Radio Cadena Agramonte
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The History of the University of Camagüey Told in One Book



By Arailaisy Rosabal García / Radio Cadena Agramonte
lasy@rcagramonte.icrt.cu

One of the main achievements of the Revolution and the building of socialism is the educational system in Cuba. Since 1959, million Cubans have been beneficiaries of the policies implemented on education, which after decades of hard work have allowed showing indicators of quality, even higher than in some developed countries.

In the Revolutionary period, the role of the university has been also revalued, on the basis of the requirements of the current historical moment. So, the tertiary educational institutions network started to expand itself with a view to developing the human capital, which was an essential factor for the economic, political and social transformation of the island nation.

The first university established under such a conception was the University of Camagüey, which commemorated its 43rd anniversary on November 6th. That’s why, we decided to talk to MSc. Ubaldo de Jesus Fernández Medina, author of the book “History of the University of Camaguey, 1967-2007”, -currently undergoing the edition process for the forthcoming publication- which is a radiography of the above mentioned institution in its four decades of existence.

- Why and how to assume the writing of a book on the history of our university?

“Because any great task must be written, and from the very beginning the Ignacio Agramonte University of Camagüey has been that, especially for the challenges that it has had to meet, sometime successfully, sometime not.

“This university won the condition of National Vanguard in several occasions. In addition, in the 2006-2007 school year we ranked second in the national friendly competition among higher education institutions, marking the anniversary of the rebel attack on the Moncada Barracks.

“The book is also a summary of what our university has been, and attempts to be a reference when we talk about Camagüey and its history”.

- What kind of events, stories, items, can we find in this book?

“It might be pretentious, but we are trying to build a chronology with the main events which have occurred since the beginning. The book explains how the university was set out and began to grow, it narrates how each faculty was established, the changes and transformations that followed as a result of the reforms of the system, the results in the teaching, research and extracurricular milieu – for instance the creation of Maraguan dance and music ensemble, which is an icon and pride for Camaguey, in Cuba and abroad.

“In the annexes, important statistics are included, for example: the student enrollment and the postgraduates from 1967 until 2007; a list with the names of the rectors, vice-rectors, deans and other members of board of directors also appears, as well as dignitaries which have been conferred the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa and the Elegía Camagüeyana de Nicolás Guillén, which also grants this higher education institution.

“But perhaps the most important thing is the transcript of the letter sent by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro in January, 1978 to the students and lecturers of this center, in which
he asks to endorse José Martí’s ideals when he says: “Education begins when life begins and does not end but when one dies”. Ever since, this has been has been the principle of this university.

- When will we have the opportunity to have this text on our hands?

“As I’ve been told, the book undergoes the final stages of the editorial process, and we want to make the first launch of it on December 22, hailing the Teacher's Day. We hope so.

- Finally, considering your experience…what are the biggest challenges that the higher education system faces at present in the province?

“The most immediate thing is to take with responsibility and professionalism the transformations that have been announced, aiming at strengthening this necessary dependency between training university graduates and the needs of the society. We should also continue our efforts in order to preserve the progress made in the field of professional motivation. And of course, the most important thing is to keep on writing the pages of the wonderful history of this university.(Translated by Gualveris Rosales Sánchez)