OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
“Our education system is inclusive,” notes Dr. Silvia Navarro Quintero, director of Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences. Photo: Leidy Hernández Lima

The 2017-2018 school year will be marked by the anniversaries of two important historic events: the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, and the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. But it will also be a time to implement modifications at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as to teacher training.

From September the training of students who have completed their higher intermediate level education as junior high school teachers will begin. This modality is aimed at those who have completed ninth grade and will be applied according to the particular needs of each territory.

During the upcoming academic period, the third National Education System perfecting process will also continue, the theoretical and methodological policy of which has been elaborated based on the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution.

NEW CYCLES AT THE PRIMARY LEVEL

Dr. Silvia Navarro Quintero, director of the Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences (ICCP), announced a number of changes to different school levels, noting that these transformations are the most significant, but not the only ones to be implemented.

With regard to early childhood, the priority will be to strengthen different efforts in the training of educational agents, bearing in mind that this group caters to a high number of children through the “Educate Your Child” program, where the link between families and facilitators is essential.

This educational level is responsible for the maximum development of the potential and capabilities of children up to the age of six, and it is from this perspective that work will be focused as regards this age group.

From September, it is proposed that primary education be structured in three cycles (first-second, third-fourth and fifth-sixth grades), corresponding to developmental stages, in addition to final exams in the second, fourth and sixth grades.

The proposed changes to elementary level education are based on the concept of an inclusive learning and teaching process, which provides tools for the student to arrive better prepared to elementary school, after the transition through early childhood, and later onward to high school following the sixth grade.

From September, students who have completed ninth grade will be offered the possibility of training as junior high school teachers. Photo: Jorge Luis González

The strengthening of multi-grade classes in small rural schools, a reduction in the number of textbooks following the updating and unification of certain bibliographies, and the introduction of complementary activities as part of the reorganization of the school schedule are other novelties to be implemented in the next school year.

CHANGES AT THE SECONDARY LEVEL

Junior high schools will also undergo transformations. The proposals include updating teaching contents and disciplines, the reduction of subjects within the compulsory curriculum and correspondence between the number of classes dedicated to the institutional curriculum and the process of contextualization.

At this level, efforts are concentrated on strengthening vocational training and technical-vocational education.

Another change is that the natural sciences will be divided into the disciplines of Biology, Geography and Physics in the case of the seventh grade. The number of classes for some disciplines will vary in order to introduce new contents.

ADJUSTMENTS TO HIGH SCHOOLS

Among the main reforms at the pre-university level is the strengthening of the basic institutional curriculum. To achieve this, complementary courses will be introduced, some of which will be optional, while others will be mandatory.

“We are talking about an educational level that among other goals has to ensure continuity of studies with emphasis on entering higher education,” stated Dr. Navarro.

Other adjustments to this educational level include the strengthening of scientific research through certain projects, the readjustment of the subjects of Civil Defense and Arts Education to a semester-long duration, the reduction of television-taught classes, an increase in the use of computer tools, and new forms of organization in the teaching-learning process.

WORKERS, YOUTH AND ADULTS

In efforts to seek new ideas to form the model comprehensive individual that Cuban society requires, technical and vocational education has a role to play, since it is decisive in the training of technicians and workers.

Work is ongoing on the elaboration of specific textbooks for this educational modality.

“These are projects based on the professionalization of subjects and the regrouping of contents based on the requirements of Central State Administration bodies,” the ICCP director explained.

The opening of new specialties in this sector is envisaged, in line with the demands of different territories, the revision of skilled workers’ educational levels, the training of young people and in the non-state sector, the new concept of trade schools, and not least to transform technical and vocational education into a dynamic source of economic and social development.

The teaching of young people and adults is one of the educational levels called on to respond to current social demands. Since the composition of those enrolling in this modality has changed in recent years, a change of concept, new plans and curricula are proposed, in order to adjust to the specific characteristics of each territory, promoting a closer relationship with families, and new opportunities for training and professional development.

ATTENTION TO SPECIAL NEEDS

Special education includes among its priorities implementing the basic compulsory curriculum based on the general education curriculum, designing specific curricula according to the type of special educational need, elaborating methodological guides for attention to diversity, and fostering greater articulation with the technical-professional sector to ensure the continuity of studies and employment links.

With regard to the training of students with special educational needs, Silvia Navarro Quintero noted: “It is no secret that our education system is inclusive, which does not exclude the requirement of certain training to face some types of educational needs in line with different educational levels.”

The proposed readjustments to different educational levels are the result of previous analyses and social demands and are endorsed by the process of experimentation that the Ministry of Education and the Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences have been conducting for the past three years.

However, these are not the only changes. The experiences gained following their gradual implementation in the new school year will serve to validate their success before being extended to the entire country.