Free Education in Cuba

By Repatriado*

Fidel Castro was always proud of the “free education” in Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — Every human living on this planet knows that education is free in Cuba. And I know because I heard the Undefeated Comandante say it 272,397 times if I didn’t count them wrong, and I shouldn’t have because my education was free.

It was a hobby of mine to count his cadenced statements when he would delight us with simultaneous interventions on every TV channel for 3 or 4 informative hours where we found out just how well off we were. I remember that unforgettable night when he spoke to us about the price of Major League Baseball tickets, with one of those tickets you could pay to go to the Cuban National Series for a whole year he used to say, how right he was my God, I tell you my fellow countrymen.

This youthful obsession of mine with the motor-mouth Leader’s speech convinced me of two things, first that he personally paid for all of our education out of his own pocket and he only asked us for our absolute loyalty in return, secondly, that it was only in Communism that parents didn’t have to directly pay for their children’s education. Later on, I discovered that things weren’t really like this at all, but I believe that the poor Comandante died still believing this.

However, I didn’t pay much attention to these revolutionary achievements while I was studying. My generation was able to enjoy sports training, language classes, hobby clubs, summer camps, everything and everything was free, but we didn’t appreciate it, human beings are very ungrateful, especially the new socialist man.

Now, it’s my children who enjoy the Revolution’s free achievements.

My son is in the 4th grade, he has already had 7 teachers, all for free and nearly all of them can write without spelling mistakes, noooo I’m exaggerating. OK, seriously, something tells me that the quality of our education system has declined a little. This year my kid learned that Hatuey fought for Cuba’s freedom, he learned this from the mouth of his seventh teacher. Graduate Yurysleysys.

One of the teachers opened up a “small school”, a kind of private academy where children go over subjects in the afternoon. As education continues to be free but the quality… and because we are picky parents, we send him to this “small school” three hours a week so that he can learn the basics, this costs 250 pesos per month.

My wife and I are a couple of bourgeois people and so we have our kid doing two sports, chess and martial arts, between them both that’s 4 hours per week and they cost us 250 pesos each.

Not satisfied with that and on the brink of crisis, we have decided to send him to learn English, he’s on the school’s program since last year but they have never had a teacher. These are another two hours a week and another 250 pesos.

My girl is still in pre-school, may Marx bless her, and we have a free kindergarten which we haven’t really been able to enjoy. It closed last February because of a blockage in a bathroom toilet, it reopened in August when the State fixed it for free, it took this long to fix because of a shortage of materials due to the blockade.

Then Hurricane Irma came along, the damage was minimal, but surrounding groves are in such a state that if you look at them they’ll come crashing down so they wisely ordered the kindergarten to be closed again from September until the free and efficient People’s Power can organize men to come and prune the trees.

To be fair, the State didn’t leave us high and dry, they gave us a place at another kindergarten, it’s just that instead of being 3 blocks away it’s now 3 kilometers away because there aren’t any spaces at nearby ones, but because we are a pair of spoiled brats, we didn’t like it and we decided to send the girl to the woman who used to look after her before we were given her kindergarten space. This costs another 250 pesos per month.

As my girl is a Cuban who likes to dance, we have her at a Beginner’s Art Academy, and you knows what it costs? Yup, 250 pesos.

On top of this, let’s add the food extras we give the boy, neurotic parents we are in the end for wanting him to eat properly. These extras cost 20 pesos per day between the snack and protein at lunch, this adds up to another 400 pesos extra.

Adding all of this up, which I know how to do and I learned this for free, my children’s free education costs, without going into greater details, around 1900 pesos per month.

Education is free, but somehow my crazy wife and I spend almost 4 times a primary teacher’s salary on it.

I shudder to think that my daughter will soon start at her free primary school, then we will be well over and above, just in education expenses, 5 times the average Cuban salary, and that’s us living in a low middle class, a really low middle class neighborhood.

Viva la Revolucion and its super expensive free achievements!

P.S. Everything I’ve written here, which you have read for free, is true, except for the teacher’s name, we’ve decided not to learn them anymore as they don’t last very long…

*I’ve used a pseudonym because I’m afraid that my humble internet account might be taken away from me or that I might be harassed financially. This might be a fear without grounds, but I don’t know for certain and as I’m not brave, I avoid the risk because what I most fear is losing the mask that I put on in front of my beloved and “revolutionary” grandfather.

