Education in Cuba
Cuba is known for having very different government policies than we do in the States. Some of their policies include universal health care and free education. To many Americans, this may seem impossible because of how much money it would cost the government and people in order to have free health care and free education. But the Cubans absolutely love it. They love the fact that anyone can go to school, and that the health clinic is free of charge if they need care. Since they are a collectivist society, it just makes sense that they would want a policy that provides for everyone. But of course free schooling does not mean that everyone can go to university on a whim. There are some very interesting measures set in place that allow a student to study a specific field in college. As a college student myself, I felt it would be interesting to share Cuba’s vastly different system of schooling. So I took some notes, and this is what I found:
1. Education, including university, ACTUALLY is free. For Cubans.
This means that if you were considering applying to university in Cuba to get a free degree, then you’re fresh out of luck. As a foreigner, you definitely still have to pay to attend college in Cuba. However, the tuition is a lot cheaper than it is at many schools in the United States, which could be a plus. But the real battle is getting the major you want, which brings me to my next point…
2. You have to win a spot in the major you want.
In the U.S, you apply to colleges with a stated major. In Cuba, you apply to colleges with your top 5 majors ranked. Since they only allow a certain amount of people to work in a certain field, availability of that major depends on the scores of others, and the need for that profession. If Cuba has enough doctors at the moment, you might have to settle for being a teacher. Or if there is great need for doctors, but you were outranked by too many people, all the spots may be full and you might have to settle for your second pick. It is a very competitive process, so working hard in school and excelling on your entrance exam are key factors in getting the occupation you desire. However, there is a major drawback of higher education in Cuba if you are not planning on using it to get a job elsewhere. This is due to point number three.
3. All occupations make the same salary.
This is where Cubans take a hit. Regardless of their job, they all make the same amount at the end of the month. Except for those who work in tourism, since they can make a lot of money in tips. Actually, the highest paying occupation in Cuba is a taxi driver. Crazy, right? For this reason, many Cubans who get higher education in a demanding field, such as the medical field, end up working in other countries. But regardless, the Cuban school system is renowned for producing amazingly skilled workers, so they must be doing something right.