Scientific, high-tech, humanist

THE CUBAN UNIVERSITY
Scientific, high-tech, humanist
Transformation, results and goals – 49 years since the historic Higher Education Reform Act
Yenia Silva Correa

 

• AMIDST an international situation characterized by economic and environmental crises, threats of nuclear war and extreme poverty, higher education is called upon to take social action, to guarantee ethical scientific work and support sustainable development.

Cuban universities are not removed from these realities; the country currently has a broad profile of specialties within its higher education institutions and the University of Havana has graduated more than one million students between 1960 and 2010.

Nevertheless, despite this high number of university graduates prepared by the Revolution, there are social and economic needs which have yet to be met.

“Meeting standards of excellence in the training of new professionals is an imperative which obliges us to make rational use of the resources available to institutions and commit to the participation of the best researchers and professionals in that exercise,” stated Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuban Minister of Higher Education, during the recently concluded 2011 Pedagogy Conference.

UNIVERSITY REFORM

With the promulgation of Cuba’s Higher Education Reform Act, approved in 1962, concrete steps were taken to make universities more accessible to the people.

From that point on, the universities left behind their classist nature, opening their doors to women, African Cubans, those of mixed race, campesinos and workers.

From some 15,000 studying at the universities in 1959, the country has expanded the student body to reach 711,000 during the 2008-2009 academic year, most attending municipal university branches and pursuing social and humanistic areas of study.

Also emerging as a result of this reform was the need to link social and economic development to the training of technical and scientific professionals, which translated into an increase in scientific work, as well as in the number of those earning Master’s degrees and doctorates.

After five decades of substantial transformations within institutions of higher learning, Cuba is focusing on strengthening the link between universities and the productive and service sectors, as well as with other, prerequisite levels of education.

Cuban higher education, Diaz Canel indicated, must assume the responsibility for putting its instruction at the service of the country’s developmental demands and needs.

The road being taken by higher education in Cuba is not removed from the challenges of the current international situation.

The emphasis being placed on educational work, humanistic training, the development of values, of a mentality of productivity and conservation and a philosophy of solidarity and altruism are, in light of the times in which we are living, necessary tools as we face economic challenges. •

 

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