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Why Cuban Schoolteachers Are Quitting their Jobs Massively

By: Guest Contributor - Mar 20, 2017, 3:56 pm
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Teachers claim their main reason for leaving is low salaries. (Flickr)

By Rosa Magdalena Aviles Carballo/ HABLEMOS PRESS.

EspañolMAYABEQUE, CUBA — Teachers and other education professionals started leaving their jobs at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year in Cuba’s Mayabeque province. Over the next few months, many followed suit.

This year’s figure constitutes the biggest exodus of teachers since 1998, according to a source from the Provincial Education Directorate.

“The accumulation of teachers who left classrooms this 2016-2017 period exceeds 250 … and in this province alone!” said a source speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Educators left their schools in three stages: at the end of the last school year, during the first week of September and then throughout the following months — all arguing they receive extremely low salaries.

A primary and secondary teacher earns between 450 and 500 Cuban pesos, or about US $20 a month.

In the last 10 years, wage increases for teachers amounted to around US $3. Meanwhile, workloads and responsibilities were multiplied due to a lack of educators.

At the beginning of 2016-2017 school year, the Ministry of Education of the province was silent about the exodus of teachers.

Some also reportedly left due to a lack of “appropriate conditions to exercise their profession,” poor quality of food in schools and difficulties in getting to and from work.

As the problem has grown, increasingly fewer people are entering the teaching field. Though there is a teacher training school in the Mayabeque province, “Pedro Albizu Campos,” which this year welcomed 600 students, many have abandoned the career path altogether.

“The teachers we currently have in schools throughout the province are mainly older than 50,” the source said.

Yailen Sanchez, a student, said to be a teacher is to die of hunger, and that she would never pursue the profession. Instead, she chose gastronomy.

“Maybe I can work in tourism,” she said, “which is where teachers are going, because they pay better.”

Teachers receive more dividends for private, off-the-books services often taught out of their homes. Others resort to fraud, or are allowed to receive gifts from students to improve their grades after difficult exams.

 

“It is likely that many other teachers will continue to abandon their jobs and look for better salaries in the private sector,” said María de los Ángeles Rodríguez, a Cuban history teacher who left last year.

“In general, the whole country is affected by this situation, off-the-book classrooms are popping up where professionals have the opportunity to teach higher quality classes because when students pay for their lessons, they are obliged to pay more attention and respect,” said Nora, an English teacher, who runs a home with 10 students, three hours a day from Monday to Friday, for two dollars a week.

“I’m afraid to tell you this,” Nora said. “In Cuba, private schools are not allowed, though it is clear that a student learns better according to the care that the professional can offer, and the results justify the professional’s payment.”

This note was originally published in Hablemos Press, an independent Cuban media outlet. The PanAm Post has established a strategic alliance with Hablemos Press to present Cuba’s reality to our readers, which is ignored by the traditional media.

Brazilian President Took Foreign Diplomats to Dinner to Disprove Meat Scandal

By: Karina Martín - Mar 20, 2017, 3:53 pm
Brazilian Meat

Español Brazilian President Michel Temer is mobilizing to help end the controversy over the sale of rotten meat, manipulated food, and bribe payments to the ruling party. President Michel Temer and his agriculture minister met with senior diplomats from the European Union, Sweden, Canada and other countries to assure that slaughterhouses were being properly supervised and that Brazilian meat is safe to eat. Read More: Brazil: Temer Ally Elected President with Workers' Party Support Read More: Brazil's Michel Temer Facing Impeachment for Influence Peddling "This is an urgent matter, since it has repercussions for us both internally and abroad," said the Brazilian president. "We have talked to the embassies so that they can spread the word to their governments regarding any  recent concerns. I invite everyone to go to a Brazilian steak house now." googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); });   Temer dined with more than 30 foreign diplomats at a steak house called Steack Bull, where he spent 119 reais (USD $39) per person. However, according to local media, Temer may have taken the ambassadors to eat imported meat. "At first, Steack Bull manager Rodrigo Carvalho said that imported and Brazilian meat was served [...] but later changed his story," reported the G1 news site. Temer chose that steak house to prove the quality of Brazilian meat, but the origin of the food served to the leaders has been questioned after the reports published by the press. Steack Bull's own employees reported that they also serve meat imported from Australia. Likewise, workers pointed out that since the rotten meat scandal, the restaurant has brought fewer Brazilian products. The presidency has denied the press statements, assuring that "the meat served this Sunday to President Michel Temer and the invited ambassadors was of Brazilian origin." A statement released on Sunday March 19th, by the presidential palace, also reported that the president is ready to "accelerate the auditing process of the establishments cited by the police investigation and that they are 21 in total," since three of them have already been suspended and will be "immediately placed under a special control regime that will be directly reporting to a task force of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA)." "It is important to emphasize that out of 11,000 employees, only 33 are under investigation, and out of the 4,837 businesses subject to inspections, only 21 are allegedly involved in alleged irregularities, and out of those 21, only six have exported products in the last 60 days," he explained. Brazil exports meat to 150 countries, including the United States, European Union, and China, which have all requested an explanation. The Federal Police announced that health inspectors allegedly received bribes from the slaughterhouses to authorize the sale of food unfit for consumption. "They used acid and other chemicals, in some cases carcinogenic, to disguise the physical appearance of the rotten product and its smell," Mauricio Moscardi, head of Brazil's Federal Police, told a news conference. Sources: Bloomberg, BBC, CNN,  El Comercio

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