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#4637: GRANMA INT'L: Cuba and Literacy via Radio in Haiti (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
A different message on Haitian radio

Cuban advisors assist in a program to teach Haitians,
whose illiteracy levels run to 65%, to read and write
via the radio

(Granma International staff writer)

SPECIALISTS from the Cuban Ministry of Education
(MINED) are currently in Haiti, where official figures
show that 65% of the population is illiterate, advising
the Secretary of State for Literacy on a new system
aimed at teaching reading and writing via the radio.

The national director of MINED?s Adult Learning
Division, Osvaldo Lara Cruz, told Granma
International that their work in Petite Place Cazeau,
one of Haiti?s nine departments, will reach its
conclusion at the beginning of July. They have been
working there since last year following Haitian President
René Préval?s first visit to Cuba. The program will now
be extended to the country?s southeast and central
departments, with the possibility of further expansion
to other regions in the future.

Lara said that daily classes are being broadcast by
two local Haitian radio stations between the hours of
6-7 a.m. and 6-7 p.m., times that had been found to
be most convenient for listeners. In one program the
presenter gives lessons in the native Creole language,
while French is used exclusively in the other. Both
languages are officially recognized in Haiti.

A team of 18 Cuban advisors and methodology experts
placed themselves at the service of the Haitian people,
giving the benefit of their experience in education,
cooperation and training so that local teachers
will be able to both continue and expand the project.

The team has worked together with the Haitian
secretary of state in producing learning materials,
consisting of a reader and a manual, to accompany
the course, and developing a support network of
local tutors to provide help for those who find
themselves having difficulties or falling behind in
their studies.

América Miranda, the experienced educator and
MINED official leading the Cuban delegation, told
the press some days ago that her team members are
also working with the Haitians in the field. "They go
from house to house in order to see how student
progress tests are being applied. The tests are a
very important part of the project," she says.

Miranda traveled to Haiti on the same flight as the
country?s president after his participation in the
South Summit held in Havana, April 10-14 this year.
She recalled the words spoken by President Fidel
Castro about the project, during a speech last April
commemorating the victory at the Bay of Pigs: "I have
great confidence in that method, which will allow
millions of people in any country to be taught using
only 10 or 12 teachers and a radio station."

Alda Terrero, a MINED expert in adult learning
methodology, told Granma International that this
type of literacy teaching had previously been
attempted for more than 40 years in various countries
around the world, but without achieving the expected
results. She said that one of the major causes of this
lack of success has been attributed to the fact that
"the programs have been financed by non-governmental
organizations, which has meant that when the money
runs out, the course ends abruptly. The will of the state
to assist these efforts is absolutely essential," she

Terrero went on to explain that the courses represent
social rather than preconceived projects and for that
reason, diagnostic work surrounding people?s needs
and motivations is extremely important.

In that respect, vital parts of the project consist
of getting people to understand the importance of
reading and writing skills, together with presenting
course work that contains familiar words associated
with daily routines and family surroundings.

With two thirds of its 27,750 square kilometers
taken up by mountains, 74% of Haiti?s population
estimated at 5,690,000 lives in rural areas. This is
despite the fact that only a third of the Caribbean
country?s land, which is heavily exploited and
overpopulated, is suitable for cultivation.

The country is considered one of the world?s poorest
and is unable to feed all its people. An example of the
problems faced is that at the end of the 1980s, Haiti?s
annual income was only $237 million USD, while
yearly spending reached $402 million USD.

At the end of that decade, the country had around
82,000 telephones, 131,900 radios and 25,000
television sets. It has a total of 4,000 kilometers of
roads, many of which are impassable during the
rainy season.

According to statistics provided by Alda Terrero,
14.7% of the population of Petite Place Cazeau
are illiterate, with women making up two thirds of
that total.

Research has revealed that 90% of the area?s 112
houses have radio receivers and that the most
popular programs are news reports and religious

Interviews with 669 local people showed that
great emphasis is placed on the need to build more
schools. Even though education is free and obligatory
for children between the ages of six and 12 years,
there is a shortage of suitable buildings.

The central and southeastern departments are
relatively inaccessible and have localities with much
higher levels of illiteracy, while in others Creole is
spoken exclusively.


Terrero said that the program had been prepared for
presentation in Niger, after that country?s president
visited Cuba and signed cooperation agreements.
However, political complications caused by the
subsequent death of the president mean that its
implementation has been delayed.

She revealed that Niger?s new government approved
the program two weeks ago and that plans were also
underway to start work with the governments of other
African countries such as Guinea Bissau.

There?s no doubt that projects of this type constitute
an important first step down the long road of
development for poor countries. They often don?t have
sufficient local teachers available to undertake such
fine and important work due to limitations imposed on
them by the international economic order, leaving them
ever more deeply mired in underdevelopment.

This also represents a different message to be sent
over the media?s airwaves, most commonly only used in
the Third World to promote consumerist ideals.

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