A pioneer experience in education, held in three municipalities of the state of PiauÀ, northeast of Brazil, has helped rural and domestic workers learn how to read and write in just 35 days.
It’s the Cuban literacy method "Yo sí puedo" (Yes, I can), used as part of a cooperation agreement between the governments of the two countries, implemented last October.
The pilot project involves the municipalities of Buriti dos Lopes, Caxingó, and Murici dos Portelas, all with high levels of illiteracy. With the Cuban method, students learn basic reading and writing skills through the association of numbers, letters, and animals. Each letter is associated to a number. Students learn one letter per day.
The method also employs educational videos that show the different realities coexisting in Brazil. There are 17 VHS tapes, with a total of 65 video lessons, which add up to 32,5 hours. Each video lesson lasts 30 minutes.
According to the Cuban supervisor of the literacy program in Piauí, Carlos Martinez, teachers and monitors are trained on the method. Students are usually rural workers, fishermen, and domestic workers. Ages range from 15-70 years, but the majority is between 35 and 50 years old.
Martinez said that a test taken by 96 students of the three municipalities proved the efficiency of the project. "Of this total, 100% learned the numbers, to write their names, and to read. 88% learned to read with quality similar to that presented by first grade students."
In his opinion, the most important benefit of the project is that students learn about Brazilian cultural diversity, learn how to care for their families, to prevent diseases, and to care for the environment.
Cuban educational methods are considered an example by several countries. Basic education is a priority in Cuba, where 99.5% of children from zero to six years attend preschool.
According to the 2000 Census, of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), there are 16 million illiterate youngsters and adults in Brazil.