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"The Right Priorities: Health, Education, and Literacy"
PBS ^ | December 21, 2004 | Miren Uriarte

Posted on 01/12/2014 3:00:16 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

"Cuba's achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations, ostensibly far richer. [Cuba] demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities - health, education, and literacy." -- Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, April 11, 2000

When Cuba's revolution came to power in 1959, its model of development aimed to link economic growth with advances in social justice. From the start, transforming economic changes were accompanied by equally transforming social initiatives. For example, in 1959, Cuba carried out a profound agrarian reform which ended latifundia in the island and distributed land to thousands of formerly landless small farmers. Alongside this fundamental reform were programs directed at providing health care and education to the farmers and their families. A national health system and its rural health services were introduced in 1959; only 8% of the rural population had access to health care at that time. The National Literacy Campaign of 1961, recognized as one of the most successful initiatives of its kind, mobilized teachers, workers, and secondary school students to teach more than 700,000 persons how to read. This campaign reduced the illiteracy rate from 23% to 4% in the space of one year.

Initiatives in the cities were no less ambitious. Urban reform brought a halving of rents for Cuban tenants, opportunities for tenants to own their housing, and an ambitious program of housing construction for those living in marginal shantytowns. New housing, along with the implementation of measures to create jobs and reduce unemployment, especially among women, rapidly transformed the former shantytowns.

The swift pace of change of the early years gave way to more measured advances, but the values that framed those initiatives have greatly influenced the body of social policy in Cuba. Cuban social policy is characterized by its emphasis on universal coverage and reach for all programs and for all educational, health, and social benefits. These are seen as part of a "social wage" that workers accrue in addition to their monetary wage.

Social policy has also favored the development of equity across society, including the equitable distribution of benefits across all sectors of the population, sometimes favoring the most vulnerable. In the last 40 years Cubans have greatly reduced differences in income between the lowest and the highest paid persons. Women have benefited significantly from the revolution as they have educated themselves and entered the labor force in large numbers. The differences among Cubans of different races have also been reduced.

Cuban social policy is also characterized by the exclusive participation of the public sector in its development and execution. The government assumes responsibility for financing social programs and for providing all social benefits.

The programs and subsidies that make up Cuba's safety net cover its citizens from cradle to grave. They have led the island to outcomes that, especially in health and education, are almost universally recognized as positive. The 1999 Human Development Index (H.D.I.), which measures basic dimensions of human development -- longevity, knowledge, and a decent standard of living -- ranked Cuba 58 out of 174 countries. Primary indicators for Cuba were: life expectancy at birth (75.7 years), adult literacy rate (95.9%), combined enrollment in school (72%), and per capita income (est. $3100)...

Health Care

Health care is considered a right of Cuban citizens and is provided free of charge. Health care was nationalized in Cuba in 1961, although some physicians continued to operate privately and a very small number still do so today. When, in 1959, Cuba began the process of transforming the health status of its population, it faced some important challenges. First of all, most health care was concentrated in urban areas, and was offered through a network of private clinics and a weak public system that was generally regarded as deficient. Second, in the first years after the revolution, about one-half of the physicians left the country, many in the wake of the socialization of medicine. Cuba was left with the burden of caring for its people with greatly diminished resources and the need to train almost all its medical personnel. But it was also left with the opportunity to develop a health care system from the ground up. And it developed a system that has attracted the attention of the world for its reach, its access, and its orientation to prevention. Health outcomes worsened during the first decade of the revolution as the system was put in place, but outcomes recovered by 1970 and have continued to improve to this day....


Education is also considered a right of every citizen and is provided free of charge at every level. The Cuban educational system includes pre-primary, primary (1 to 6), secondary (7 to 9), and pre-university or technical/professional education (10 to 12). University education is also available. The evolution in this area is similar. In 1959, the educational attainment of Cubans stood at third grade. Forty-five percent of primary school children did not attend school, and 23% of the population over 10 years old was illiterate. The National Literacy Campaign reduced the illiteracy rate to 4% in 1961; the illiteracy rate in Cuba has remained under 10% and today stands at 6.8% of the population. According to the United Nations, the rate of literacy among people 15 and older in Cuba was 97%, compared to 99% in Canada and the United States, 96% in Costa Rica, and 83% in the Dominican Republic. In the 1960s and 1970s, schools were constructed, and a system of scholarships was instituted that assured that all children, regardless of where they lived or the economic situation of the family, would be able to attend school. The number of children in the labor force, low even in 1960 when compared to Latin America as a whole, first decreased and then dropped to zero as the availability of schools led to dramatic increases in the rates of enrollment in primary, secondary (high school), and tertiary (university or professional school) education...

In 1980, 98.8% of the children 6-11 were attending primary schools. Enrollments in secondary education also climbed from 14% in 1960 to a high of 90% in 1990... Enrollments in higher education increased from a low of 7% in 1970 to a high of 21% in 1990. These enrollments were strongly affected by the economic crisis of the 1990s, dropping to 12% in 1996. Nevertheless, the educational attainment of Cubans has translated into a highly educated workforce: of all Cuban workers, 14% have a university degree.

