Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Beginning in 1842, education policy emerged as a paradox between the poles of legal mandates and a policy of benign neglect. While compulsory schooling, free instruction, and integration laws were passed, they languished, unenforced by colonial officials. Much of the formal education occurred outside the purview of public officials, overseen only by parents and religious leaders. After 1898 the United States imposed its own model of system structure, methodology, and governance starting with Military Orders No. 297 and Order No. 368 in 1900. When this system was later transferred to Cuban bureaucrats, funding and enforcement backslid and became increasingly corrupt through 1958.
Education in post-Revolutionary Cuba is guaranteed and obligatory as noted in Article 39B of the Constitution. Laws number 76 and number 367, combined with decree number 2099, decentralized schools, and number 680 revised the structure of education itself. The Declaration of Havana in September 1960 declared that every child had the right to a free education; the Law of General Nationalization and Free instruction, passed in June 1961, suspended private education and made the state officially responsible for all education (Epstein 1988).
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