Open Forum Cuba

9 December 2016 - A Open Forum on Other in Guadalajara, Mexico

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Full Session Transcript

>> Good afternoon, everyone.  My colleague, Mr. Fernando Ortega Cabrera.

Today we want to present how teachers and students using the Internet in our country to work in a collaborative way.  So now we want to share with you a video and then we are going to present some projects that we are going ‑‑ we are working on recently and like I said before, we came from Cuba.  So after this presentation and the video, we are going to speak in Spanish.

Thank you for being here with us.  Please.

>> Given society is gradually computerized despite economic difficulties, it's not unassociated to that.  So this represents the help of individuals in science and technology.

Two educational channels were creates and developed as a support net for the Cuban educational system at all teaching levels.

This context, the computer education program of the Ministry of Education of republic of Cuba emerges and we study the subject of informatics is created, conceived in three modalities as an object of study as a working tool and as a teaching aide.

To implement this new discipline, it was necessary to train the required staff and equip schools with the needed hardware.  Computerized classrooms were created to allow students into those spaces within the school itself.

Meanwhile, as part of the program of computerization of the Cuban society, and the provision of inclusive access to information technologies, to the general population, several computerized facilities have been established throughout the country, in every community.  These centers are known as hub of informatics.  The use of computers as a teaching aid motivated the use of computers in all pedagogical universities.

That multidisciplinary teams including writers, graphic designers audio visual specialists ensure the production of learning resources.  Especially the preschool sector, the general introduction of communication and information technologies was accompanied by a thorough research process, which results allowed us to identify and validate a formula for the use of these technologies, in compliance with the national concept of the educational process.

These research work was carried out in a ten‑year period, by a multidisciplinary group of experts with the objective of testing the effectiveness of the use of information technologies within computers and the like by groups of children, age 4 to 6 years.  And see if it promotes cognitive development.

The probe was focused on created on creating ergonomic concept that guaranteed the appropriate use of educational informatics in that age group.  As part of this policy, particular attention is paid to a special education, that guarantees the inclusion of people with special educational needs in any academic or social context.  With his aim, several media and computer resources were introduced in the school, including voice, synthesizers, braille printers and scanners and the development of an interactive sign language dictionary for deaf students.

Other devices include the master box, the computer device, as well as touch screens and smart keyboards to help the student's potential.

The poor access to Internet required the creation of an internal computer network, resulting in the very successful portal Cuba Nauta, targeting each of the three potential users, students, teachers, and the family.  This site is also integrated into the Latin American network of educational portals.

Software collections such as let's play for kindergarten children, or elementary school, for secondary education, future for high school students, and premedical for foreign students who start medical school in Cuba are a sample of Cuba's parade into new educational technologies.

They join work with conference in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Oceania and results in the campaign yes I can, and yes, I can go on, with the support of these TV channels.  The variety of computer and audiovisual resources boasted by our educational portal attracts the attention of many countries interested in developing projects with Cuba in the field of technology for intense learning.  Such is the case of Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Nicaragua, among others.

Cuban education is betting on the production and the use of computer and audio visual resources developed by teachers.

Good afternoon, what we wanted to tell about you in this video was outlook of the educational context, the technological context that we have in today's schools in Cuba.  Today Cuba, a small Cuban island that was under blockade for over 50 years, a country that devotes more than 13% of its GDP to education with 1600 educational centers that ‑‑ where we see education that's inclusive, where all children have the same opportunities, the same benefits throughout the entire country.

Today, the country has a wealth of computer technologies that are available and use in three basic areas, training.  Teachers, and ICTs within all parameters and all UNESCO.  Standards, training of students, and ITC training program in which we are ‑‑ we are developing new textbooks and new equipment, and training of or production of contents for parents so that they can also support their students in students' desire to learn throughout their education from K through higher learning.

