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Teachers in crisis and teacher crisis

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maestros, Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba.- It could not be said with certainty how much the deficit of teachers at all levels of education nationwide. Some publications have revealed the lack of teachers in provinces such as Ciego de Ávila, Havana, Matanzas, Sancti Spíritus and Camagüey; a problem that has been getting worse in the last fifteen years, but after the pandemic and in the midst of both the energy and systemic crisis, it has forced desperate measures to be adopted.

Last August, the Minister of Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, acknowledged that to alleviate the lack of teachers in Havana they had hired university students and professors from other provinces. The measure does not seem coherent, since a few days before the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Ciego de Ávila reported a deficit of 746 teachers, Sancti Spíritus 923, Camagüey 1,138 and Matanzas 425, just to mention some of the most affected territories.

The educational sector has always been among the least favored by the economic policies adopted by the Cuban government. Overwork and low wagesadded to the persistence of the crisis and the effects of inflation, have caused thousands of teachers to request leave to dedicate themselves to self-employment or leave the country.

It is unknown how many teachers have left Cuba during the current migratory wave, but the students themselves admit that many of their teachers, especially the young ones, have gone “to see the volcanoes” or that they “already crossed the river.” They leave behind aging staff that keep teaching classes out of habit, because they don’t give up feeling useful or because they can’t afford to exchange salary for a pension these days.

In 2021, as part of the Monetary Regulation, the Cuban Government eliminated the payment for years of service to teachers, and prohibited them from giving private classes while they were working for the State. The decision could not have been more counterproductive in a context of deprivation like the one Cuba is going through. It is not uncommon, then, that teachers refuse to return to the classroom, and that to fill the vacancies, the directors of Education are reaching out to the same students of pedagogical careers —registration that also decreases each year—, as to “staff qualified” of production and services, both sectors outside the teaching profession.

This is how things are on December 22, when Cuba celebrates Teacher’s Day. The Revolution, which more than sixty years ago was capable of involving thousands of young people in the noble task of teaching literacy, today cannot make up for the lack of teachers, whom it has mercilessly exploited and impoverished, relegating them practically to the bottom of the professional pyramid. from the country.

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