Cuban Educator at UTEP to Discuss Famous Literacy Campaign

What: Cuban educator Felipe Pérez Cruz will speak at UTEP about the Cuban Literacy Campaign, considered one of the most ambitious, well organized and successful literacy efforts of the 20th century.

When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Where: University Library’s Blumberg Auditorium, 1st floor

Felipe Pérez Cruz, Ph.D., a professor of history at Enrique Jose Varona University of Pedagogical Sciences in Cuba, is a leading scholar on a famous Cuban literacy campaign. He plans to discuss it with UTEP faculty, doctoral students and guests.

“I think this presentation will provide a greater understanding of the Cuban education system and its successes,” said Timothy G. Cashman, Ph.D., associate professor of teacher education. Cashman, a specialist in transnational education, presented at a conference in Cuba in February 2015 where he met Cuban Literacy Campaign participants and visited some of the schools established 55 years ago. “It will offer a broader vision of what works and what doesn’t work as you compare systems. For all of us as educators, including doctoral students (in the Teaching, Learning and Culture program), this is part of the process of considering the immense possibilities for our more familiar educational systems.”

Before 1959, an estimated 40 percent of the Cuban population was unable to read or write. The Cuban government organized literacy brigades and launched the Cuban Literacy Campaign in January 1961. By the end of the year, the nation’s literacy rate reached 96 percent.

Volunteers were sent into the country’s rural areas to construct schools and train new educators who lived and worked with the families. The program commissioned 250,000 teacher volunteers who helped teach more than 700,000 people. Of the volunteers, most came from urban communities, more than half were women and 40 percent were younger than 18.

The visit was organized by Elva Reza-Lopez, Ph.D., assistant professor of practice in the Department of Teacher Education; Cashman; Elena Izquierdo, Ph.D., associate professor of teacher education; and UTEP’s UTEDS (United Teacher Education Doctoral Students).