CELEP Director, Miriam Díaz González reported that the program reaches 80% of Cuban children aged up to six years old. Photo: Teresa Valenzuela

Cuba has institutional and non-institutional mechanisms to provide educational services to all families with children up to the age of six years old, both of which benefit from qualified staff with pedagogical training.

The work of pre-school day care centers - which since the early years of the Revolution have been responsible for providing education to pre-school children - is well-known throughout the country.

In this same vein, the “Educa a tu hijo” or “Educate Your Child” program was launched in 1992, with the aim of supporting families from the beginning of a pregnancy on, with the ultimate goal of providing them with the necessary tools to effectively contribute to their child’s educational and comprehensive development in the home.

Despite being a non-institutionalized program, promoters and facilitators are supported by the Latin AmericanReference Centre forPreschool Education (CELEP), an institution with almost 20 years experience in teacher training and professional development, working with both Cubans and Latin American educators, and which is currently preparing for the 12th International Early Childhood and Preschool Education Encounter, under the maxim “Cultural Diversity and comprehensive development.”

Regarding the Educate Your Child program and international preschool and early childhood events, Granma International spoke with CELEP Director, Miriam Díaz González.

Lets talk about the Educate Your Child program and CELEP.

Firstly, it’s necessary to highlight that only 18% of children of preschool age receive educational attention in institutions. The number of children being taught at an institution is minimal. This means that CELEP and the Ministry of Education focus their efforts on non-institutional programs. We mostly work with promoters (community liaison representatives) and facilitators of the (Educate Your Child) program.

We know that the 18% of children in pre-school day care centers are well cared for and educated, with professional staff who support their development; they all have a management structure and healthcare team.

In regards to Educate Your Child it all comes down to the family. This means that as the national directorate we must prioritize our work and all the training and professional development efforts we undertake with individuals affiliated with the program.

The Educate Your Child program provides families with the necessary tools to effectively contribute to their child’s educational and comprehensive development within the home. Photo: Eduardo Palomares

The promoters are education professionals, trained by the Ministry of Education to provide this service in every single People’s Council (composed of municipal delegates in a certain neighborhood). We are currently working to have two representatives for every People’s Council.

They recruit facilitators from other sectors of society who aren’t education graduates and must therefore undergo systematic training. And who provides them with this training? The promoters. This is one of their key functions: to train all facilitators.

Tell us about Cuba’s participation in previous Early Childhood and Preschool Education congresses…

CELEP greatly benefits from these events and contributes to the other countries. Cuba’s education system is organized very differently to those of other nations, where education is mainly in private rather than state hands. In Cuba it’s different.

What has become clear is the importance of our experiences in scientific research related to early childhood development in the first six years and the results we have been accumulating through various investigations.

In the last encounter we presented results from five studies carried out by our center. One of these included the Differentiated Training Model, which teaches all facilitators how to address their individual weaknesses. This was very well received and various countries have requested we apply these scientific studies in their contexts.

Which countries usually have the largest representation at these types of events?

Delegates from 25 countries usually attend our events. The largest delegations are from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Spain and Chile. We also receive groups from English speaking countries.

Any final comments about Educate Your Child?

I think it’s a vital concept. 80% of preschool children aged up to six years are educated in this way. This program must be maintained not only by the CELEP and Cuban Ministry of Education, but I would say by everyone because all nations are increasingly turning their focus toward preschool education.