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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cuba’s Education System: A Beacon of Light in Latin America Facing an Uncertain Future


While the international community, through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is promoting a global policy of Education for All (EFA), Cuba stands out as a beacon to other developing countries that have so far been unable to achieve their EFA goals. This paper presents a regional quantitative comparison of eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela—showing that Cuba excels in comparison to her neighboring Latin American and Caribbean countries in a majority of measurable characteristics of education implementation and outcomes. Cuba is also shown to have the highest overall UNESCO EFA ranking among Latin American and non-English speaking Caribbean countries and the only one currently meeting the UNESCO EFA goals. This paper will also show, in contrast, that the government of the United States has published highly detailed and specific plans to appropriate and substantially transform Cuba's education system given the political opportunity. With the changes in Cuba's leadership and apparent anticipation by the United States government of potential political instability in Cuba's foreseeable future, along with inexplicable inconsistencies between Cuba's outstanding education record and the recommendations by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, it is important and relevant to ask the question, "Why does the United States want to interfere in Cuba's education system, and what is potentially to be lost?"

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