University Introduces Variations

New regulations will be implemented for next academic year in Cuban universities for improvement, equity and pertinence of studies to that level in our country

By: Margarita Barrios

Email: margarita@juventudrebelde.cu

2015-09-09 | 12:31:35 EST
The Minister said that the implementation of a new educational level, called Non-University Higher Education, will be submitted to the Government for approval.The Minister said that the implementation of a new educational level, called Non-University Higher Education, will be submitted to the Government for approval. Photo: Abel Rojas BarallobreZoom
As part of the changes carried out to improve the system for the continuous training of Cuban professionals, the Ministry of Higher Education has adopted a group of measures to be gradually applied, from the 2016-2017 academic year.

Higher Education Minister Dr. Rodolfo Alarcón Ortiz said in a press conference that the current system for continuous training of the graduate, based on a wide profile specialty followed by specialization, is devoid of a legal basis.

“A norm needs to be created establishing it, which will regulate that graduates  trained for a position could be given appropriate training by the employer entity or postgraduate courses to apply for that position.

“Unfortunately, that is only accomplished in the case of Medical Sciences, and a legal support is needed so that we all contribute to that professional’s training, something which is not well understood in our society”.

The Minister said that the implementation of a new educational level, called Non-University Higher Education, will be submitted to the Government for approval. The completion of the middle level will be compulsory before getting into it, the studies will last two or three years, and will be destined to prepare people for specific jobs, which are presently carried out by underemployed professionals.

“The syllabuses will start in jobs where they are most needed, and those who complete it will have subsequent access to university studies”.

Alarcón Ortíz added that this new offer will allow those who fail university entrance examinations to continue studies, or those who don’t want to undertake studies in higher education, but others of shorter duration to access a job. “These are more related to the school level they had passed, since today they are offered the middle-level technician”.

Later, the Minister said that some measures have been already decided, since their adoptions are within the competence of the Ministry of Higher Education, like the reduction of University studies to four years.

If we have a pre-graduate training in broad profile studies, focusing on the solution of general and basic problems of the profession, this will allow us to reduce the time. A study is needed, the design of new syllabuses will be gradual.

“This measure is favorable for the country, whose professionals are trained in a shorter time, and for the people to achieve the university level. This is possible, since coupled with the contents displacement and other measures with the curriculum the training can be reduced.

“It’s also good to say, that the postgraduate syllabuses in Cuba, were superimposed to terminal specialties and there was no coherence, which is what we are trying to correct now”.

Thinking of Individuality     
                
  “The application of equal requirements for the Encounter Courses and Regular Daily Courses has become a psychological barrier rather than a cognitive one, for people who work and has been away from studies for ages going through entrance examination to enter the University, which in fact is not happening”, argued the Minister.

“The established infrastructure is used inappropriately, we have to consider that half the professionals trained in our country throughout the years have taken Encounter Courses”, highlighted Alarcón.

The Minister expressed that a modification was decided in the current process for entering the University on Encounter Courses and also on Distance Education. “We have to pay attention to the particularities of these types of course and the people enrolled in them”, he said.

“We are going to include entrance requirements in a term of studies within the University specialty. The students enter the University directly with higher-middle level complete. The subjects won’t have a say, instead, the students have to prove, in some term, that they meet the standard knowledge.

“We are going to continue with the syllabuses of Encounter Courses in the Municipal Universities, with practically no students, so they can study there the specialties needed in those territories, promoting local development, and when the applicants exceed the places, the University will decide how to select them”.

Likewise, he said that different levels of face to face training in Encounter Courses, so far on Saturdays, will be established. “This will depend on the condition of students, the schools, the capacities; they will be offered in the afternoon, in the evening, on weekends, everyone will fit them to specific needs”.

The need for validating knowledge acquired out of the university institution should be also reinforced through aptitude tests true to the principle stating that all knowledge has some value, the Minister explained. 

“We are considering and applying gradually a new model of Distance Education, based on modern pedagogy and on new technology. Today, this modality is backward, with a few offers for study and with the new proposals we’ll make another step towards equity for the access to Higher Education”.
Professionals with Perfect Command of English   

The requirement for the use of English in the “independent user” category to pass all the university studies will be one of the changes in professional training. For this, new steps will be implemented in the universities of the country.

“Every university will include courses at different levels, to be entered by the students according to their interests, since the language arises from the curriculum. We’ll also have computing platforms for self-learning with free access for the student, who should prove command of the language.
“This will be implemented gradually, because we should solve groundwork issues, before applying it”, the Minister noted.

Hand in Hand with Pedagogical Studies  
  
The Ministry of Higher Education will favor the planned places coverage for studying pedagogical specialties, since it’s imperative to complete the teaching availability with professionals graduated in those specialties.

In this regard, the Ministry of Higher Education has created a package of measures, which are not all to be applied in every university, but depending on the needs of the territory.

Alarcón Ortiz said that, firstly, the graduates of Secondary School will be offered the chance of studying eleventh and twelfth grade at the University or just the latter; but in all the cases the final exams of high school would include the requirements of the entrance examinations and, therefore, there would be direct access to pedagogical studies, he said.

“Likewise, the winners of gold, silver, or bronze medal in national and provincial contests will be awarded with pedagogical specialties. Thereby, we encourage the participation in these contests, as well as to promote the attraction of young talent towards teaching activities”.

He insisted that the pedagogical schools availability will be enlarged, offering these specialties as an incentive for the most outstanding ones to enter the University as an opportunity to continue to study this science. The rest, which is the majority, will return to work and there they’ll have the possibility of entering Encounter Courses to train for bachelor degrees.

In addition, the current course of mid-level pedagogical training will change into a Non-University Higher Education syllabus, and this type will be offered to graduates of polytechnic to train for teachers of that level. Meanwhile, for those coming from the High School level, the pedagogical studies narrow down to four years.

Finally, the Minister announced changes in the curriculums for pedagogical studies, which are offered today as two-subject: Mathematics-Physics, Geography-Biology, Computing-Labor Education, to train specialists in a single subject.

All this, he highlighted, is aimed at the constant improvement, equity and pertinence of the countries’ Higher Education.
 
Translated by ESTI 

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