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Havana U Dean on Public Education

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  • Walter Lippmann
    From: Luis A. Martin To: cbiacs@yahoogroups.com Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 8:37 PM Dean of Havana U Explains Strength of Public Education Commercialization
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2003
      From: Luis A. Martin
      To: cbiacs@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 8:37 PM
      Dean of Havana U Explains Strength of Public Education


      Commercialization fosters the brain flight,
      warns Vela Valdes

      The dean of University of Havana calls to create a united
      front against it

      He warns that groups that install schools of higher
      education as if they were MacDonald´s,
      convert education into merchandise and students into
      customers.

      KARINA AVILES
      La Jornada
      June 30, 2003

      Dean of Havana University, Juan Vela Valdes, called on the
      public universities of Latin America to form a common front
      against the commercial model of robbing brains, despite the
      fact that those men and women received their education in
      their counties of origin. Intelligence, he said, is not the
      patrimony of rich nations.

      Vela Valdes visited Mexico to head scientific-academic
      accords between Havana University and the National
      Autonomous University of Mexico (NAUM). These accords are
      unique in Latin America because they enable the development
      of joint doctorates in biomedical sciences and nursing which
      would include the granting of an academic degree, among
      other things, by both institutions.

      The dean spoke about the problems that plague public higher
      education in Latin America and "throughout the world in
      general".

      The dean said that the power elite is the most interested in
      seeing that people don't think, because "a man who thinks
      can not be deceived, can not be told to vote for this or
      that", he emphasized.

      A principal strategy of imperialism is to strip our
      countries of ideology and unity so that future generations
      will not have concerns or criticisms, he said.

      However, "intelligence is not a patrimony of rich nations.
      Intelligence belongs to all and we are not crossing our
      arms". He explained in principle some of the activities of
      rich countries to foster an utilitarian education project.

      One of their strategies is to "selectively drain brains". It
      means, he said, the existence of a "professional exodus" of
      certain careers -computers, informatics (data handling) and
      engineering- toward "first world" nations, where they are
      contracted to aid the infrastructure development of those
      countries.

      Meantime, our states lose their specialists, after "having
      provided them a primary, secondary and university education,
      the preparation to work for the benefit of their countries".
      To do this is to "de capitalize" a nation, since a state's
      principal future investment is to have a well educated
      population.

      The dean pointed out that the U.S. grants 50 thousand visas
      annually to informatics professionals, while Germany offers
      20 thousand. The professionals leave their countries with
      very high salaries and "there are brain-hunter businesses
      who just wait for the person to receive a diploma to propose
      them a contract in a first world country".

      The dean pointed out that our countries can not compete with
      the salaries and other accoutrements offered to migrant
      specialists. That's why competition must be based on the
      students' moral values and their ethical development to make
      them appreciate the importance of working for the welfare of
      their respective nations.

      Another activity of the commercial model of education is "to
      have large businesses that build universities".
      Transnational groups dominate many private education
      institutions in order to impose research projects on them.

      In this way, the scientist does not conduct a project in
      search of his country's benefit, but for the profit of the
      business that contracted him. In this sense, he warned that
      the objective of all universities created by private
      initiative groups -like Kentucky Fried Chicken or
      McDonald's- is to convert the public higher education
      institutions into "merchandise".

      Consequently, he added, this type of university will neither
      create human values nor men of thoughts or ideas. Such
      chains are "a mistake" in the field of education.

      To combat the commercialization of education, the public
      university must promote its "own thought so that a hegemonic
      exoteric way of thinking will not be imposed" and higher
      education will not be a matter of the elite, he insisted.

      In this sense, Vela Valdes set forth the details of a new
      education program in Cuba called "the universalization of
      higher education", which entails the construction of
      university centers in the island's 269 municipalities.

      Under the premise that "there will never be an excess of
      university graduates" in his country, he emphasized that
      300,000 must enroll in higher education by September, since
      access has been widened, specially in the humanities, as in
      computing and informatics.

      When the Revolution triumphed the country had 30 thousand
      university graduates, half left the country, but now we have
      700 thousand. We had 6 thousand doctors, but 3 thousand left
      and year after year we graduated 3 thousand each. Now we
      have 67 thousand, that is, one doctor for every 127 persons.

      Where primary education is concerned, the leap in quality
      has been enormous. Havana has one teacher for every 20
      students. And all primary schools in the country have
      computing.

      Although "we have 900 primary schools in rural zones where
      the electrical grid, which covers 93% of the country, does
      not reach", electricity has been taken to those schools by
      means of solar panels, so that "you have a child with his
      computer in the remotest part of the mountain", he said.

      Secondary education will also have a new program in
      September with a double shift. A school lunch program, a
      sort of reinforced snack, will be initiated. All campuses
      will have a computer laboratory and the ratio will be one
      teacher for every 15 students.

      All that improves the quality of life for the population
      will be strongly supported. Doctors, teachers and
      specialists will never be in excess, because there will
      always be a school, a factory or a community where they will
      be needed, he said.

      Lastly, Vela Valdes said that in order to confront the model
      that attempts to "wipe out" higher education financed by the
      state, public universities most unite in the academic and
      political areas. In reference to the first, by means of
      concrete actions such as publications, research and joint
      events and, in the political area, by means of forming a
      "common front" to defend what's ours during one of the most
      difficult moments for humanity.

      In this sense, he remembered "with great pleasure the call
      to unity made by the Mexican intellectual Pablo González
      Casanova, on May Day this year at the Plaza of the
      Revolution" (in Havana).

      Unity, emphasized the dean, is essential during this period
      in which "if you do not think like me, you are against me".
      In spite of it all, Vela Valdes says that the panorama is
      optimistic, because "the way is being opened for a new
      reality".

      Neoliberalism has failed so badly that it has sowed a
      greater conscience and options, he concluded.


      Juan Vela Valdes
      Dean, University of
      Havana

      translation: lam
      Boletin Latino
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