Nonformal education is an integral part of Cuban society at the national, provincial, and municipal levels and is strongly linked to the education system. Contributing sectors include Public Health, Culture, and Sports, as well as organizations such as the Federation of Cuban Women, neighborhood watch Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, People's Councils, Pioneer Youth groups (similar to Boy and Girl Scouts), and the National Commission for Prevention and Social Care (Ministry of Education 1996).
Another nonformal sphere is adult education, which provides learning opportunities for workers, farmers, housewives, and undereducated adults at three levels: Educacion Obrera y Campesina or EOC (a four-semester basic instruction course sequence); Secundaria Obrera y Campesina or SOC (a four-semester mid-level course); and Facultad Obrera y Campesina or FOC (a six-semester higher level instruction) (Ministry of Education 1999). The matriculation rate of these programs has remained high, and course materials are frequently refined. From 1962 to 1974 about 650,000 adults graduated from these adult education programs, with a record number of 95,000 matriculating in 1974 (Paulston 1976). Participation remains high (Ministry of Education 1999).
The Cuban government has been a leader in the use of media for nonformal education. Starting in the 1960s, radio has served an important function in making education available to all citizens. As of 1996, eleven of the fourteen provinces offered local radio instruction at important work centers. Increased use of television has also offered opportunities for distance learning. For example, in 2000, "University for All" was introduced on state television, offering telecourses in English, Spanish, and other topics. Distance learning is offered through institutions of higher education, with periodic meetings held between students and professors; approximately 25,000 participants were involved as of 1996. The use of computers and Internet technology is limited, although Cuba is working to increase this resource for its populace.
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