Reading a post in The Toronto Star I stumbled with a phrase that got me unaware of its reminiscences on my life as a child in Cuba.
“Free Universal Education in Cuba” said the journalist and I saw myself when I was 5 year old, at 8 am in my first day of classes repeating some words that, at that time, didn’t have any meaning to me: “Pioneers by the Communism, we will be like Che!”
Who was Che? What is Communism?
For a 5 year old child communism is a word with no meaning, any transcendental importance in his little life and unrelated with toys and friends. And Che somebody told me was a Argentinean hero who died in Bolivia for some reasons that you forgot at the moment you spell the words with your other mates.
What you don’t know is that Che name you repeated every day in your school life was someone who send thousands of Cuban prisoners to fire squads in La Cabaña, an old Spanish fortress, in 1959. At that time you didn’t know either that in communism you can not dissent from any of the tiniest ideas of the great leader, the one you watched to many times and vanished those children shows when he needed to talk in the sixties, seventies and eighties.
You unknown why you have to be like an Argentinean when you are a Cuban, and you should be a Pioneer thanks to the Communism. What is communism for a little child who only care about toys and happiness?
You are a child. You don’t know and you don’t need to know about politics, firing squads, Argentinean mercenaries turned into heroes. But still you had to repeat every single day in your life as a student the same meaningless phrase: Pioneer by the Tyranny, we will be like the mercenary!
That’s the real meaning of “Free Universal Education in Cuba”. There is only one universal system to all of us. If you are Catholic, Christian, a non believer in communism, Jew or just a simple little child who doesn’t know anything about politics, you have to go to the same school, learn the same ideology than the others “believers”. And ideology in Cuba starts from the very moment a child step onto any school, no matter what.
Recently, for instance, the authorities in the school system were telling at any level that the Ladies in While, an opposition movement in Cuba consisting of wives and other female relatives of jailed dissidents, would kidnap little children at schools. Is that how the Canadian who wrote the silly article in The Toronto Star understand “Free Universal Education” for himself and his children?
The independent journalists and dissidents in Cuba are subjects of many threats, and their children in school are subjects of discrimination, blame and accusations against their parents for reasons of their believes. Is that “Free Universal Education” for a Canadian citizen?
I’m not mentioning here how many professors, professionals and workers in Cuba’s Education System had left their premises to be just a janitor in a hotel in any Cuban resort caused by their low salaries as educators. I’m not talking about the lack of experience and moral values the new school teachers have because their shorter age and knowledge, and the narrow age’s gap between the students and themselves as teachers. I’m not mentioning here how many time students had been send to participate in an act of repudiation in front of some dissidents’ house, even when they unknown who is the person and what are his believes.
What I’m talking here is something that it has to be with the principles and the basic morality of any society: the basic human right for the parents to choose the best education for their children with no indoctrination whatsoever.
I just want to remember to those who pride Cuba for “Free Universal Education” the Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The article says, I quote:
- (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
- (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
- (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Cuba and its authorities had signed that Declaration but never fulfilled, and many dissidents and independent journalists have been in prison for distribute it. Human Rights Watch and many other non governmental organizations had condemned Cuba for those practices.
Today, Cuban children still are getting indoctrinate throughout all their live in values that probably their parents don’t want for themselves. They didn’t choose “the kind of education” that they wanted to their children. The system, one only man seated in Cuba’s presidential chair for 53 years, chose instead of them!
That’s the actual meaning of “Free Universal Education” in Cuba.