Education and society’s needs
Yenia Silva Correa
PREPARING today’s students for the
country’s new economic situation, for their
participation in the state and non-state workforce,
is one of the main challenges facing Cuba’s
Technical-Professional and Basic Secondary
In accordance with the areas
prioritized in order to best support the country’s
development, the Technical-Professional system is
emphasizing agro-industrial, construction and
mechanical specialties, with a special focus on
railroad trades and skilled workers in general.
Just three years ago, there were
only 2,000 students studying these specialties,
while the number for the current academic year
increased to almost 60,000 students in 25 areas of
Training of skilled workers for the
agricultural sector has changed considerably. Three
years ago, just 162 students on a national level
were registered in this area of study, while this
year, the group includes more 12,000 young people.
While the statistics are positive,
leaders of the technical-professional system
emphasize that there is still much to be done to
ensure that these areas of study are recognized as
meritorious. Everyone knows the country needs
workers in construction, agriculture and the skilled
trades, but not everyone dreams of their own
children pursuing such a career.
Technical-professional schools are
attended by students who have completed the basic
secondary level, ninth grade. Therefore, if the
student bodies in these important schools are to
expand, sustained recruitment work must be carried
out at the preceding level.
This year, 135,342 ninth grade
graduates, 55.5% of the cohort, will continue their
studies at a technical school to be trained as
skilled workers. The rest will continue on to high
This figure is greater than last
year’s and reflects the need to prepare students in
the particular specialties needed to support the
The academic year which has just
ended saw changes to the mathematics curriculum.
Together with chemistry and English, these have
presented the most problems for students. The use of
various educational tools was likewise expanded.
However, the provinces of Havana,
Matanzas and Holguín are still experiencing staff
shortages and this situation has been met by using
supply teachers or retirees from the profession who
have returned to classrooms.
There are still unresolved issues,
such as limiting classes of students at this level
to a maximum of 30, meeting teaching staff needs in
provinces where vacancies remain and continuing
vocational training and careers advice work with a
view to meeting the demand for qualified personnel
in the state and non-state sectors.
NEXT SCHOOL YEAR
While changes in study programs are
not to be introduced in the 2012-13 course,
directors at both educational levels have announced
that vocational training and careers advice will be
one of the priorities.
Starting this September, it is
anticipated that the number of students entering
training courses will be in excess of 75,000, with
the objective of increasing a qualified workforce
for the goods and services sectors.
Laboratories are to be gradually
installed in secondary and teacher training schools
for physics, chemistry and biology students, with a
view to 379 secondary schools throughout the country
being equipped in this context by this coming
As important as investing in
resources for a quality education are steps being
taken by the country to include in the equation the
elements needed for its development: more workers,
more technical personnel, more goods and more