Education is one of the prime occupations of every country. It is seen as an important aspect of successful national development. Every country has its specific educational system that meets the needs of the society. The educational system is a result of the country’s social political and cultural development. (“Cuba Education”, 2010, n. p.) Today, with the growth of demanding to the academic level of working professionals and rapid growth of requirements to the quality of education at national and international levels, achieving of high standards of education is a very important condition to enhance national education and improvement of educational policies. (The Education Act, 1996, n. p.)
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In order to meet all high standards, the funding of educational system is crucial. This paper is devoted to comparison and contrasting the approaches taken to funding in the English and Cuban education and how it influences on the quality of education and help in achieving of high international standards.
English and Cuban systems of education from cultural, national and historical perspectives
Educational systems of England and Cuba are considered to be one of the best in the world (Mesa-Lago, 1972, p. 12). English education has a long history, and modern Cuban system of education was developed after revolution (“Education in Today’s Cuba”, 2010, n. p.). These countries have very different cultures, political and social systems, however, both of the pay great attention to the quality of education and provide developed systems of findings in order to support it (Holman, 2006, p. 17).
The educational system in England “has a long tradition and always played a major role in politics” (Bottcher, 2009, p. 3). The principles of modern educational system are described in the Education Act of 1996 which provides information about the organization of educational system, stages of education, responsibilities of state governed, private and religious educational establishments (The Education Act, 1996, n. p.). According to the Act (1996), “every person has right for free and qualitative secondary education. The Act also starts the functions of the secretary of states and provides full information about funding authorities and their functions” (n. p.).
Thus, 1996 Education Act of the UK states that The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise” (The Education Act, 1996, Sec. 7). The educational system of Cuba was formed after the Revolution in 1959 when Castro banned private educational institutions and provided a system governed by the government, he strongly criticized the existence of private schools (Mesa-Lago, 1972; Bunck, 1994). Before the revolution, one quarter of population in Cuba was illiterate (“Cuban Education Guide”, 2010, n. p.).
However, a comprehensive education policy helped raise the literate standards to 95 %. Cuban educational policy ensures that every person has right for education which is free at elementary and fundamental levels; education should ensure a full development of personality and educate people with respect to human rights and freedoms; Cuban system of education provides parents with the right to choose any kind of education for their children (Cazabon, 1988, n. p).
In addition, the Cuban government “stresses the function of education in facilitating political indoctrination of the population and value education as a way to foster social equality” (Gomez, 2008, p. 3). English education ensures free and obligatory education for all children from 5 to 16 (Holman, 2006, p. 8). In Cuba, children should get a compulsory education from 6 to 16 (Gasperini, 2000, n.p.). In the English system of education, the funding is individual, as well as state responsibility, while Cuban government is fully responsible for funding (Gasperini, 2000, n.p.).
Appropriate funding of education is one of the main tasks and responsibilities of every government (Holman, 2006, p. 7). England has a very developed system of findings: they can come from government, state institutions and private organizations. Unlike the English educational system, the Cuban system if higher education is free for everybody and funds come from the government. “It is the Ministry of Higher Education that is responsible for providing funds for all institutions” (“Cuba Education”, 2010, n. p.).
These days, as well as after the early days of revolution, “Cuba’s educational system, along with health care, has been a priority of the government” (Marquis, 2001). The higher education in Cuba is associated with the University education (“Cuba Education”, 2010, n. p.). The funding for the University education includes scholarship, tuition fees and all necessary materials for students, including housing and food (Gomez, 2008, n. p.). These days, the government commitment in funding is great, but the system experiences difficulties (Canino, 2004, p. 65). There are many factors that make funding a challenge (Canino, 2004, p. 75).
The major challenge include economic difficulties, national and international services and constantly grooving tension on the education administrations to make them demonstrate that allocated funds are being used efficiently (Cárdenas, 2003, p. 3). Since 1991, Cuban higher education had experienced few barriers (Canino, 2004, p. 65). Few limitations that were placed on Cuban educational system were used to achieve efficiencies in the use of funds. (Gasperini, 2000, n.p.) There were considerable funding for education teachers and purchasing necessary equipment (I Mesa-Lago, 1972, p. 72).
In general, only few insignificant goals were not fulfilled. (Canino, 2004, p. 72). However, with the improvement of the country’s economy, the funding of higher education also improves. What conditions promote the quality of education and good funding system in Cuba? According to Lavinia Gasperini (2000), these conditions are: qualitative basic education, fostering communities participation in management of schools, great attention to teachers, low-cost instructional materials of high quality, complementary educational programs for those outside school and big government involvement into the educational process (p. 7).