In Cuba, we have one very important strong point, and that is production of content.  Contents in Cuba are produced by the teachers for the teachers.  We have a company that's devoted specifically to this end, with teachers who have over 20 years of experience.  They produce this wealth of information where they use over 85 curricular software to enable development of skills in teacher training, labs in each of our teacher training schools because we may be under a blockade.  Perhaps we haven't had access that we would have dreamt to have.  We have had to work within the limits of our economic development, but even at that, we have been able to ensure inclusion for all, where everyone in the country has access to the tools that we have.  We have 236,000 users that have access to the education ministry, with full access to education in our Cuban schools.

And with that is, however, not enough.  We have 2 million students, almost 2 million students and 126,000 teachers with the ‑‑ these figures, we're still ‑‑ we still haven't enabled everyone to reach to have access to the systems that we have in the country.  We are, however, working on this, and it is the desire of the government, political party to have a standardization of the educational system with access for all and we believe with greater economic funding we will be able to give access to all centers so that all schools and our educational centers have access to the network.

The Cuban network with the portals, the Cuba Jaduca, where we have all the contents of the study plan for Cuba, and throughout ‑‑ through that portal, we have three basic spaces, one we focus on teachers, because the teachers need the experience and they develop where we can develop the contempts provided by experienced teachers and then we focus on students, with the exercise, with the different levels of help, with videos that enable us to reinforce the contents that students receive in their classrooms and three spaces for families.

So families can accompany their children and devote themselves to teaching them at the same time.  As I was saying, we perhaps ‑‑ since we don't have enough schools, Cubans have had to be creative and the use ever these portals have enabled us, such as Cuban, Juduca, enables us to allow greater connection to ‑‑ for all students in the country, and giving access to students of the same contents of students who are in the schools or would do have access to the online education.

We also have a concept of work online.  Our work online is used for teachers, for students, developing the ability for research, of information, emails, online encyclopedias, Wikipedias.  We have a project within the country for Wikipedia, under the wiki concept.  We have developed this to build knowledge and enable students to study through the wiki system.  We also do our best so that all students in the school have information to the same information, the study plans used in the country, multi‑knowledge search engines, and in Juduca where we have a collection of different tools that are available to preschool and kindergarten students.  The fact that not all centers are connected to the system doesn't mean that we haven't dreamt of being able to grow so that the centers can all eventually be connected.  What we have done so far is work very hard on connecting everyone through email.  We have got two projects that we're in love with, one of them is called the juntando aulas.  Children have access to social media, Twitter, Facebook, and thus are able to be in contact with other sister schools in other countries.  For instance, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia, the municipality of Florencia, and in capital, where we have a sister school as well.  We have been working on that project for a little over five years.  We see what we have to do so these students can work in collaboration, in research, online, so that they can complete projects, school projects and what students in one rural municipalities such as Raul in central Cuba can have been contact with the mountainous school areas that can be in contact with other students in Colombia.

Colombian students that have been able to visit and get to know face‑to‑face some of our students.  We have to look at the quality.  The quality of the research projects that are undertaken by early school students.  It's posh to see how they grow in this system and how they grow in their ability to do research but also in how they grow as individuals and so that they can be the people of tomorrow with all of the contributions and skills available in today's society.

Another project is the hula hula project and this is a project of an educational nature.  It's for all schools in Cuba, of the 1600 schools that are connected in the student network, where they have this same benefits that any social network could provide to them.

They share information, videos.  They exchange experiences.  They chat.  All of this work is done within a social network.  And this network has been a great stimulus for the students because it's not just educational stimulus, educational achievements working with their teachers, and doing their homework but they also get to know other students in other provinces.  And through this, they are able to do online searches for information, and to have an environment that is a little bit closed ‑‑ that is more closed but it's an educational system that enables them to truly focus on their educational projects.

The policy of the country is to not have educational constraints but to have it open and it's also important for the students to be in a closed environment so they can focus properly on their work.  So these are the two projects that have been very successful in the country, and this is what we are doing to develop Internet use amongst our students and enabling students ‑‑ the teachers at the same time to prepare their lessons because internet access is free of charge for everyone in the country, this ‑‑ the Cuban state finances all of these expenses.  The 65,000 computers distributed throughout the country with monitors that are distributed throughout the country as well, free of charge, because we have an educational channel, 24 hour programming, that is all education based, where we have ‑‑ we provide reinforcement of subjects, where all subjects are covered on the channel, where we've got educational houses that produce the educational contents on the basis of the needs of Cuban schools today.  And all of this is complimented by a ‑‑ a harmonious environment where we have got computer labs, with common spaces, where teachers can enjoy the collaborative research for information and if any of the municipalities or cities are not connected, they can always have access to these educational channels on the television so that they can prepare their lessons.  And I repeat, this is all free of charge.

