This Cuban program, one of the many humanistic initiatives of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, has helped reduce the illiteracy indicators in 32 countries
Illiteracy is one of the main signs of exclusion and discrimination worldwide. As an obstacle to the quality of life, it also increases poverty and hinders the development of people in order to guarantee their dignity, since it does not allow the improvement of economic opportunities or the promotion of participation in public life.
In the fight against this worldwide scourge, Cuba has made a relevant contribution with the creation of the “Yes, I can” program, with an obviously internationalist character, designed to teach reading and writing, especially in Latin America, ready to be adapted to different social realities and languages.
This method of literacy was inspired by our National Literacy Campaign, which was carried out in the middle of the 20th century, with an eminently present-day character, and whose theoretical bases and principles are still valid today.
Moreover, its roots lie in the study of theoretical sources of national and foreign authors, as a necessary reference for the use of media in literacy programs, as well as reports and documents of various bodies and organizations.
We cannot ignore the fact that the “Yes, I Can” (Yo sí Puedo) initiative is also the result of Cuba’s participation in the consultation of other countries’ literacy campaigns and the experience gained in the implementation of Haiti’s literacy through radio.
In 2003, at the request of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, the Cuban literacy program “Yes, I Can” was born in the Department of Literacy and Education for Adolescents and Adults of the Pedagogical Institute of Latin America and the Caribbean (IPLAC), under the direction of Doctor of Education Leonela Inés Relys Díaz.
This program, which aims to reduce illiteracy worldwide, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, since it was born in the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
About the implementation of this program during these two decades, Granma spoke with Nora Isaac Díaz, Ph.D. in Pedagogical Sciences, researcher at the Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences of Cuba (ICCP) and in charge of the research line that coordinates the “Yes, I can” program.
-What is the main purpose of the Yes, I can literacy program?
– It is committed to contribute effectively with human and material resources to the reduction of the existing illiteracy indicators in the countries most in need, through the application of a literacy program capable of involving a large number of people in a short period of time, without compromising the quality of the teaching-learning process.
“It consists of a general methodology for its implementation and development; a method to learn reading and writing; the teaching tools, a teaching-learning system for the training of the participants of the program; a teaching-learning evaluation model, as well as the social, curricular and financial impact achieved with the application of it”.
-In which countries has the program been implemented?
-More than ten million people have learned to read and write with the Cuban program, and there are already 32 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Oceania and Europe where this method has been applied.
“The results of the evaluation of the social, pedagogical and learning management impact have been very satisfactory, especially in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, countries that have managed to reduce illiteracy below 4%.
“Between 2003 and 2018, different types of Yo, sí puedo have been implemented in Spanish, for Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Guatemala, and in other languages such as English, French and Portuguese, and in languages such as Aymara, Guaraní, Creole, Tetum and Swahili, among others.”
-What educational and participatory methods do you use?
The scientific nature of this literacy program is evident in its pedagogical implementation strategy, in the opportunities for studying socio-cultural conditions in situ, in a methodological design that associates numbers with letters for learning to read and write, in its learning evaluation system, as well as in the opportunities it offers for continuing studies through formal or non-formal channels.
“A methodology based on the mastery of numbers by the beneficiaries is used because of the different empirical (practical) experiences; it favors the learning process because it goes from the known and more concrete to the unknown and more abstract.
“It is based on the application of the didactic principles of affordability and accessibility, which favor a gradual and ascending learning, in addition to a personalized, participatory, dialogical and conscience-enriching process.
“As for participation and inclusion, this program conceives that the dynamics of instruction-education be executed by the country’s own citizens, who voluntarily join, whether or not they are education professionals, for whom videos are recorded, aimed at favoring a training that provides in the diversity of facilitators-literacy facilitators unity in the process.
“It also promotes the majority inclusion of women, by allowing to execute the operation of the learning process in their own homes or in nearby places.”
-Considering the educational and social premises with which the program is carried out, what have been the main results of the program in the world?
From the very title of the Yes, I can program, the human being takes centerstage in the process, as well as his or her knowledge and experiences to contribute to raising self-esteem and transforming ways of acting.
“The method not only serves to eliminate the lack of knowledge of reading and writing, but to awaken these people more by actions than by words.
“In that sense, the achievements are not only based on literacy, but also on making people feel included, that they are part of an emancipating and transforming project such as learning.
“In technological matters, contemporary advances have become very useful means for the eradication of illiteracy, with a rational use of human and material resources.”
UPDATING THE YES, I CAN LITERACY PROGRAM
The Literacy and Post-literacy project managed by the ICCP deepens the study on the conceptualization, methods and procedures of Youth and Adult Education, and especially on the literacy and post-literacy programs that Cuba offers to the world, Dr. Nora Isaac Díaz highlighted.
She added that, taking into account the development and use of new technologies, the goals set by the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, specifically goal number four: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, and assuming that this program is already implemented for 20 years, it has been considered relevant to update and improve it for its linkage with Information Technology (IT).
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 773 million young people and adults have not acquired basic literacy skills, and more than 617 million children and adolescents do not reach the minimum levels of competence in reading and mathematics.
Today, the researcher said, the use of literacy to exchange knowledge is constantly evolving as technology progresses, from the Internet to the sending of text messages on cell phones, and the increasing availability of means of communication is leading to increased social and political participation.
Therefore, he pointed out, while literacy is access to reading, writing and arithmetic, it is also making it possible for the subject to be inserted into society, making him/her aware of his/her environment so that he/she can transform it.
He stressed that, in order to help maintain and raise the literacy rates achieved by the Cuban Yes, I can program, now, with IT use, it is aimed at people who for one reason or another dropped out of basic education.