The funding systems in Cuba and England
The funding system in England has a long history. Beginning with the 1870, the government began to give a great support to general education. Support for school included parliamentary grants, local taxes, school pence, endowments and private subscriptions(Ward, 2007; Seeley, 1899) Religious institutions were supported by public funds that were usually determined by local authorities (Holman, 2006, p. 160).
These days, English government is the major body which provides funds for higher education, only private institutions get funds from private organizations. (Greenaway and Haynes, 2003, p. 151). The system of grants is also well developed. Students can apply for grants from commercial and private organizations in order to lead researches (The Education Act, 1996, n. p.). Before 1960s, all universities in the United Kingdom were publicly funded.
Over the past 20 years, public fund per student has declined significantly (50 %), it resulted in increasing number of students and decline in research infrastructure. (Greenaway and Haynes, 2003, p. 153). The government provides grants for students who need it and support them with tuition and maintain loans to students. (Greenaway, and Haynes, 2003, p. 156). However, students still depend of the parents’ financial support, especially, if they attend higher educational establishment away from their homes. (Shepherd, 2010, par 4).
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The meaning of funds for improvement of quality of education
According to the recent statistics, England has a level of literacy 99% and Cuban “The literacy rate is currently 98% with an average 12 grade level” (“Education in Today’s Cuba”, 2010). Obviously, it is a result of the appropriate funding system, as it is crucial for the development of the educational system (“Education in Today’s Cuba”, 2010). It goes without saying that free and compulsory secondary education is beneficial both for people, as they have the opportunity to get a qualitative education, and for government, as it prepares the basis for the education of future professionals (Norman, 2009; Besant, 2004).
Review a Critical Incident
During my course of study, there were many critical incidents in my formal education that held some significance for me. One of the most memorable moments that encouraged and stimulated my future study was during my two years study in England. I have a degree in Law, but now I have decided to follow a career into teaching because teacher in that subject is very supportive. Once I have difficulties with completing a report. It was very difficult for me. My teacher supported me and I could address him with every difficult question. He made me believe in myself and in my opportunities. I understood that teacher is a person who not only help you study material, but who give you a psychological support. May be this situation influenced on my decision to become a teacher.
Speaking about incorporation of two educational systems, I can suggest that incorporating Cuban and English systems can be really beneficial for students, as well as for teachers, “in a growing effort to recognize and reward teachers for their contributions to students’ learning, a number of states and districts are retooling their teacher evaluation systems to incorporate measures of student performance” (Steele, Hamilton, and Stecher, 2010, n. p.). According to Brown, Brenner and the article “The Cuban Education System”, Cuban students score much better than other their Latin America peers. The reason is that the Cuban education system pays great attention to the quality of teachers.
The teacher training in Cuba is really rigorous and all teachers profoundly learn an active pedagogy that id focused on teaching the national curriculum (Brenner, 2008, p. 56). A regular and intensive monitoring of teachers and evaluation of their work is in the spotlight of the educational system. One important moment is the student-teacher relations that last long and the Montessori Method (that presupposes a psychological connection between tutor and his/her pupils that is established as a consequence of long-term teacher-pupil relations) is used (Brown, 2008, n. p.). It means that students should spend with the primary school teacher up to 6 years. (Brown, 2008, n. p.). So, I believe that Cuban approach to the education of teachers can be applied to the education of English teachers.
Funding plays an important role in the development of qualitative educational system (“Education in Today’s Cuba”, 2010). England and Cuba have the best educational systems in the world (Mesa-Lago, 1972, p. 12).Thought, they have different approaches to the funding of education, they created productive systems of funding that is beneficial for each state (Holman, 2006, p. 17). Cuban government supports with funds all levels of education, while England has a more complicated system (Holman, 2006, p. 20). Student Finance England provides loans and grants for those who want to obtain higher education. Thus, state funding plays a great role in development of good educational system and supporting a high level of literacy in the country (Greenaway, and Haynes, 2003, p. 160).
As it has already been mentioned, the Cuban educational system is very well organized. Thus, adaptation of some rules and principles of Cuban system can be very valuable for improvement of the English one. Especially, concerning education of future teachers. It is a very valuable experience and it would really enhance the educational process. The relations between teachers and student would be less formal and more supportive (as in my case with the teacher of literature). I believe that it can really help in avoiding conflict situations and improve both teachers’ and students’ motivation, thus influence positively on the student’s performance.
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