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  • In 1961, Cuba became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to uproot illiteracy in its territory.

    In 1961, Cuba became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to uproot illiteracy in its territory. | Photo: Twitter/@CubaMINREX

Published 8 September 2020
Opinion

The Cuban National Commission for UNESCO remembered this World Literacy Day the contributions of the island nation to this global struggle.

The Cuban National Commission for UNESCO reminded this September 8 of the commitment by the people and the government of Cuba to the global efforts to achieve literacy for all,  on the occasion of commemorating World Literacy Day.

The renewed commitment comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has motivated the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to emphasize "the teaching and learning of literacy during the COVID-19 crisis, including the role played by teachers and the evolution of pedagogies."

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The announcement from the non-governmental entity noted that Cuba joins the commemoration with concrete results, "not only for having eradicated illiteracy in 1961 through the Literacy Campaign...but instead, and more than anything, due to its impressive continued education throughout the country with internationally recognized values, including universal, free and quality access.

Furthermore, Cuba "has shown significant results in its commitment to the global efforts to eliminate illiteracy through international cooperation," the announcement states, exemplifying the application of the teaching method developed by Cuban pedagogues "Yo Si Puedo" ("Yes I Can"), which won the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for its "contribution to the teaching of reading and writing."

The "Yes I Can" methodology has been employed in some thirty countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Oceania, and Europe; among them are Spain, Australia, Angola, Mozambique, Haiti, El Salvador, and Mexico. 

As a result, some 10,604,827 people of all ages have become literate through Havana's advisory, a reason for which the Commission's text today reminded that "it's a shame that throughout the world $1.9 trillion in military expenditure is wasted while 773 million adults, two-thirds of them women, still lack the basic ability to read and write."

Cuba is a territory free of illiteracy since December 1961 when, after two years of an intense campaign, it was able to reduce the illiteracy rate to under 3%, achieved after four and a half centuries of absolutely no schooling for the vast majority of the population. 

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