No Cuban teacher is charged, even one red cent to have access to this information, so that they can premier their study plans.  And students as their correct study habits and learning are prepared, then they are all ‑‑ they also have access to the Internet insofar as they approach higher ‑‑ their higher education, because we don't necessarily have the ITC availability for all students.  But as they get older,  they do have access.  I repeat, the blockade, the embargo meant that we with respect able to have this for everyone, but we are now working on providing this at a greater quality level for the students so that they can learn as well as any other student the world over in government schools.

If you have any questions, I will be very happy to take them.

(Applause).

>> Please.  First you, and then you.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good afternoon, everyone.  I come from the university of Guadalajara.  First, I want to congratulate you on your program, your inclusion program, when it comes to ITCs.  Talking about ITC, I have some questions about 9 labor market, the labor market is focusing on ICTs.  And we are trying to help students so they can get a job in outsourcing companies.  So the question is the following:  Do you have the same type of training, labor training?  Do you have companies of this size on the island?

>> Allow me to say something, general education in Cuba, up to the university level includes ‑‑ technological ICT program for communication purposes.  So we have the specialization of students in the area of information and communication technologies.  We also concentrate on the training of new teachers.  We have some hours devoted to the training of ICT language.  We have a major, a BA of five years, in order to train ICT teachers.

We start right from the beginning.  We start developing the skills and the skills when it comes to the use of devices, including computers and portable phones.  The society of the ‑‑ the I can has to be part of the society development and this is especially true in the training of resources, especially for those who will be training future teachers.

We also have the director of Sinisova.  They create resources.  For training, the general population.

It works on open training sessions for different jobs, for different areas.  And also distance education, we also have a program with different syllabuses, for different degrees and the universities also use these distance education platform.  I have to say that in Cuba, the basic education goes up to the 12th grade.  And then we have at the university degrees and I don't know if ‑‑ with this I have answered your questions.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Now we have Cuca.  I also come representing Cuba in this forum.  I represent companies sponsored by the telecommunications minister.  Following up on this question, I think it is important to know that companies have an ICT commitment.  The software is seen as a service.  Of course, we are going to have opportunities as the one that you were mentioning and this includes the training of students and technicians and they are part of the human resource of our companies.  So we have an open business model that allows us to have programs ‑‑ programs for those coming from different regions of the island and different regions of Latin America.

Latin America, we have to take advantage of our common language.  They come from other places of origin.  They learn from our specialists, not only in terms of the creation of those software tools.  They also receive technological support.  They learn about the identification of customer needs.  These imply an outsourcing scheme and this is an opportunity for companies.  Now the software is sold as a service, not ‑‑ not as a product.  Obviously in Cuba, we look at software as a service and as a product.  And because of this, we have these training capabilities, these updating capabilities because of the reasons I was mentioning, three is important for us as Cubans.  So we have the development of a training ‑‑ oh, the development of skills of trainings.

I also come from Cuba, from the institute of youth.  You were talking about the labor market.  89 company participations in the training of students in schools.  The students spend sometime in Cuban companies.  They have internships in Cuban companies as in any case when they finish university, they have a position in a company.  When you finish your IT degree, you will have a position in a company.  You don't have a problem in that sense.

And this is something that goes hand in hand with training.  You are trained in schools and you are also trained in companies.

I have to mention one strength of the educational system.  We have the concept of additional training.  You don't have to wait until you finish university to be trained in companies if you are part of a degree, your degree includes being trained in companies.  You have the opportunity to interact with professionals in that field.  The student will learn about their future, and this is the idea of this corporate internship.

