Education in Cuba

Cuba – education

After the revolution of 1959, three basic goals were set for a reform of education: 1) school education for all, 2) combating illiteracy and 3) general adult education for the development and maintenance of acquired school skills.

The reform work was started immediately. As early as 1959, the first school law was passed, and in 1961, all education became state and free.

Illiteracy is now claimed to have been eradicated, with 99% (2003) completing primary education. Characteristic of Cuban education is the so-called polytechnic principle, which is sought to be implemented also at the primary school level and implies that strong emphasis is placed on the connection between the theoretical study and the productive work in society.

There is ten years of compulsory schooling (5th-15th year). The Cuban education system consists of a 1-year preschool up to the 5th year and a 6-year primary school (6th-12th year) with an incipient professional specialization in the last two grade levels. The secondary educations are either general or polytechnic and divided into two stages: a lower one (12th-15th year) and a higher one (15th-18th year). At the higher level, the polytechnic schools have the character of vocational schools.



POPULATION: 11,170,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)

AREA: 110,860 km²


RELIGION: Catholics 85%, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews and Santeria 15%

COIN: pesos




POPULATION COMPOSITION: mixed (mulattoes, mestizer) 51%, white 37%, black 11%, other 1%

GDP PER residents: $ 6301 (2010 est.)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 75 years, women 79 years (2007)




Cuba is a Republic of the Caribbean, which is made up of the island of Cuba, the largest of the Greater Antilles, as well as a large number of surrounding islands. After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, through close cooperation with the Soviet Union, Cuba gained the role of the Eastern Bloc’s isolated outpost in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as CU which stands for Cuba.

After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, contacts with the EU and the rest of Latin America have improved, and the socialist planned economy is slowly being reformed. As of 2014, relations with the United States are being normalized following diplomatic isolation that has lasted largely since the 1959 revolution.

Cuba – Constitution

The Socialist Constitution of 1976 was amended in 1992 so that the first direct elections to the National Assembly could take place in 1993. The 609 members (2005) are elected in direct elections from candidate lists compiled by special commissions. The majority of those nominated are members of Cuba’s Communist Party, PCC., Which is the only authorized party. The National Assembly elects a State Council of 31 members to represent itself outside the two annual meetings. The President of the Council of State is both head of state and head of government. The executive and administrative power lies with a Council of Ministers appointed by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the President.

Cuba – social conditions

Before the revolution, Cuba was characterized by great economic and social inequalities, especially between country and city. The significant prosperity was primarily concentrated in Havana. The post-1959 reforms were primarily aimed at accommodating the poor rural population; in turn, conditions for the urban middle class generally deteriorated, and many fled abroad.

One of the goals of the regime was to create a society free from poverty and discrimination. It has succeeded in part through persistent efforts, but the economic crisis has eroded social progress since the late 1980’s, and economic reforms have once again intensified the trend towards economic and social inequality. There are no statistics available on income distribution in Cuba, but poverty has become more visible since the 1990’s. The health care system lacks resources for medicine and equipment, which is in stark contrast to the large number of doctors Cuba sends to other countries in Latin America and Africa. Cuba has the highest number of doctors per 100,000 residents (588). In Denmark, the number is 322.

Social legislation is among the most advanced in Latin America. The retirement age is 55 for women and 60 for men, and the pension is 50% of the most recent income. However, local wages are so low that they are not even enough to meet basic needs, which is why many are trying to earn other income in convertible currency that can be used in state-owned dollar stores.

Gender equality is guaranteed by law. There is a well-developed network of day care institutions with free meals for the children, which means that more women can study or work. The divorce rate is very high and many mothers are single.

The economic downturn, the new economic policy and the new mass tourism have contributed to the creation of a black market that forms a fertile breeding ground for crime. In addition, prostitution is again very widespread, especially in the big cities. Enrichment crime and drug abuse are growing problems, and corruption has grown since the 1980’s, but is far less than in most other Latin American countries. Check youremailverifier for Cuba social condition facts.

Cuba – health conditions

A Cuban’s average life expectancy is 75 years for men, 80 years for women (2009), roughly the same as in Denmark. The mortality rate for children under the age of six, which was 90 ‰ in 1960, is 12 i in 1994. The mortality rate in the first year of life is 10 ‰.

Following Castro’s rise to power, the expansion of healthcare was a high priority. The country now has more doctors per. per capita than Denmark (5.88 per 1000 residents) and almost as many hospital beds (5.8 per 1000 residents). The health service is fully state-funded. Changes in infrastructure with satisfactory water supply has at the same time meant a significant improvement in the state of health.

In 1992-93, more than 50,000 Cubans developed beriberi due to a lack of B 1 vitamin (thiamine). Probably the US trade blockade, launched approximately 30 years earlier and intensified in 1992, a contributing factor to the beriberi epidemic.

Cuba has largely eradicated the traditional tropical diseases. The pattern of disease and mortality is approaching that of the industrialized countries. Mortality due to cancer and heart disease now amounts to resp. 19% and 30% of the total number of deaths.