 

  • Kennedy Earle Clarke

    It would take someone of your ilk to respond to this article which sounds so treacherously impossible. HT speaks about the low wages paid to Cuban workers, so. how is this couple able to afford paying for these extra classes. Your propaganda stinks to the highest level. The writer is forgetting that sensible people still inhabit the Planet. The sensible of the Planet are fully aware of the anti-Cuba, the anti-Socialist stand of HT and brother Moses Patterson. In comparing the educational standard which exists in the USA and that of Cuba is like comparing chalk to cheese.

    Cuba is illiterately free, while, in the USA out of a population of 326 million inhabitants, 32 million are illiterate. Brother Moses, you must first pick the beam out of your own eyes before you can see to pick the speck of dust out of others. The many Third World Students who have had the privilege to study in Cuba, sing the praises of the country. The Medical Reputation of Cuban Doctors is world renowned. There is nothing that you nor HT can do to sully the INTERNATIONAL Reputation of the Cuban Education System! The students from the USA studying in Cuba, do not speak about bearing gifts to their teachers. They speak about their dedication!

    • Moses Patterson

      Cubans somehow manage to meet monthly living expenises IN SPITE OF low government salaries. It is known as “resolving “. If you really knew Cuba, you would know that. “Sensible people” do not understand a system that somehow is sustained through remittances and non-legal income-generating activities when the average monthly salary is less than $26 usd. Cuban education, by Third World standards is commendable. But there is no comparison to the US. You seem to be making the same mistake many ill-informed people make. You are comparing Cuba’s best to the worst examples of the US. If I needed double bypass surgery, I would choose the Johns Hopkins surgeon over Cuban surgeon every time. So would you.

    • repatriado

      Hi Moses,
      you are right about the other expenses associated to education. To give
      presents here to teachers and doctors begun as a demonstration of respect and
      retribution because everybody knows their salary aren´t enough to live and
      because they can´t still nothing to sell in the black market as the majority of
      Cubans do.

      Right now
      this gifts are not an obligation, but close, I won´t say that you will receive
      a worst treatment if you don´t make a present to your doctor or to your son´s
      teacher, but without doubts you will receive a much better treatment if you do.

      About fans,
      jejeje, do you live in Cuba?, we gave 2 month ago 50 pesos, 2 USD, as a
      contribution among other parents to buy a fan, there is still no fan because
      the mother in charge of buying it has not found a fan with a price under 50
      USD. My son´s teacher monthly salary rounds 35 USD.

      Hi Kennedy,
      I can afford this expenses because I could abandon Cuba when I was very young,
      I was desperate because of the low opportunities to have a life in my country.
      I went to Europe and I worked as a dog, starting cleaning flours and oil tanks
      in vessels. I saved money and invest right so I have an income that 95 percent
      of Cuban population have not, I am the exception.

      I had to
      come back to Cuba because my wife, a doctor, couldn’t go to be with me after 8
      years of separation because the very reputed Cuban Health Minister didn´t allow
      her to leave Cuba. Cuban doctors are things that the state use as they like.

      There are
      thousands of foreign students in Cuba, studding with much better conditions
      that Cubans students, is that what you call INTERNATIONAL Reputation of the
      Cuban Education System? Who is paying that education for the foreign students?
      Castro´s family or the Cuban people? Is really fair to pay for that education
      when your educational system is falling down? That is to put politic in front
      of real Cubans interests, that is pure demagogy.

      Sorry for
      my English, Word program helped but I guess not enough.

      • Moses Patterson

        I uses to live in Cuba and my wife is Cuban. Your English is just fine.

    • Joseph Marti

      KEC, please stop spewing ignorance and The Regime’s propaganda.

      What evidence is there of Cuban intellectual superiority?
      – How many Nobels have Cubans EVER won for anything – much less their scientific/medical accomplishments? (hint: think “goose egg”)
      – Where are the majority of most elite universities located?
      – Where did Fidel himself seek treatments for glaucoma and blindness?
      (hint: https://www.healio.com/opht
      – I could go on, and on, and….

      …and the 2017 Ironic Oxymoron Award goes to…”Cuba is illiterately free…”

  • Joseph Marti

    Basic economics: Notfhing is “free.” Let’s just consider extent of thought/speech freedoms that are “taught.” The press is not free to openly challenge, as in other countries, which is a convenient safety mechanism. With all the “free” education, where has this gotten the country and its economy? Still third world and citizens literally dying to escape.