Education is free in Cuba


The Government of the Republic of Cuba attaches the greatest importance to the full respect of the right to education of its citizens. Since its inception, the development of measures and programs has focused on overcoming structural and institutional obstacles to the unrestricted enjoyment of this right. One of the first revolutionary measures was the eradication of illiteracy and the creation of conditions to guarantee comprehensive and free education at all levels and of the required quality. That is a reality today, as demonstrated by Cuba's achievements in this area.

In 1953 the island had barely 6.5 million inhabitants. Over a million children had no schools. More than 2 million people were completely or functionally illiterate. 10,000 teachers were unemployed. Approximately 550,000 children aged 6 to 14 did not attend school - almost half of the total. Those over 15 years of age had an average level of education below the third grade.

Applied basic principles:



Based on the determination of the educational and social needs of every child, every family and social group, the school promotes the necessary preventive and educational measures in order to achieve the educational goals set. Informal ways in community education are strengthened.

In the educational care of the rights of children and young people, the aforementioned national programs for community education in non-formal ways - such as "Educate your child" and "For life" - play an important role. These programs are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1989. Both programs are supported by UNICEF and are of great value because they enhance the teaching of children's rights that students receive in curriculum subjects when they start school.

All children between the ages of 5 and 6 (1,588 pre-school girls and boys) in remote areas receive school care. 51.4% of them are girls.

The program “For Life” continues to be a way of strengthening the school as the most important cultural center of the community, with the help of which educational activities on very sensitive topics can be carried to different social arenas with the aim of promoting the right to healthy development and protection of children and adolescents. These include: education in the family, education for community living, health education, education for the preservation and protection of the environment. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child document addresses all of these aspects. 95% of educational institutions are making progress in fulfilling this program, which helps to intensify the values ​​education of children and to prepare families for this issue. In addition, there is the work of the chairs “For Life”, which were created at seven teacher training colleges.

The difficult situation in which the Cuban people found themselves in the 1990s - due to the decline of the socialist camp and the intensification of the economic blockade as well as the hostile policy of the USA against Cuba- led to a profound restructuring of the educational institutions for children.

The training of teaching staff is a priority in Cuba, because education is the basis of its revolutionary social project. The experience of the first teacher training plans after the victory of the revolution consisted among other things. essentially in the study, in learning based on the reality of the school and in mutual help - principles that have also retained their validity in the current training plans. Value is placed on the necessary pedagogical, psychological and sociological preparation, which promotes professionalism in the teaching staff and enables them to organize teaching and educational tasks effectively. The following aspects are of particular importance:

  1. The recognition of each student so that, on the basis of his or her characterization, the process of upbringing and education can be conducted effectively.
  2. A stimulation process of human abilities
  3. Working with the family and the community
  4. The development of curricula that facilitate the teaching staff's work and the flexible adaptation to the specific conditions of the respective schools.

In our country not only do all children go to school, but the vast majority of schools are all-day schools where the children can stay 6 to 7 hours a day, 220 teaching days a year - this is one of the highest standards in the world.

On the other hand, the state pays great attention to the development of special schools in order to promote children who need special education and upbringing as well as possible and according to their individual abilities, so that they can become independent and fit into social life.
The national education system in Cuba is also developing an extensive system of scholarships, including: be awarded in the social interest, if required by special fields and for economic reasons of the students. All of this contributes to the expansion of education to the entire school-age population.

The cases of neglected children or children without relatives, which are very rare in our society, are cared for by state institutions in homes with corresponding regulations that are similar to a family environment.

In recent years, measures have focused in particular on community education. They include preventive educational work and general care for socially disadvantaged children, whereby the school as the most important cultural center in the community is to be strengthened and the families of these students are to be supported. Particular attention is paid to families with preschoolers and teenagers, and to those families who pose risks and social disadvantage to their children.

Based on this conception, the Cuban education system currently works in an economic situation and under circumstances that are well known. The work we are doing today in Cuba in defense of human rights, peace and democracy - which the people won with the victory of their revolution - is an expression of the strong influence of education in the development of a more just society.

Taking into account the progress made in the field of education, Cuba has already achieved the goals set by UNESCO by 2015.

In order to develop the education system further and to be able to implement the new strategies, Cuba has earmarked a sum of 3,825,000,000 pesos for educational purposes in its state budget for 2004.

As far as possible, the Cuban people work together in the education sector with developing countries. More than 17,000 young people from over 110 countries study various subjects on the island, the majority of them at a higher level of education.

