Cuba’s Adult and Youth Education Program (EJA) is one of the most significant in terms of social impact. The process of perfecting schools for working adults, the preparation of students for university entrance exams, language schools, work in the country's penitentiaries, and research projects all corroborate the breadth of this educational sub-system.
Professionals in this field have participated in international collaboration, including work in literacy instruction, primary and secondary education, professional development and training.
In the opinion of Dr. Jorge Tamayo Collado, researcher at the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogy Center, we are still seeing too many adult education programs better fit for the 20th century, not the 21st.
"The Cuban EJA school is becoming a paradigm and an example for Latin America and the Caribbean," he stated, "That is why we are reinforcing it to strengthen international collaboration and everything related to the 2030 educational objectives."
The fact is that we can talk about a new Adult and Youth Education Program, since the idea emerged in 1962, shortly after the Literacy Campaign, and, now, the subsystem boasts a highly qualified staff including 30 PhDs and more than 3,000 professors with Masters degrees in Educational Sciences, reflecting the needs, conditions, characteristics, and prioritized goals of the this branch of the educational system.
Currently enrolled in its programs are 97,784 students in 409 centers across the country, including 82 language schools.
NEW STUDY PLANS
A press conference was held at the Adult and Youth Education Program's national office at the Ministry of Education, where it was announced that the drafting of new study plans, methodological guides, and text books for the first two semesters of worker-campesino schools will be completed this July. September will be devoted to reviewing these new materials.
"Already in October 2017, the study plan for the first and second semesters at worker-campesino schools had been delivered to the publishing house Pueblo y Educación. It was reviewed by sub-committees at the Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences and
its printing begun," reported Dr. Tamayo.
"Students will be provided what they need, what will be useful to the model being created in the country, on the basis of training as indicated in the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party, and as projected for these age groups in pedagogical principles."
LANGUAGE IN THE COMMUNITY
The adult education system has been offering, for four years now, summer language courses in its worker-campesino schools, for children, adolescents, and youth. To learn more about this program, Granma International spoke with Dr. Maura Tomasén León, EJA national director, who said, "This year, we are projecting opening the courses in three languages: English, French, and Portuguese. The novelty is that the community asked that these not be for children and adolescents only. Coordination is being undertaken with presidents of Popular Councils to take these offerings to the community.
"The impact has been very positive. Additionally, we are opening them up so that training courses for teachers can continue through the summer. All teachers who want to learn English, French, or Portuguese at a basic level can do so, and free of charge, as part of their professional development."
Usually, collaborators preparing for an international mission abroad, doctors above all, enroll in the language schools the EJA has in the country's municipalities, maintaining links with professionals in all sectors.
Since 2015, the total number of these schools has increased from 43 to 82, while more onsite classrooms at workplaces have also been established.
"From one language school we had in the provinces, in the municipal seat, today in each province there are three to five, counting onsite classrooms," Dr. Tomasén reported.
"Beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, we have had the ability to install labs in language schools. Today, we have eight provinces with labs, and we are already projecting the installation of another six, an aspect which has been very positive for both students and teachers.
"We put emphasis on the training courses and the preparation of children, adolescents, and youth in community courses to develop abilities in English, French, and Portuguese."
As in all levels of education in Cuba, adult education has defined its priorities for the coming academic year.
Political-ideological work to strengthen revolutionary consciousness, focused in particular on the thought of José Martí and Fidel Castro Ruz, has been given emphasis.
Another priority is methodological preparation for teachers, to improve the quality of classes, as well as instruction for semi-literate students and those with limited educations.
Also identified as issues requiring attention are the perfecting of the national system; and improving the design of subject area study plans, methodological guidelines, and text books.