Cuba's Achievements in Health Care and Public Education Essay

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CUBA’S ACHIEVEMENTS IN PROVIDING HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC ARE BETTER THATN THOSE OF MANY DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. HOW HAS IT MANAGEDTHIS?

There may be some question over Fidel Castro’s achievements in providing economic success, or democracy to Cuba in the last forty five years or so. However Cuba’s record on providing egalitarian health care and education to the masses have generally been agreed as a success story, even by Castro’s old enemy the United States. “To be educated is to be free,” (Marti in Marshall, 1987, p146) has become one of the more popular revolutionary slogans and has been greatly adhered to by Castro’s government. While health care is articulated in the 1975 Cuban constitution as being “the right
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Under the Batista Regime the rich and the middle class tended to send their children to the private Catholic schools while the poor had to use the badly equipped and staffed general schools, or in more rural areas nothing at all. In 1953 the illiteracy rate was 24 per cent of the population. The difference between urban areas and rural areas showed that most of the limited resources were going to the big cities, with illiteracy rates in town being 11 per cent to 42 per cent in the country (Marshall, 1987, p146). Within two years of coming to power Castro had nationalised all private schools and started the first major education initiative, the literacy campaign. This campaign was established not just to educate the city dwellers but to prioritise education for those that had mainly been ignored in the countryside. Over a 100,000 young students travelled into the rural areas to live with and educate the peasant population. 1961 became known as the “Year of Education,” (Perez, 1995, 358) while the slogan of the day being, “If don’t know, learn. If you know, teach” (Marshall, 1987, p147). The campaign became a great success with official government figures suggesting that by 1962 96 per cent of the population was now literate which was the highest rate in Latin America at the time. Even if the official figure may have been some
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