Ever since the Socialism was implanted in Cuba in 1960s, the country’s education system has fundamentally improved. It is 100% subsided by the government. Cuba is rated as the best education system in Latin America, despite being one of the less developed countries in the region. Education is public and free for all Cuban citizens. Today a large school network provides education in all corners of the Cuban Island.
Primary education covers seven grades (years) structured in two cycles: the first from Kindergarten to 4th grade, and the second from 5th to 6th grade. The primary goal is to develop a learned student, with patriotic feelings and civic education, capable of identifying with the values and principles of our society, exalting the value of work as a source of wealth and acting as the protagonist in the leaning process. This should be achieved through the educational pedagogical process and all school and social activities conducted by the school, the family, and the community.
Then, Basic Secondary Education is comprised of students in age group 12-15 years and is an integral part of the compulsory basic education along with Primary Education. Its goal is to lay the foundation for the full development of the student’s personality by fostering the acquisition of basic knowledge and the development of skills in Native Language, Literature, Mathematics, Natural and Social Sciences and a foreign language, besides contributing to the aesthetic education of students, the development of a physical culture, the practice of sports and the elementary knowledge of the principles of the technique, closely linked to production activities and the work of vocational training and professional guidance.
Upon successfully completing 9th grade, students have the possibility to continue their education. From then on, they have a wide range of options, all of interest to the economic and social development of the country, in accordance with the workforce demand required for the coming years. This education is for students 15-18 years old, who complete their studies in a period of 3–4 years. General Secondary Education is splinted into two categories: pre-university education and technical or professional.
Pre-University Education prepares young people for Higher Education with a solid foundation of general culture, aims to instill in the students the conviction that the university studies to which they aspire will meet the requirements for the development of the country. There are different kind of Pre-university School such as: Pre-University Vocational Institutes of Pedagogical Sciences, whose purpose is to strengthen the vocational training started in previous levels in order to ensure efficient vocational guidance to students, encourage them and commit them to continue their education in pedagogical courses, from which they will graduate in education. There are also the Pre-University Vocational Institutes of Exact Sciences, whose goal is to ensure that its graduates opt for careers in science, which are necessary for the scientific development of the country. With similar objectives there are the Pre-University Military Vocational Institutes for students pursuing military careers. All students who complete higher secondary education are able to opt for any of the different university careers. To enter the university, students must have satisfactorily completed their studies at this level, in addition to taking and passing entrance examinations in Spanish, Mathematics, Cuban History, Chemistry, or physics depending on the major students wish to take.
Technical or professional Education has the main role of prepare the skilled workforce of technicians and workers that the country requires. Students enter the subsystem after completing 9 or 12 years of schooling in some specialties. The courses last 3 or 4 years, according to the entry level and complexity of the specialty, whose structure corresponds to the current demand, especially in the areas of agriculture, civil construction, accounting and railroads. These areas are linked to production organizations and services of the State.
All children from the ages of 6 to 18 are required to wear regulated school uniforms with different colors distinguish the various grade levels. Kids must wear school uniforms. The Cuban government provides just one or two uniforms per child each year. Children often dirty the clothes daily when they go to school and one set of uniforms are not enough for young children. Parents are forced to wash them every day. Obviously, if uniforms are washed daily they could be deteriorate. At the beginning of the school year, parents have to buy more uniform’s set on the black market because the Cuban government only guarantees one or two sets of uniforms for children a year.
Primary Education First Cycle Primary Education Second Cycle
Basic Secondary Education
Pre-University Education Technical or professional Education
The educational system in Cuba is built on three main principles: self-discipline, hard work and love of country. From the time children are small, they are indoctrinated in their schools with the government’s political beliefs of communism. Children and parents alike are expected to uphold the “Code for Children, Youth and Family” which clearly prohibits the teaching of beliefs that go against communism. Parents who violate this code by teaching their children contrary doctrine face the prospect of prison.
Higher education is provided by universities, higher institutes, higher pedagogical institutes, centers of higher education and higher polytechnic institutes. All institutions of higher education are public. The Ministerio de Education Superior (MES) is responsible for policy in matters of undergraduate and postgraduate education. It controls teaching, methodology, courses and programs and the allocation of student places, as well as the specialization courses offered by centers of higher education which come under the control of other ministries. All institutions have the same status.
Cuban universities offer a wide range of studies to include technical careers, medicine, education, law, finance, science, economics and more. Students can obtain a professional diploma or Licenciatura (Bachelor’s degree) upon successfully completing a 4-5 year program. A Bachelor’s degree in medicine may require 5 to 6 years to complete. A Bachelor’s degree completes the first stage of higher education.