To understand better the great success of the Cuban education system it is necessary to go back in time. Before Cuban Revolution, education was unavailable to over half of the Cuban children. Literacy rate was at best 60%. In 1960, the revolutionary government began a war on literacy. Since the Revolution, Cuba has maintained high standards of educational development.
The education system in Cuba is 100% subsidized by the government, it is mandatory until the third grade of basic secondary school, and it is free on all levels, including university education. All students, regardless of age or sex, wear school uniforms with the color denoting grade level. The different levels are divided into primary education (6 years), basic secondary education (3 years), pre-university secondary education (3 years) and higher education (5 or 6 years, depending on the major. Also, the use of uniforms depends on the major).
Primary education gets great priority in the country. The primary-school curriculum includes dance, lessons on health and hygiene, and revolutionary history. Classroom learning is often integrated with basic skills, such as gardening, pruning, wood and metal crafts, and handicrafts. There is a strict maximum of 25 children per primary-school class, many of which have as few as 20. In grades five and six, classes include Cuban history, natural science, geography, and civil education, which is an initial linkage of classroom learning to productive work.
The basic secondary school is based on principles of hard work, self-discipline and love of country. As well as primary schools, secondary schools are equipped with all the necessary audio-visual media, including computers, to provide quality education. At the end of basic secondary education, students can choose between pre-university education and technical and professional education. Technical training leads to two levels of qualification, “skilled worker and middle-level technician”.
Higher education in Cuba means the University education. Higher institutes, higher pedagogical institutes, centers of higher education and higher polytechnic institutes. The Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for higher education and it controls teaching, methodology, courses and programs and the allocation of student places, as well as the specialization courses offered by centers of higher education that come under the control of other ministries. All higher education institutions are public and have the same status.
All Cuban children, without exception, are guaranteed schooling and it is free. No child is denied an education, not even those who live in remote areas of the country, who are very poor or have special learning needs. These are just some of the reasons why education system of Cuba is so successful.