Cuba – military

The peacekeeping force of the armed forces is (2006) 49,000. The army has approximately 38,000, the fleet (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria) approximately 3000, Air Force (Defensa Antiaérea y Fuerza Aérea) approximately 8000. In addition 26,500 in paramilitary police. The period of service for conscripts is two years. The immediately prepared war reserve for the army is 39,000. Older trained personnel are part of a territorial defense militia (Milicias de Tropas Territoriales), whose total strength is approximately 1 mio. The equipment of the forces is a quantity of old and slightly newer equipment of Soviet make. There are major problems in obtaining spare parts and thus in keeping the weapons in usable condition. The number of operating units is significantly reduced due to cannibalization.

Cuba – mass media

The circulation of the Cuban daily press is very small. In the 1990’s, only one national newspaper was published, the Communist Party’s Granma (Grdl. 1965) due to lack of currency for paper. Granma is also published as a weekly newspaper in several languages ​​and as an online newspaper. After 2000, the trade magazine Trabajadores is also published several times a week.

The island, in turn, is well stocked with radio and television. Ever since Fidel Castro established an illegal radio station in 1956, radio and later television have been an effective propaganda and educational tool. Radio and television are managed by the Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT) (Grdl. 1962), which reports directly to the government. There are several national radio networks, two national television stations and a large number of local stations, all state-owned. The strict censorship is not very effective, as Cubans can receive the radio and television of the surrounding countries. Among them is the banned American Radio Marti, which broadcasts from Miami.

Cuba – visual arts and architecture

Christoffer Columbus found in 1492 during his first visit to Cuba artfully designed clay figures of women as well as statues and ceramics. The earliest Spanish mudéjar-style colonial architecture is preserved in the Casa del Gobierno and the ruins of the 18th-century San Francisco de Paula Monastery in Havana.

The city’s cathedral (1777) is the finest example in baroque architecture; the altars from the 20th century are in neoclassicism, and in this style were built cigar factories, sugar warehouses, public buildings and the Tacón Theater as well as a copy of The Capitol in Washington (1929).

Cuba first exhibited an independent painting with 1920’s modernism. Victor Manuel (1897-1968) united in simple, colorful landscapes and portraits European impressionism with Cuban sensuality. Amelia Peláez (1897-1968) introduced surrealism into images with tropical and colonial motifs.

Also Fidelio Ponce (1895-1949), René Portocarrero (1912-85) and Carlos Enríquez (1900-57) developed typical, often baroque Afro-Cuban themes in the idiom of the European avant-garde.

The most important painter of the period was Wifredo Lam. Caribbean nature, social indignation and anti-colonialist attitudes as well as Afro-Cuban consciousness characterize the revolutionary generation. Manuel Mendive (b. 1944) and José Bedia Valdés (b. 1959) explore African religiosity and ethnographic themes under the influence of a Western philosophical discussion.

Artists such as Ana Mendieta (1948-85) and Luis Cruz Azaceta (b. 1942) emigrated to the United States, where they have approached a North American avant-garde art.

Cuba – literature

In the last third of the 1700’s. Cuba began to acquire a cultural distinctiveness. After the English occupation 1762-64 and under the impression of the more liberal currents from Spain, the first newspaper was founded in 1790, and in 1792 the first public library. The University of Havana had been founded in 1728, but only with Félix Varela (1788-1853) and his students did it gain a role in Cuba’s own culture. He himself characterized his chair as devoted to freedom and human rights. 1800’s many academies and literary journals had independence from Spain and cultural identity as common goals. In the years leading up to the Spanish-American War, José Martí fought in a large number of writings for independence, not only of Spain but also of the monster to the north, the United States.

Cuba had in the 1800’s. his costumbristas, portrayers of daily life, such as Victoriano Betancourt (1813-77) and Cirilo Villaverde (1812-94). The desire for independence early led the latter into the romantic movement, with the novel Cecilia Valdés (1839, completed in exile 1882). The most famous poet and author of the time, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-73), with the novel Sab (1841) focused on another of the main issues in Cuban society: racial conflict, here thematized in the mulatto slave’s relationship to the white daughter of the lordship.

Realism in Cuba has French role models; Carlos Loveira (1882-1928) is often highlighted for his Zola- inspired, judgmental novel Juan Criollo (1927, Creole Juan). The social commitment continued among 1900’s writers partly with criticism of concrete conditions as with Luis Felipe Rodríguez (1888-1947), who described the degradation of the countryside, partly with direct political appeal to Machado’s dictatorship.

The special négritude literature on Afro-Cuban culture counts many fine works, first and foremost Alejo Carpentier’s novel Ecué-Yamba-O (1933); the folklorist Lydia Cabreras Cuentos de Cuba (1940, Tales from Cuba) describes the magical culture of the blacks from within. Among négritude -digterne counted Nicolás Guillén for the best. Carpentier gradually transformed himself from a magical realism into a socialist realism, in his own style inspired by the Baroque. José Lezama Limamoved in content along other paths in his hermetic works, where soul life is treated in a style influenced by the hard-to-reach and obscure Baroque-style gongorism. (See also Góngora).