Cuba has offered UNESCO a project with 20 grants annually, which has been accepted and is currently being analyzed. The project is intended for the countries of the African continent with the possibility of expanding it to other regions of the world.

Cuba has also proposed to support a comprehensive literacy program to which the Cuban side would provide a significant share of the technology and skilled staff required. In addition, only a small part of the financial resources would have to be raised, which are moved around the world annually and which would not exceed 0.01% of the gross domestic product of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The proposed program could learn to read and write 1,500,000,000 illiterate and semi-illiterate people in the world within 12 years and lead them to the completion of 6th grade.

In connection with the dispute over the kidnapping of the child Elían González, the development of the education system in Cuba experienced a new impetus and began the third stage of the revolution in the education sector since January 1, 1959. It aims to ensure that all Cubans who work to build a new home, have access to a comprehensive general education.

For this purpose, schools are being renovated and repaired and the necessary teachers are being trained, who teach classes with no more than 20 students in elementary school and no more than 15 students in middle school. To this end, all schools will be provided with computers, video, TV sets, reference works and other resources that are indispensable for the material basis of teaching. It is guaranteed that all schools in the state have these funds and that more than 2000 rural schools are supplied with electricity using solar energy.

In addition, thousands of social workers are being trained who are able to grasp the social problems in each residential area and ensure that everyone who needs it receives individual support and guidance. Fifteen schools (one in each province) are being set up to train art educators who will later work in schools, residential areas and factories and enrich the intellectual life of Cubans and their ability to share in the achievements of human history. Two new national television channels will be created for educational purposes only. The other TV channels with direct or indirect educational programs are also used to the maximum. These are remunerated for imparting education to young people between the ages of 17 and 29 who are neither learning nor working, raising their level of education and orienting and preparing them for a righteous profession.

To complete this summary, the following are the main programs that the Ministry of Education has launched directly or in collaboration with youth organizations and the other organizations and institutions that make up our socialist society:


A total of 81,969 television and TV channels are available for this program
21 292 video devices are available. 2,368 schools are powered by solar energy.

During the school year, more than 3,280 programs with a broadcast time of 1,406 hours are broadcast via two educational channels. They are completed directly or indirectly by the educational program of the other two channels.


This program is carried out in all educational institutions of the different levels. 24,000 PCs were installed at the primary schools and 22,290 at the other educational establishments, 1,500 of them in the political-technical institutes for computer science and accounting. The teacher training colleges (ISP) have 2,179 computers.

In elementary school there are 45 pupils for every PC, in middle school 50, in high school 39, in the political-technical institutes for computer science 15 students, in the political-technical institutes for accounting 20, in the other subjects 45 in the courses for integral qualification for young people 50 and at the ISP 10.

During the training at the schools, the student receives 552 hours of PC lessons.

19,227 PC teachers are available to ensure teaching, including 12,236 for elementary school. Over 85 educational software programs are used at the individual educational levels, which were mainly developed by working groups made up of professors and specialists from the universities of teacher education.



Care for preschool children (0 to 5 years) is currently provided through institutional (kindergartens) and non-institutional (“educate your child”) programs. In both ways, 99.5% of the children receive specialized educational care. During the last two years of school the program “Educate your child” has been strengthened. The knowledge of this in the families could be deepened by perfecting his character image.

The care of the children between the ages of 1 and 2 was organized in such a way that a more systematic preparation of the family is achieved. It was also possible to intensify the coordination of the activities of the support groups at the individual levels, which were able to improve their professional level through qualification work.

However, there are shortcomings due to the lack of flexibility of some members of the coordination groups and insufficient participation in the practical implementation of the planned activities, which limits the effectiveness and the intersectoral scope of the program.



84.4% of the country's primary school classes have a frequency of 20 or fewer students. This, among other things, promotes differentiated care for the children and promotes better cooperation with the family and the community. This class frequency is 81.5% in the cities and 93.1% in the countryside. Due to difficulties with the poor condition of classrooms, 15.6% of the primary school classes still have more than 20 students; However, they are taught by 2 teachers, which was made possible by the training of teachers and assistant teachers.



We have a total of 4 schools for the training of auxiliary teachers for the primary schools - in the province of Havana, in the city of Havana, in Ciego de Àvila and Cienfuegos. In the academic year 2002/2003, 2,028 students graduated as assistant teachers. Together with the 6,329 graduates of the two previous years, that makes a total of 8,357 teachers.

In addition, 3 698 additional teachers were trained in the teacher qualification course in the same academic year, which together with the 2 607 graduates of the previous course results in a total of 6 505 teachers who were trained in this way.


