“A Signal”

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“The Year of “Alphabetization”

In the Cuban post revolution era it was at “Che” Guevara who promoted educational and health reforms. 1961 became the “Year of Cuban Literacy” or the “Campaña Nacional de Alfabetización en Cuba,” meaning the “Year of Alphabetization in Cuba.”
The illiteracy rate had increased throughout Cuba after the revolution. Fidel Castro in a speech told prospective literacy teachers, “You will teach, and you will learn,” meaning that this educational program would become a two-way street. Both public and private schools were closed two months earlier, for the summer than usual, so that both teachers and students could voluntarily participate in this special ambitious endeavor.

A newly uniformed army of young teachers went out into the countryside, to help educate those in need of literacy education. It was the first time that a sexually commingled group would spend the summer together, raising the anxiety of many that had only known a more Victorian lifestyle. For the first time boys and girls, just coming of age, would be sharing living conditions together. This tended to make young people more self-sufficient and thought to give them a better understanding of the Revolution.

It is estimated that a million Cubans took part in this educational program. Aside from the primary purpose of decreasing illiteracy, it gave the young people from urban areas an opportunity to see firsthand what conditions were like in the rural parts of Cuba. Since it was the government that provided books and supplies, as well as blankets, hammocks and uniforms, it is no surprise that the educational curriculum included the history of the Cuban Revolution, however it made Cuba the most literate countries in the world with a UNESCO literacy rate in 2015, of 99.7%.

By Captain Hank Bracker, author of the award winning book “The Exciting Story of Cuba,” Follow Captain Hank Bracker on Facebook, Goodreads, his Website account and Twitter.