“Before 1959 it was the countryside versus the city. The literacy campaign united the country because, for the first time, people from the city understood how hard life was for people before the revolution, that they survived on their own, and that as people they had much in common. This was very important for the new government.”

— Luisa Yara Campos, Cuban literacy museum director

I learned this week that Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Upon further research, I found out that there was huge educational reform in Cuba under Fidel Castro, as well as agrarian and health care reform. Before the Revolution, literacy was 11% for city-dwellers, and 42% for those in the countryside.

I was most interested to learn the reason for such a campaign for literacy in Cuba. Pre-Revolution, there was a great separation of the urban and rural citizens. Volunteers from the city were often ignorant of the poor conditions of rural citizens until their experiences during the literacy campaign. The campaign forced members of different sectors of society to interact with each other, to be relieved of their ignorance of others conditions.

For notorious dictator, Fidel Castro, the goal for the campaign (besides literacy) was to create a collective identity of “unity, [an] attitude of combat, courage, intelligence, and a sense of history”. Everyone in the country joined together for the common good, often displacing themselves to new areas to help in the quest of literacy for all. The effort was labeled a movement of “the people”, and gave citizens a common goal to work towards, increasing solidarity. By 1986, nearly 100% of the Cuban people were considered literate

I think the example of Cuba’s Literacy Campaign shows the great power of literacy sponsorship. Fidel Castro provided the resources and initiative for his country to seek literacy, and they responded with success and a newfound sense of unity. This is a perfect example of how literacy is community building.

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info taken from Wikipedia.com


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