>> APC in San Francisco, the United States.  And I want to congratulate the brothers and sisters from Cuba for helping to develop Internet education, despite the obstacle of the blockade, which the United States has imposed on Cuba.  I think the world has some great opportunities.  Internet has a ‑‑ is a vehicle to help educate and link up the world together, but there are major obstacles.  A big part of this conference, IGF is the lack of accessibility around the world, in Africa, in poor countries.  And one of the problems with that lack of access is the fact that the capital corporations, the media monopolies like Facebook and Google only want to invest if they make a profit.

So the development of access is not a question of need for people, but can a company make profit?  And I think that your example of providing access to everyone as a basic right is something that we have to exemplify around the world.  Even in the United States, people don't have access, in rural communities to Wi‑Fi because big media monopolies don't want to provide it.  They can't make money from it.

The issue of municipal Wi‑Fi is very important.

The other aspect that I want to bring up is how the Internet is now being used to privatize education.  In the United States, Google, Facebook, big companies are taking over the schools.  They are privatizing schools through charters, and one of the things they are doing is they are pushing the senior teachers out, bringing in younger teachers and putting students in front of computers for two or three hours a day.  Young students.  And they are making profit from education.

In is a threat to the health of students and that also means the senior teachers and it takes time to be teachers are being driven out and scapegoated.  You have to ask yourself ‑‑ and I don't think that's a problem in Cuba ‑‑ why are the teachers in.  United States blamed for the education system.  Why are we being blamed for the crisis?  It's a lack of funding and it's the fact that so much money in the United States goes to the military.  You save 50% of your wealth or your resources go to education, social services, 50% of the United States and more goes to the military.

So I would say our job in the United States is to say that the money that is going to the military should go to education and should go to the people of United States.  That's what we have to fight for in the United States.  I want to thank up and congratulate you again for your work in Cuba.

(Applause).

(Awaiting English translation).

>> Internet governance is very important for young people.  How are you integrating these concepts in the educational process.  How are you fostering the participation of young people?  And what are the projects that you have in terms of governance as part of the Cuban educational program?

>> The education system here in Cuba, here represented by us, includes very young children.  We start with very young children.  We teach children and young people about governance.  It is not like the university education in those instances, we have classes about that, where we actually talk about Internet Governance.  In the case of students in Cuba, well, we are trying to improve the education system and this is something that we do on a regular basis, as part of the syllabus, and the use of the Internet.  So with these new programs, students will receive information about general culture on this type of contents.  We are training teachers.  We are training them on the use of Internet.  We have trained them about training.  I don't know how to explain this.  This is because of the technological limitations that our country had.  We didn't have satellites a few decades ago.  So access to Internet was a very complex in Cuba.  It was limited.

Now thanks to Alba, we have fiber optics.  We have broadband.  And we have been connecting at different centers.  So we are training the teachers of those centers.  Before giving them the service, because we are not going to tell them, here, you have Internet.  Learn about it yourself.  No, we have to create the basic ICT skills.  We are working very hard.  We are working in the development of these programs.  So students actually receive these Internet culture right from the beginning.

And in the case of universities, well, they will have to work on these more specifically with a more scientific perspective, but we have to take the first steps and this is what we are actually doing.

We have a group of teachers.  We have a coupe of researchers led by the institute of teacher training and they are in charge of this process throughout the country.  So this is me.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I come from Mexico.  I'm representing the global institution of engineers, the IEEE.  I came to the end of the presentation.  So I want to know what agencies generate and develop and support the Internet infrastructure, especially the nature that you have.  You talk about some technical problems that this generates.

>> I'm here representing the Ministry of Education.  I don't know about telecommunications.  I will tell about you the problems that Cubans face.

In Cuba, Internet became satellite based very recently.  We didn't have access to broadband, both for uploading and downloading.  We have didn't have the resources and we had to provide a service to doctors, to universities, and it was a very limited band.

But in Cuba, we have a wealth, human resources.  You can block us, but what we have, we share.  And we are self‑trained in order to take the quantum leap.  In Cuba, we have degrees.  IT degrees.  We have a number of several society organizations bringing together IT professionals both from the stay and from known government organizations.  And they are learning about programming.  They are learning about system analysis.  They are learning about deployment.  We have an Army of people who haven't been trained in the use of the ICTs.

