speaking, we
woke up and we were determined to change.  We went through difficult time
while trying to find the correct solution to our problems.  We had problems
with our graduating classes; we either had too many students graduating or
too few, an imbalance that threatened to overload some schools.  We thought
hard, reasoned, and analyzed.  Formulas were sought that would not,
under any circumstances, sacrifice quality.  I believe we are on the right
track now.

I believe these last 2 years have been fruitful.  I believe this seminar
has been truly historic due to all the things analyzed and achieve, thanks
to the country's support.  Of course, when we speak of special schools,
these did not depend on the educational sector, instead they depended on
the support the country could give to these institutions.  Childcare
centers did not depend on what the teachers needed, instead they depended
on the support the country was able to give them.  Likewise, considerable
assistance has been given for many things.

Of course, we have again begun to analyze this; these things are being
debated.  They have even been debated in this seminar.  This seminar is
really more like a congress.  I have though about how often these seminars
should be held.  We used to hold these seminars once a year.  I believe it
would be better if we held these seminars every 2 years.  This would allow
more time to draft plans and programs and to put policies into effect.  We
should therefore hold our next seminar in 1991.  This is very good, and we
shall then see how much we have advanced in these 2 years and how we should
continue consolidating these policies.  We cannot afford to rest on our
laurels again.  The country cannot and the education sector can even less
afford to do so.

I get the impression that we are developing valuable ideas in this field,
that we are profiting from important experiences, that we have personnel
who are more and more experienced, capable, and responsible.  Many valuable
experiences have been given to us through all these years.  I believe that
we are only just developing our experience.  We have become more mature.
The revolution was precocious in educational matters and has brought many
new things.

The important thing is the confidence we have in our ability to develop our
experiences and ideas.  I really do believe we are accumulating fabulous
experiences in all fields.  We are headed toward the development of an
exceptional educational system.  It is up to us, and I believe our
experience is going to be very useful to other people.

It would not be an exaggeration to talk of an educational power, if we want
to, we could become an educational power.  We have all the right
conditions.  It does not matter that there are still some limitations or
that we may still lack some laboratories to complete the network.  It does
not matter we may still lack some supplies and certain resources.  We shall
obtain them eventually.  There will come a day when we shall have them all
if we are constant and if we persevere.  There will come a day when we
shall have laboratories everywhere and all the necessary supplies and
resources--just as the day will come when we shall have all the necessary

I have no doubt that we shall have--in the not-too-distant future--all the
necessary special schools and vocational and trade schools.  I am very
aware of the things we are still lacking.  Of course, we are lacking much
less than what we lacked at the beginning, when we lacked everything.  We
did not even have enough teachers--10,000 jobless teachers [as heard], many
of whom were not prepared to go to rural areas or the mountains.  Today, we
can say we almost have everything--although we still lack certain
things--but we shall have them because we now know how to make them.  We
learn more and more each day how to make things.  It is really up to us to
convert Cuba into an educational power.  We cannot stop for a second.  We
cannot be complacent for an instant with what we have--this is the only way
to become an educational power.  We should never feel satisfied over the
quality of our work.  In other words, we must be conscious of the idea to
constantly improve our system.

I believe in our people's qualities, in our people's excellent moral and
human qualities.  I know that in the education branch one can find the best
of our people, and I know we have something essential--the human factor.
We also have most of the material resources, and we shall obtain in the
future what we do not have now.  I truly believe our revolution, our
education is headed toward very high achievements.  Everything depends on
education.  I said earlier that even respect of laws depends on education;
even the victory over crime depends on education.  Everything has depended
on education all these years, in the future, we shall depend more and more
on education.

How pleasant is it to know we have hundreds of thousands of university
graduates.  We have nearly 300,000 teachers and professors, and we have
several thousand students studying for these careers.  How pleasant it is
to think of the thousands and thousands of engineers we have in the
factories, in the fields, the thousands of doctors and higher-level
specialized doctors we have in our hospitals.  How pleasant this is.  It is
pleasant to recall that at one time only about 500 students entered medical
school.  There were not even enough high school graduates, and the few we
had, we had to spread among various careers.  Today, 5,500 or 6,000
students enter medical school--10 times the number that entered school
during the first few years of the revolution.  All this is the result of
the struggle we all started during the revolution's 1st month.  The moment
10,000 school rooms were built or 10,000 teacher vacancies became available
was the moment the literacy campaign started.  I believe this gives some
idea of the importance our revolution gives to education.  Nothing else
could have been achieved without education.  It is the cornerstone of our
future, development, and progress.

What can I say after this seminar?  You have mentioned with loots of spirit
that you will not let the revolution down.  You have said you feel able to
comply with the role the revolution requires from you, especially that very
delicate responsibility of molding the soul of our children, our
revolution, and our [words indistinct]--the soul of this country's
citizens--in that noble and delicate task of molding consciences, forging
hearts and minds strong and firm enough to resist this great challenge by
the empire, difficult moments, and aggressions of any sort, and win this
great ideological battle being waged in today's world.  You feel you are
able to forge this patriotic awareness and revolutionary spirit; many of
you have said this.  I repeat:  We trust you.  We are completely sure all
of you will be able to fulfill this task, this important, decisive, and
historic role that will guarantee the future of our people, the solidity
and invincibility of the revolution.

Fatherland or death, we will win![applause]