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Social Problems in the World Around Us

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Emily Smouse

Human Development

The Cuban Literacy Campaign was a year-long effort to abolish illiteracy in Cuba after the Cuban Revolution. It was a national priority to improve education and literacy skills. It began on January 1 and ended on December 22, 1961, becoming the world's most ambitious and organized literacy campaign. In the film, it explains how these people were under a dictatorship and that children from their early teens were teaching adults how to speak the language. One interview explained that they weren't only teaching them the language, they were like doctors teaching them health habits and living habits. This impacted Cuba greatly, having the ability to teach other people so much through this program with younger children. The words Circulos Infantiles and Vias Noformale mean teaching informally through children.

When thinking that these children were in their early and later teens shocked me. In the film all of the children seemed very excited to be new literacy volunteers . One of the girls even said she faked her parents signature just to be able to go to the beach side town Varadero. I don't think I would be confident at the age to travel to one of the rural areas talked about in the film. I remember being very shy when I was younger. I can't even imagine to be given three days to learn the functions of a town or village in a rural area and become comfortable with the people to teach in their own homes. Some of the challenges that these children faced were not only when helping teach literacy, but working in the field. I know I could help out in this part because I work at a stable which requires manual labor. It's amazing how these students even remained positive and kept teaching when one of the volunteers were killed by insurgents. They overcame this by working hard to break the taboos to become a family. The volunteers became very close with the families they were working with which encouraged the literacy program to continue and grow.

Some parents in the film were resistant to let their children join the literacy program because they would be letting their child spend hours with strangers to teach them. This would be very controversial today in the United States. In addition, I do not think my family would let me travel like the literacy volunteers because they would be too scared for my safety. There are many factors in today's society such as war and combat that make this campaign seem impossible in today’s society. We could not go on our field trip because of these similar factors.

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