Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba

By Lois M. Smith; Alfred Padula | Go to book overview

7
Women and the Revolution
in Education

The revolution signifies study for all . . . the right to improve oneself, to become a useful citizen, to be able to fully develop one's intelligence.
The Federation of Cuban Women ( 1970) 1

Thanks to the revolution, we are now teachers! Viva Cuba! Viva Fidel! Long live socialism!
Women literacy workers ( 1962) 2

If we made our selection on the basis of academic record alone, two out of every three medical school students would be women.
Fidel Castro ( 1988)3

We must move beyond the paternalistic concepts that are so deeply imbed
ded in our schools and in our society.
Yolanda Marrero, Cuban schoolteacher ( 1989)4

The school year in revolutionary Cuba typically began with a celebration: student performances, sports events, balloons, and speeches. These ceremonies honored one of the revolution's proudest achievements, the creation of a modern, free, and universal education system. It was an education system designed to be an engine for social change, to achieve what the educational guru Paulo Freire called the "reinvention of Cuban society." 5

Education in revolutionary Cuba meant social mobility. A washerwoman's daughter could attend university and become a white-collar professional. Education expanded women's horizons, opportunities, and options. The educational revolution also created hundreds of thousands of new positions for teachers and administrators, many filled by women. By the early 1990s Cuba had ten times as many teachers as in 1959. 6

-82-

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