Washington is blocking educational exchanges between the United States and Cuba by denying entry visas to teachers from the island. According to Lidia Turner, Honorary Chairwoman of Havana’s Teacher’s Association, the US blockade has forced Cuba to organize alternative educational seminars.
In an interview with the daily Granma newspaper, Lidia Turner said that as a researcher and leader of the teacher’s association, she has personally suffered from restricted academic exchanges between Cuban and US professors.
Noting that between 1991 and 1993, the State Department repeatedly denied visas to Cuban teachers who were invited to attend the annual congress of the US Comparative Educational Society, the Cuban teacher said she and others helped organize annual seminars in Havana. She added that through these meetings, US professionals have become acquainted with the tremendous educational achievements in Cuba.
Last year, several US universities offered to sponsor the tenth such seminar in Chicago—rather than holding it in Havana—but the Cuban professors invited to attend were not granted entry visas. She pointed out that under the slogan “Education and Social Justice,” the 12th World Congress of Comparative Educational Societies will take place in the Cuban capital from October 25th through the 29th.
The international event is aimed at supporting the philosophy that social justice is a basic human right, which includes equal opportunities for all persons regardless of race, ethic origin, religion, sex, age, physical or mental shortcomings.
The congress was called by the World Council of Comparative Educational Societies through the Cuban Pedagogical Association. More information is available on the Web site of the Cuban Ministry of Education (http://www.rimed.cu).
The World Council of Comparative Education is a non-governmental organization that works in coordination with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and holds seminars to allow academics, researchers, educators, education planners and other experts to exchange with their counterparts from different parts of the world.
Participants at the upcoming congress in Havana will work on 14 commissions to debate topics such as education, peace, human justice and security, education in situations of conflict and reconstruction, educational policies in today’s changing world and social inclusion.
The Cuban organizers of the 12th World Congress of Comparative Educational Societies hope that the US State Department will allow US professors to travel to the island next week for the meeting.