Close to two million Cuban students of different levels of education returned to classrooms this Monday at the beginning of the school year, amid blackouts of up to 18 hours, shortages and a totally overwhelmed country and in a crisis with no short-term solution.
Primary, secondary, pre-university and technical-professional education have a total enrollment of 1,697,299 students, while university students amount to 280,000 students, the latter are estimated not to finish the course and end up fleeing communism through Nicaragua and later arriving to US.
All students will be put to the test after a summer of insomnia, marked by the worsening of the health situation due to the lack of electricity, water and the increase in viral diseases, the shortage of food and medicines, as well as the effects of the monetary system and the dollarization of the economy.
Once classes started, the Cuban Electric Union (UNE) announced that there would be service disruptions due to generation capacity deficit during the day and night and many students were in dark classrooms without being able to carry out school activities normally.
In provinces such as Havana, Artemisa and Holguín, people face problems with the water supply due to breakdowns that prevent the regular pumping of the liquid, according to the authorities. Residents have complained of not having access to the service for two or even three consecutive weeks.
Added to the above is the flour deficit that affects the production and distribution of bread -the Cuban breakfast par excellence- in various territories of the country during the last two weeks of August and has not yet been restored.
To cite just one example, at the end of August, the deputy director of the Provincial Food Industry Company in Santiago de Cuba, Elizabeth Perera Segura, explained to the state press that the availability of flour was 0.5%, that is, , its coverage was only enough for half a day, which represented a high deficit and prevents guaranteeing the timely sale of bread.
Likewise, Cuban mothers have publicly declared their refusal to take their children to school, either because of the fatigue caused by sleeping without ventilation due to the lack of electricity, or because of the impossibility of buying snacks or guaranteeing them transportation. to attend classes; Not counting the astronomical prices of shoes and backpacks that are double the minimum wage and often only available in dollars.
The energy crisis that Cuba is going through, the most alarming since the 1990s, and consequently the instability in electricity and water services, as well as the consequent effects on food production and on the country’s other economic activities, do not have short term solution.
Another challenge for this new school year is the educational coverage that, according to the Minister of Education Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, is estimated at just over 250,000 teachers for the 10,793 educational centers in the country. Nothing has been reported by the MINED about the impact on the educational process of the current crisis and the mass exodus of teachers due to low salaries and inflation.
Of the total of educational centers, only 1,436 benefit from repair and maintenance works, “We have not been able to intervene in all those that need it, an issue that generates dissatisfaction in many families,” lamented the minister and acknowledged, without revealing numbers, that there is a “remarkable number of institutions with constructive situations evaluated as fair and poor”.