There are currently 16,686 teachers in qualification courses for their professional practice. 4,030 primary school teachers qualified to teach several subjects completed their vocational qualifications via training as auxiliary teachers. The lessons take place with the involvement of this teacher, who has classes of a maximum of 15 students and who assumes a differentiated analysis and approach with regard to the individual students in his work. TV, video, computers and the other audiovisual programs are used efficiently.

All of these factors create the conditions to make educational work in schools more effective, to deal more intensively with the individual differences of the students, to do better social work with families and to establish better communication between the community and the school. Currently, 85% of students attend all-day school.


This program provides for the training of over 30,000 art teachers in the fields of music, visual arts, theater and dance. A school has been established in each of the 15 provinces and in the special district Insel der Jugend, at which more than 15,000 students are educated. Annually, 4,000 students are admitted to these schools after they have completed 9th grade. This course provides the basic training for over 3,200 students. After graduation, they will work in schools across the education system and in cultural centers. It is an important link in the art education of young people and adults with the help of various activities that include workshops for evaluation and creative design in the various artistic disciplines.


This program, directly related to work in schools, has proven to be an indispensable tool in raising the level of education of students and teachers. It played an important role in their qualification and in the cultural and scientific education of future teachers and the people in general. Lessons were given, inter alia. in Spanish, English, geography, orthography, Cuban history, literature, dance, environmental protection and scientific and technical development.


Because of its high level of importance and its content, this course was very well received by society as a whole. It is an expression of how much the revolution is committed to the people and especially to the youth.

The course was born out of the need to look after young people who have had no connection to study and work for a year or more based on a new concept: studies are used as a form of employment - a unique example in the world.

In the 2003/2004 school year, 107 615 young people prepared for the Abitur with the aim of continuing their studies or entering work.

In the 2 years since this course was launched, the teaching and learning methods have been perfected, which is reflected in the students' academic performance. The work of the chairs for adults at the universities of teacher education, which is geared towards the training of teaching staff and management structures, plays a part in this.

In the academic year 2003-2004, 32,000 young people began university studies after completing these courses. The assessments made showed an improvement in academic results. In the 2004/2005 academic year, more than 15,000 of these young people will take up a higher degree.


This program builds on the restructuring of the Cuban sugar industry. The Young Communist Organization (UJC), the Ministry of Education (MINED), the Ministry of Higher Education (MINED), the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS) and the Ministry of Sugar (MINAZ) played an important role in its organization, implementation and control.

In the 2003/2004 school year, a total of 96,707 working people were enrolled. 86,969 of these are supervised by the Ministry of Education in the various modalities and levels created for this purpose (qualification, primary education for workers and farmers, secondary education for workers and farmers, workers 'and farmers' faculty, high school diploma). In addition, 9,788 people have registered for training as skilled workers and medium-sized technicians. 30% of the registrations are in the “study as employment” modality, and 4 786 of the workers in the sugar sector are now teaching staff in the educational institutions created for this important program.

The program is generally rated as successful, both due to the massive participation of workers and the factors involved.

During that school year, thousands of these workers took up higher education, mostly in the human sciences.


In order to perfect and support the process of teaching and learning, significant efforts have been made to provide school libraries with essential reference books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and other materials necessary to enhance student knowledge.

During the school year, special attention was paid to increasing the use of selected titles and books that make up the program. As a result, there has been a considerable increase in their use, especially in reference works.

Based on the teaching process and the class as its most concrete form of expression, the reading of these works and the application resulting from them were encouraged.


The universalization of pedagogical training meant a massive involvement of the students of the pedagogical institutes in the schools. With the exception of the 1st year students who receive intensive training at the institute's headquarters, these students are responsible for teaching at the schools for which they are trained. This activity is a major part of their training, which they receive in a far more effective connection with the simultaneous academic training at the municipal institutions. The students are looked after by an experienced teacher as a tutor who guides them in their professional training, supports them in their studies and influences their political and general education. In this context, the school has the character of a micro-university.


The Ministry of Education currently has a total of 433 employees in the various countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Essentially, these are consulting projects in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, Spanish, technical and vocational training, special education, primary school education, secondary education, art education and literacy via radio and television.

A total of 664 foreign students study at the facilities of the Ministry of Education, divided into the following regions: Africa and Middle East 532, Caribbean 25, America 75 and Asia 31.

In the years since the revolution, Cuba has trained 45,000 young people from 120 countries, including 32,000 Africans.
In 2005 2,400 students graduated and 19,000 young people from Third World countries are currently studying in the country.