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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cuban Language Academy criticizes decision on Spanish test

Por MRod

The Cuban Language Academy (ACUL, for its Spanish acronym), the governing body of the norm and the use of the Cuban variant of Spanish, “expresses its disagreement with the decision" to keep the Spanish test out of the exams for admission to the Pre-University Institutes of Exact Sciences (IPVCE, for its Spanish acronym), as published on its official website.

The debate about the measure was generated days ago, when Radio Guamá, provincial radio station of Pinar del Río, the westernmost province of Cuba, published a note with the headline "Spanish eliminated from entrance exams to IPVCE", which questioned that among the tests to enter the IPVCE "Federico Engels", the mother tongue will not appear.

This text was replicated by other sites inside and outside of Cuba, it was shared on social networks and Granma newspaper interview Margarita McPherson, Cuban deputy minister of Education, and Adalberto Revilla, national director of Basic Secondary Education about the matter. It turned out that the exclusion of the exam was done a second time since it had initially occurred the previous year. In a first point it was recalled that "the Ministries of Education (MINED) and Higher Education decided to include the Spanish exam as a requirement for admission to the university for all students who chose careers (...) with the understanding that as part of the essential professional requirements, the proper command of the mother tongue is essential”.

The text continues: "In recent years, we have witnessed the abandonment on dictation skills, fundamental for professionals; the lack of effective strategies in relation to the mastery of the Spanish language, inversely to the strengthening of foreign languages, in particular English; and the lack of congruence between the theoretical positions before the language and the practical actions in which they manifest themselves ".

The Academy affirms that, beyond figures and results, aspiring university students "still face difficulties in the handling of their expressive instrument, not only orthographic but of quality of ideas, coherence and cohesion", which explain, "they would demand a greater and more creative exercise, a more systematic and consistent evaluation".

As McPherson told Granma, the reason for not examining Spanish is related to the MINED strategy to rescue the foundational objectives of the IPVCE, which emerged in Cuba in the 70s and 80s with the idea of being a career seed of scientific profile. Moreover, explained Revilla Vega, the decision was made based on opinions of teachers and student organizations, which is subject of greater concern. In face these arguments, the Academy warns, "it seems idle to insist that the essential source of knowledge, which we place in observation, study, science, a specific science, or practice ... necessarily goes through a language: you think in this language, it is observed in the language, it is worked in the language, science is done in the language. Hence, if we want to train full scientists we cannot neglect this aspect ".

Would the higher officials pay attention to the Academy’s reasons? Let’s all hope they do.