Yes, we have a blockage.  Our telecommunication companies have got many problems when it comes to acquiring equipment and this is because of different patents but it doesn't mean that we are not looking for other ways out.  This is what I can actually tell you from my own perspective.  This is Fernando's perspective.

Juanita, do you want to talk about this?

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: We have Juan Fernandez, he is ‑‑ he comes up from the ministry of telecommunications, yes.  Allow me.  This is about education.  The forum is about education.  The panelists are specialists in the area of education resources, using ICTs.

Now, this question goes beyond the scope of this forum, the infrastructure of Internet in Cuba.  As my colleague has already pointed out, Internet connects you to the world.  And this is something that we have to understand.  Cuba was not a regular country like the others.  We have to take into consideration that we have an economic blockage against Cuba.

This is something very concrete.  It has been on for many years, and this has resulted in losses amounting to $130 billion, resources that could have been used for other purposes, in the case of technologies, well, there are many technologies that companies cannot sell to the Cuban market and because of these, our conditions have been very difficult.  This is something that you have to bear in mind.

However, this is a reality.  We have fallen behind in the implementation of these technologies.  That's true.  And we are working in order to change these situations.  We are connecting the worldwide web using fiber optics with a very high prices because, remember, the IP market is a monopoly.

ISPs increase where the IP market is very restricted.  I don't know in you were at the opening ceremony.  The Afghan representative talked about the cost of the mega bit in their country, in the case of Cuba, the cost is also very high because of those limitations.

As I was telling you, it is a reality, but we are working on that.  We are going to increase the access.  It is not a secret that our levels of access to internet are very low in comparison to the region, but in the index of human development, we are in position number two, in terms of education, we are number one.  In the case of inclusion of women in society, we are number one.

These technologies are ‑‑ well, we have technologies, limited technologies but we have done enough with those technologies but, of course, it doesn't mean that we are not going to continue developing these technologies.  We are going to continue supporting these efforts and these achievements.  We want to take them to the next level.  So this is what we can actually say.  People talk about rankings and this is the information that we can give you about the rankings and how Cuba is positioned in this.

And this is something that we have achieved ourselves.

(Applause)

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I am Tanya, with the Cuban delegation.  I would like to ‑‑ to talk about the actions of the Cuban government when it comes to training students.  I have to say that 30 years ago, Fidel Castro promoted an initiative to create IT centers in order to digitize the society.  We were talking about 1987 and this was rather new for the time.  Each of the municipalities created a center whose aim was to digitize the society.  We have many of these centers from very mountainous areas to urban areas.  There, students and others, especially elders have access to all the programs that our agency has created.

And thanks to these programs, we can train on ICT technologies.

Social networks, and many other topics, and this is also ‑‑ this is a distance education.  That is to say, in an informal way, children have another way of being trained when it comes to ICTs.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Victor from ISOC, Dominican Republic.  It is true that Cuba has one of the highest levels of education in the world, and they are working on the connectivity of the island but when it comes up to ICTs, we have the problem of privacy.  From your perspective, what are the tools.  How do you teach children about privacy?

You have schools and these are closed networks and you collect information about the activities of students and teachers.  Do you ‑‑ do you teach children about the privacy of ICTs?

>> As I was mentioning, before yes, of course.  And this is one of the first things we teach them.  We teach them about security.  Internet security as we call it on the island.  I am talking about changing your password frequently and it is about avoiding Spam emails.  It is a little bit different.  We are not as developed as other regions and this is because of the limitations we have already mentioned.  But I am going to say, what I have already said, we are working on new projects.  We are working on new syllabuses, we are working on new books.

Are the use of ICTs cannot be seen only from the perspective of traditional computer.  It is not about a PC a mouse.  We have to think about the flexibility, something that we have everywhere, and now you can have access to Internet from any device.  If we have to think about the cloud technology, we have to think about ‑‑ about training our students, about access to information and their risks.  We have a strength the education is provided by the ministry of education.  We haven't got transnational companies sucking on the information ‑‑ on the personal information of our students.

