NEU Senior Vice-President and delegation leader Amanda Martin explained that ‘The title of this report is taken from a banner we saw in one of the schools, which said: ‘Working together, we educate ourselves’. That is exactly what we saw in Cuba, a culture of collectivism and working together combined with a fierce sense of independence and responsibility.”
The report highlights the findings of the delegation both in terms of education and trade unionism. In education, it was noted that teacher-pupil ratios were high and staff were well-qualified. Classrooms were comparatively well resourced, given Cuba’s GDP, but the impact of the US blockade was felt everywhere and many of the resources the group saw in classrooms had been made by the teachers themselves.
In terms of trade unionism, the delegation found that the recognition and rights which Cuban trade unions have are far superior to those unions enjoy in Britain. Cuban teachers and union leaders even expressed surprise at the idea that educational reforms could be implemented in Britain without first seeking agreement from the education union.
Following the visit, Amanda noted that “it is fantastic to see that the NEU delegation…have come back inspired to develop the union’s international work at a grassroots level, and also been inspired to become more involved in trade union activity.”