Fifty-five years ago, an army of teachers on a mission, led by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, won a great victory, defeating the ignorance suffered by the country’s people – reason enough to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the proclamation of Cuba as an illiteracy-free nation, yesterday December 22, now Educators Day.
The event also served as a tribute to the country’s greatest teacher, Fidel. It
took place in the former Ciudad Libertad educational complex, a military base prior to the 1959 Revolution, and was presided by First Vice President and member of the Party Political Bureau, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.
Speaking in the name of the thousands of volunteer teachers who participated in the campaign was Zoila Benítez, who recalled that Fidel “charted the campaign’s strategy guided by the principles of national unity, massive availability of culture, and confidence in Cuba’s youth.”
Among those who learned to read and write during the historic 1961 campaign was José René Fuentes Cintado, who commented, “There is nothing more alienating than being unaware of the things that happen around us, not knowing the reasons behind each one. We were born to a mother called literacy in 1961, a product of another even more beautiful one, the undefeated, glorious Cuban Revolution.”
Also speaking were Octavio Peña Toledo, a student at the Fulgencio Oroz School of Pedagogy, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, who emphasized the great responsibility teachers bear, as well as Olga Lidia Tapia Iglesias, from the Party Secretariat, who discussed current challenges facing educators.
Also in attendance were Mercedes López Acea, Political Bureau member, a Council of State vice president, and Party secretary in Havana; Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, secretary general of the Cuban Workers Federation; the ministers of Education and Higher Education, Ena Elsa Velásquez Cobiella and José Ramón Saborido Loidi, respectively.
Special guests included Armando Hart Dávalos, director of the National Literacy Program in 1961, and José Ramón Fernández Álvarez, revolutionary leader and Presidential advisor.