That information is part of the network of the Ministry of Education.  We haven't got any risks right now.  I don't know, maybe some ‑‑ we have some users on Facebook or Google, these international sites.  Maybe they are putting their information at risk, but when it comes to personal information of teachers and students, that information remains in the network of the Ministry of Education.  We have gotten statistical information about that.  We need to know about the activities of the students.  We need to know about the activities of the users.  We have to optimize the user by means of the statistical information.  That's the information we have got.  Apart from that, we have black lists in order to close down some sites that might be dangerous for the education our students, pornography, harassment.

We are continuously surveilling the network, trying to identify these type of attacks and closing down sites that might be a danger for students, but this doesn't mean that we are limiting the information, and this happens all around the world, all countries have a black list.  And you have to take into consideration that our services are educational services and so we have to work with children right from kindergarten, and some information is not to go to those environments.

We try to avoid children from being the victims of this type of situations.  We are talking about very small children and we are not going to close the net.  We are used to looking after our users.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Helen, and I'm a librarian and I work with IFLA as well.  I had the opportunity to go to Cuba a few weeks ago to the Info Congress and I would like to tell you about a reality that I experienced there that I was surprised about and admire.  You have done a great deal with a great deal left.  You have great creativity and internal innovation to be able to reach the entire population.  I was able to visit libraries and they were full of people!  I think this is part of your educational system, your infrastructure.  I saw young people, children, senior citizens, adults of all ages, I saw computers and everyone using computers.  I don't know if it was an Internet or an extranet or the Internet.

So I'm excited to see what the needs of the population are.  Another very important point, literacy.  I didn't find anyone who was ill lit irate on that visit.  I found people who were truly cultured with a great deal of knowledge and since.  We like to see that in countries that are so‑called very democratic.  We don't see that level of culture.  There's a great deal of poverty and ignorance and I will literacy through many parts of the world.  What we are trying to do is achieve the SDGs, or the sustainable development goals of 2030.  So I believe you have done a great deal with very little.  It's terrible that you have had to deal with the embargo, but I do believe that you have done a great deal and you will be able to achieve your goals.  So congratulations.

>> Thank you, Dr. Helen who I met just this morning.  Indeed because she heard my voice, she understood ‑‑ she saw my accent and said I was Cuban approached me.  The issue of privacy is not something that came with the Internet, the constitution of Cuba that.  It includes all the elements that have to do with priority.  Implementation of any technology that happens in the country is automatically regulated by those principles.

If you are interested in having more information with respect to current resolutions of the ministry of communications that ‑‑ that regulates management of this topic, well being you can come to us and tell you about it.

We just published a book called public information, current tendency, information of women and 2020 citizens that includes work by people from Cuba, Venezuela, Chile and Mexico.  I can send you that book.  We are in the process of undertaking constitutional amendments and I believe that with those amendments, our constitution will be updated, because ‑‑ not because the constitution wasn't able to do that but rather because we are very interested in ensure that the constitution is able to be up to date from its preamble, in its efforts to defend human decency and dignity throughout the country.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good afternoon.  My name is Renata and I'm from Brazil.  I would like to hear a little bit more about the Hula Hula project.  Can you tell me how it was developed, what type of contents were included in the project.  Are there any types of controls that are on contents that not appropriate, where they blocked the children and the young people who published their own content?

I would like to know how that works?  Can you tell me more about it.

>> That's a project that rose in a province of the country, through the education ministry or the methodologists and the teachers of Cienfuegos province in central Cuba who proposed this project to have this educational network, and the creation of the network.  Since it's educational in nature and it came about in the ministry of education, then it includes the premises of secular education, the commitment of all for all.  As a result, the students have the right to publish everything that is included in the educational context.  Like any network, there's a group of specialists that moderate and deal with the network and if there's any content that is inappropriate for the standards for publication on the network, they are deleted.  They just notify the people who included that content in the projects to let them know that it will be deleted.

But the socialization is the purpose.  First of all, it's students that share their content and that that information secondly can be shared from the school level and that it can be shared with the different educational centers throughout the call, they enter our country.