With Castro’s revolution, a dividing line was drawn. Many younger writers praised the revolution; others preferred exile. Guillermo Cabrera Infante was for a time one of the front figures of the revolution, but emigrated like Servero Sarduy. Both were style-creating in Spanish-language literature. Among the poets, Heberto Padilla (1932-2000) has had a remarkable role: In 1968 he received the Writers’ Association’s award for his book Fuera de juego (Off-side), but was later imprisoned for his criticism of the regime and had to go into exile. The “Padilla case” opened the eyes of many Cuban intellectuals.

Cuba – dance

Cuba’s folk dance is characterized by both Afro-Caribbean, Spanish and French dance. Internationally, however, Cuba is best known for its national ballet. The ballet was introduced to Cuba in 1842 by the romantic ballerina Fanny Elssler, who was followed by various guest dancers. In 1931, the Sociedad Pro-Arte Musical began its own ballet evenings in Havana, leading to the creation of Ballet Alicia Alonso in 1948 and of a school in 1950. At the 1959 revolution, the company changed its name to National Ballet of Cuba, and Fidel Castro named prima ballerina Alicia Alonso to leader. The company’s repertoire has consisted of classics such as Giselle, but has also included Cuban works such as Espacio y Movimiento(1966) by Alberto Alonso and Tarde en la Siesta (1984) by Alberto Méndez.

Alicia Alonso has been Cuba’s all – important ballet personality, both as an international star and as a ballet master for the National Ballet, which she has built into a strong company, partly following the Russian model.

Cuba’s second classical company is Ballet da Camagüey; in addition, there is the modern company Conjunto Nacional de Danza Moderna. Cuba’s folk dance is represented by the company Conjunto Folklórico Nacional. International dance festivals are also held in Havana.

Cuba – film

The sound film in Cuba was 1930-50 dominated by the American company Columbia Pictures’ productions and local musical films. In the 1950’s, the cultural organization Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time), which became the germ of revolutionary Cuban film culture, was founded by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1928-96) and the documentary filmmaker Santiago Alvarez (1919-98), and in 1959 the Cuban Film Institute Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC) was formed.

The new Cuban film was inspired by neorealism and the French New Wave, and one of the favorite motifs was the historical reconstruction. Examples are Lucía (1968) on the liberation of women by Humberto Solás (1941-2008), La primera carga al machete (1969, The first attack on the machete), which themed the War of Independence against Spain, by Octavio Gómez (1934-88) and Gutiérrez Aleas Una pelea cubana contra los demonios (1971, A Cuban struggle against the demons) and the main work La última cena (1976, The Last Supper) about slavery in the 1700’s. In the 1970’s, form experiments and revolutionary ideology went hand in hand in films such as Solás’ Cantata de Chile (1975, The Song of Chile).

Since the 1980’s, critical films such as Alicia en el Pueblo de Maravillas (1991, Alice in Wonderland) by Daniel Díaz Torres (1948-2013) and Fresa y chocolate (1993, Strawberries and Chocolate) by Gutiérrez Alea have brought to the fore the contrast between creative freedom and censorship in Cuba. German Wim Wenders has made the documentary Buena Vista Social Club (1999) about old Cuban musicians.

Cuba – music

Cuban music is poetically described as “the result of a love affair between the Spanish guitar and the African drum”. The African influence is especially reflected in drum and dance traditions such as the Afro-Cuban religion santería, where each god, orisha, has its rhythm and dance, as well as in the secular rumba, where the three types, yambú, guaguancó and columbia, represent a wide spectrum of rhythmic, bodily and social expressions.

A corresponding European dominance is traced in the troubadour tradition as well as the early styles contradanza, danza habanera, which later became habanera, and danzón, which led to the world-famous rhythm and dance cha-cha-cha. Perhaps the strongest and at the same time most equal European-African style is el son, the forerunner of modern salsa. The most important names in the 1990’s are Lázaro Ros (santería), Los Muñequitos de Matanzas (rumba), Los Van Van, Orquesta Revé and NG La Banda (salsa) as well as the troubadours Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez and Carlos Varela.

Cuba – sports

Cuba has, in relation to its size, hatched many international sports stars. The state’s conscious ideological placement of sport and the role of sport in a Marxist society has become a model for countries in Latin America and Africa. The Cuban boxers in particular have made a name for themselves at international competitions and championships, but the female volleyball players have also gained an international reputation.

After the Cuban Revolution, professional sports were banned; instead, the elite athletes have been given the status of state amateurs. At the same time, there is free admission to sporting events, just as the Cubans have free access to use all sports facilities. Together, this has meant mass participation in school and grassroots sports.

Cuba Education