Culture for All

Another area that strongly reflects the universality present in Cuban social policy is arts and culture. As early as 1959, several new cultural institutions were founded in Cuba that would become important to the development of art and culture across Latin America: Casa de las Americas, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry (I.C.A.I.C.), the National Theatre, the National Ballet, the National Symphonic Orchestra, and the National Folkloric Group. The literacy campaign also raised Cuban capacity to fully engage in the arts and culture. These developments alone would have enhanced the life of the Cuban people. But what has most characterized the process of cultural development in Cuba is the massive participation and access to arts and culture that is available to the Cuban people.

TOPICS: Education; Government; Health/Medicine; Society
KEYWORDS: communism; cuba; equality; obamacare; socialjustice; socialwage
Think about this essay on Cuba while listening to Barack Obama's upcoming State of the Union lecture.
1 posted on 01/12/2014 3:00:17 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All
Miami Herald Jan 11, 2014: Health Foundation of South Florida invests in partnerships for healthy communities "..........Collaboration among residents and other stakeholders in a community is a central tenet of the Health Foundation’s work, whether it’s partnering with area primary-care physicians to increase access to preventive medicine, or working with local schools to teach children and their parents about nutrition, said Richard Laviña, board chairman and regional president of HSBC Bank.

“The basic role of the foundation is healthcare-related sustainable social investment. That’s the way I view it,’’ he said. “It doesn’t work if everybody isn’t involved.’’

Since its inception in 1993, the Health Foundation has awarded more than $104 million in grants to 330 organizations to support community health programs in South Florida......

.......the group’s leadership has focused the Health Foundation’s efforts on specific areas, including primary care, behavioral health, preventive health and programs that promote good nutrition and regular physical activity — funding priorities that receive about 80 percent of grants."

The Health Foundation also funds strategic initiatives that can take two to seven years, including programs to promote healthy aging, school fitness and nursing through scholarships.

“You just can’t address health problems in one population or one ethnic group,’’ Marcus said. “You have to apply different methods and different approaches to different populations.’’

2 posted on 01/12/2014 3:06:14 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Wow, that must mean the Cuban Navy is overwhelmed keeping refugees from sailing in.

3 posted on 01/12/2014 3:06:52 AM PST by AU72
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To: AU72

What with that marvelous “social wage” they get along with their “monetary wage” it’s a real communist paradise.

4 posted on 01/12/2014 3:10:03 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Education Indoctrination

Education Marxist indoctrination is also considered a right responsibility of every citizen and is provided free of charge mandated at every level.

Compulsory "Public" Education (and the Marxist Propaganda it is wrapped in) sure has its advantages for authoritarian regimes to maintain their hold on power.

At least we don't have that here in the US. Oh wait...

5 posted on 01/12/2014 3:46:23 AM PST by sargon (I don't like the sound of these here Boncentration Bamps!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Personally I think the economy and the real employment numbers in context should be near the top of the heap. The numbers are truly manufactured if you’re really paying attention to the world around you.

6 posted on 01/12/2014 4:14:32 AM PST by jsanders2001
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To: sargon; jsanders2001

The 50+ year “war” by the Left against poverty and against capitalism has yielded one outcome - failure.

7 posted on 01/12/2014 4:35:42 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

If Cuba is such a success then why have thousands and thousands risked their lives trying to escape from there and virtually nobody has ever risked their live trying to immigrate and live there?

8 posted on 01/12/2014 5:33:53 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Blah, blah, blah, blah..................

Is that “FREEDOM” thingy somewhere in the mix?

Didn’t think so.

9 posted on 01/12/2014 5:52:57 AM PST by Flintlock ( islam is a LIE, mohammed was a CRIMINAL, shira is POISON.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Cuba's achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita.

This is from PBS, and my first thought was - OMFG - MY TAX DOLLARS PAID FOR THIS BULLSH!!

My second thought was that the first statement from the article is amusing if you have enough critical thinking skills to understand that Cuba's GDP per capita would undoubtedly be infinitely higher if it weren't for the dead hand of Communism holding them back. These pointy headed ultra lefties love to use Cuba as an example of how good things are under socialism, but ignore all the reports about how bad life in Cuba really is.

As the great philosopher Ron White says, "Ya can't fix stupid".

10 posted on 01/12/2014 5:54:58 AM PST by Hardastarboard (The question of our age is whether a majority of Americans can and will vote us all into slavery.)
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To: Hardastarboard
Everything in Cuba is state created, sanctioned, implemented and monitored. These statistics are meaningless.

A Cuban citizen is literally a PRISONER. Nothing more than a piece of property to be managed by the BIG BROTHER.

God it makes me sick to think of the hopelessness, the servitude.

I would GLADLY die a happy man in defense of Individual Liberty.

11 posted on 01/12/2014 6:19:37 AM PST by Awgie (truth is always stranger than fiction)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Wow. A communist run and financed broadcasting company worshipping a communist dictatorship. Shocker.

12 posted on 01/12/2014 10:52:31 AM PST by Organic Panic
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