Sharing as well, applications and tools provided through the network, through social media, to develop the skills of our students, so as to encourage them to go to school, to continue to study, and so that the teachers can also have spaces to be able to share there are experiences as teachers.

The students know that the most famous teacher in the history of the school is the teacher at the school next door and not at their schools.  So those experiences are shared in that network, that social network, and the teachers are asked questions by students in neighboring schools.  So there's a great sharing of ‑‑ of teacher experiences and student experiences.  It's a new project.  It's only been around for the past year.  We love it but we are working on it intensely.

We are working on it in an ongoing fashion.  It's been well accepted pong our students and our teachers and we have seen that there's a huge demand from the students to be able to have access to this network because we want this to be able to share their information and to hear from other students what is going on.

We have only got five minutes left.  So I will take one or two more questions only.

We as coordinators invite children to tell us what topics they are interested in hearing about on these networks and they are communicating with children of other schools and other countries.

So they start working on resources for communication, educational resources, so as to be able to work, for instance, on water topics, giving them the ability to share information and learnings, experiences, and clearly these students, what they first do is to talk about those things, how they live, what their school is like.  When you were talking about the projects that we were talk with Costa Rica and other countries, the classrooms that came about as a result of this creating greater interactivity.  The topic of Colombia, for instance, how the students are participating and sharing information with recognition of their collaboration, so as to be able to work on the environment, for instance, as one of the projects.

So topics have been generated that have led to awards and recognitions internationally.  Teachers that are give and wards well beyond the idea of just teacher of the year, for instance, but teachers that have been very important in terms of their ability to communicate these projects to other teachers and other students in other learning centers in the country and elsewhere.

It's not necessarily face to face education, but global participation, hopefully we'll be able to see the sister classrooms, projects and the Hula Hula project become even more global because it's the direct presence of these schools and these students on the networks because sometimes people think that in Cuba we don't let people be in contact with other people outside of the country, but that's not true.

What we want is for people and students and teachers to be in contact with people all over the world because they have the need to communicate with other people, under the structure of educational protection, of course and with the support of Cuban government.

Yes, sir?  One final question.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you very much.  My name is Ricardo and I'm the ambassador for special education and I'm very interested in finding out how you develop this educational system because we undoubtedly agree on the fact that cybersecurity and its culture needs to begin in the first steps of training, of what it means to have gained access to the Internet, interacting with users from other countries.  As you said with respect to the sister schools project.

So I believe that this is very important, and we congratulate you for this work.  But the most important agenda has to do with security and in that sense, I wanted to ask you, within the educational environment, over the past few years, how do you conceive of cybersecurity as it's been seen in the different fora here?  It's a matter of having children connect with other countries, or colleagues in other countries, but the topic, as has just been mentioned, it can be a conversation on the topic of water, for instance, but my question is:  Is there a model or a curriculum within your program that specifically refers to security issues, for instance, how do you deal with antivirus programs or what to do so that there are attacks through dialogues with other people, these types of issues that are strictly security related?

>> Thank you for your question.  We would like to frame it within what we have been discussing today.  Yes, within the computer sciences program, we frame that within the sciences and technology area.  And from early years, K through 12, we teach students about security and we have teachers that are devoted full time to teaching those subjects.  In addition, we are also updating this content and this information dealing with collaborative work online and social networks because eight or ten years ago, for instance, we didn't see the same level of development that we have today.

So there are seminars, for instance, that are methodology ‑‑ methodologically included in the content and those contents are enriched so that the students are trained and the teachers that teach the subject matter are trained in that respect as well and these didactic units are also updated in terms of the importance of using antivirus programs, as well as programs, as well as individual security online.

Yes, for the workers and teachers, prior to having direct contact with the Internet, and with the technology per se, they need to take a ‑‑ ICT security course so as to be up to date on antivirus, personal security, password security so that they are able to master that information.

They need to take a short course on cybersecurity, if you will, or ICT security, before they are able to teach that information.

And now professor from the Cuban delegation will address a few worlds to us because we only have two more minutes.

