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Sunday, September 27, 2020
Friday, January 17, 2020

Leonela Relys Díaz: a world-size teacher from Camaguey

This January 17 marks five years after the death of the local teacher who created the literacy method Yo sí puedo

"The teacher has to go to those who can't go to the teacher." Thus, as Marti´slogan, was the life of Camaguey-born educator Leonela Relys Díaz. Since the first days of the Revolution, she enroled in the Literacy Campaign, just 13 years old, and also at the beginning of this century, when she created the Yo sí puedo program, to bring the light of education to the darkest corners of the world, to the poor, with the premise that "knowledge is the only way to freedom."

Thanks to the unforgettable literacy program, not a few have taken the first step towards knowledge, combining numbers and letters. In Haiti alone, more than 100,000 illiterates came out of ignorance with the Cuban method, and just after 20 years with the program, more than ten million illiterates in more than 30 countries were out of total ignorance.

What started with a contextualized version of Creole already has 20 versions in languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, hastatetum and Swahili, not forgetting Aymara, Guarani and Quechua.

"If you can't read," said the Cuban teacher, "you don't know how to vote, you can't claim anything." I take the appointment of an interview that came to light in February 2015, as it summarizes the reality of the more than 750 million illiterates, often caught in a spiral of poverty and social exclusion.

Leonela, who passed away 5 years ago, served as a methodologist-inspector of the Department of Directed Studies and Correspondence, national Spanish methodologist for Adult Education in the Ministry of Education, and academic advisor of the Literacy Chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical Institute.

Life rewarded her pedagogical commitment (she went from a literacy teacher Conrado Benítez to a doctor of Pedagogical Sciences) with awards, inside and outside the country, for her and for the program she created: Heroine of Labor of the Republic of Cuba, Mention Honorable King Sejong, conferred by UNESCO; King Sejong award and international prize Mestres 68 to Yo sí puedo. (With information from (Photos: (Collage: RCA Web Team)