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  • 09 / 01 / 2007

Cuban kids head back to school on Monday

«Everything is ready to begin the academic year, but we do not want to raise false expectations. We are still facing a special period and a blockade that limit us and makes the buying of resources more expensive. There are lots of pending matters, which will be resolved as the country obtains the necessary resources,» said Luis Ignacio Gomez, minister of Education in a press conference.

This coming September 3, the day the 2007-2008 academic year begins, a total of 3.3 students "half a million of them provided with full room and board" will be in classrooms throughout the country.

While 13,700 schools will open their doors, Gomez pointed out that there are some schools with construction problems, experiencing delay in their repairs; therefore, students at these centers "which are exceptional cases" will be relocated to other premises.

The minister of Education said that during the summer holidays, construction workers, teachers and others made key efforts in repairing the schools, especially in several primary and secondary schools of Havana which are in very old buildings in need of roof upgrades.

Gomez said that there will be 175,000 teachers conducting classes, along with 32,000 students studying education. This figure, he said, placed Cuba among the countries with the most teachers per capita, one for every 36 inhabitants.

Vice Minister Jorge Hidalgo gave detailed information about resources that will be provided to schools and individual students. He said that all books and workbooks are ready; as well as pencils, pens, chalk supplies and notebooks "which will have better quality paper and will increase their pages from 40 to 50" which was a request made by the Pioneers Congress.

Hidalgo also noted that there will be an increase in the number of educational toys and materials for day-care centers, in addition to sports equipment in primary, secondary, technical and high schools.

In relation to student uniform, Hidalgo said that two uniforms will be provided to those attending school for the first time, while those starting second, third and fifth grade will be given one each.

Likewise, those students beginning secondary and technical school will receive two uniforms; and those studying eighth grade and second year at technical schools will receive one. Boarders will also receive two uniforms and those who get passes to go home every 24 days will get three.

Special shoes will be provided to all children of primary and special schools located in the Plan Turquino (A comprehensive program implemented by the Cuban government for the improvement of life in mountainous regions) as well as to all boarders in the easternmost provinces of the country.

Towels and sheets for boarders and the replacement of mattresses, along with kitchen utensils in day-care centers are among the materials also being provided by the government.

The minister of Education said that each school has a leaflet listing the materials that must be provided to each student according to their education level.

This document, he said, can be reviewed by teachers, relatives and students themselves. «There is no reason for these resources not being provided, because they are all guaranteed. Peoples control over them is very important, so that there is not any problem with them.»

Moreover, he said that there is no need for asking parents for any resources. Each school has enough resources to carry out the teaching process.

The minister announced that a national act for the beginning of the academic year will be held next Monday in Havanas Teatro Mella, and that it will be attended by students.

Source: Margarita Barrio, Juventud Rebelde

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