>> Yes, my name is Mr. Caputa, I'm from the Interinstitutional communications department of the Ministry of Education.  But we should ‑‑ you should know that we have our own antivirus system that operates throughout the country, and it is continuously updated on the basis of international trends, and in addition to international focus, we also have our own ‑‑ our own input including our code of ethics that has to do with ‑‑ with the ‑‑ how things are done in the country, and we teach the students on that basis.

So as to increase connectivity and because of the financial blockade, the embargo, our economic activity was terribly curbed in this sense.  All of the measures that have to do with cybersecurity were developed and we are developing our own means to deal with in the country as a result.

>> Yes, you have the floor, sir.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good afternoon, thank you.  I represent the company Bestel, which is one of the Internet service providers here in Mexico.  But my question doesn't have to do with services but rather, I would like to know about the educational model in Cuba given that the level of I literacy in the country is zero and as was mentioned, here today, the level of school attendance is very high.  School dropout rates is relatively ‑‑ or is nil, and this is something that does not happen in other countries, but I think that that far from the limitations that you may have in terms of access to information or to the Internet has to do with the model, the educational model that Cuba provides to its students.  So ‑‑ do you have access to Internet too as a means of access to information for their development, for instance?

Well, the educational model is a model that that is enriched by Cuban pedagogic system.  We have you're Cuban teacher training system that has been in existence since our struggle for independence, since the revolution.  So today, I would say that the greatest work of all is that the students be at the core of the educational process.  That they be at the core of the teaching and the learning process and that all teachers and resources be devoted to enabling students to become a part of Cuban society and economy.

In Cuba, all citizens of the country have the duty and the right to be educated.  As a result, they all have the right to learn to gain degrees, to take courses at higher education institutions.  As a result, we have no illiterate citizens as a result of the revolutionary system, we had a literacy campaign where children are who knew how to read and right would go out to the countryside, with a lamp to each others how to read and right.  And that was the program, the campaign that was used throughout the school to fight the scourge of Illiteracy that existed way back when.  We didn't stop at that.  We created method of, yes, I can.  And yes, I can continuing.  These programs enabled people to identify more than just letters but rather identify words and to not just be able to count electric one to two, but to be able to do their sums and to add and subtract and multiply and divide.  It enabled more than 7 million individuals to learn, to read and write through the system.

In the Cuban system which is an internationalist system.  In a country that has not sought anything in exchange other than eradicate the courage of illiteracy so that people can have a decent living because they know how to read and write.

>> What we want to achieve with our education system.  We fought for Cuba by means of the revolution and we came to realize that education was the actual element to develop the freedom of our people.  We can have different theories telling us that we are free, but if you don't know how to use your freedom, then you are not free.  So as Fernando was saying, ever since 1961, we wanted to have an educated people, people who knew about their freedom.

I think that's the actual strength of the Cuban people, the education system that is free of charge.  A universal system, and equal system for everyone, from the moment you are born, till you die.  Not many people can actually say that they study throughout the live for the benefit of society.  The purpose is to study in order to foster the development of the community.  This is a free of charge of education.  The government is paid by the government, our GDP is mainly used for education ‑‑ for health, because we need to have health and to education.

The government is making sure that all the participants, all the stakeholders work so children can go to the school.  In order to achieve the limit of capabilities.

In the toughest times of the revolution, Cuba doesn't close schools.  They didn't stop at the training of the teachers.  We have one teacher for every 25 students.  We have an education system that actually guarantees the resources free of charge, pencils, uniforms, food for children, the only concern of the family and the children is to be educated, to actually use this benefit.

It is a social organization where we have the participation of all the stakeholders, including the state.  All have the responsibility to foster the educational system.  So companies have to accept the internship of students.  Because the society as a whole has to contribute towards the education of everyone.  And this is by constitution.  And this is for the benefit of everyone, as the ‑‑ as a chapter number one of our constitution reads.  The number one priority of our country is in order to achieve actual freedom, is education.

[ Applause ]

>> Well, I want to thank everyone for your participation in this forum.  We haven't got more time.  We have to close this session, and now we can actually exchange some ideas individually.  Thank you very much. 

(End of session 1:45 p.m.)