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1961 Cuban Literacy Campaign Participants' Socio-Political Development from a Critical Literacy Stance

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posted on 01.05.2020, 00:00 authored by Rita Sacay
Ser Culto es ser Libre To be Cultured [is the only way] to be Free The 1961 Cuban Literacy Campaign (CLC), initiated on January 1, was a socio-political project of the Cuban Revolution seeking to eradicate profound social and racial inequalities in Cuba. While little is known about the groundwork for the campaign announced at the UNESCO in September 1960, the literature indicates that research and careful planning were part of Cuba’s preparation for the campaign. Therefore, a country holding a 76% literacy rate, ranking fourth in Latin America in 1959, was able to increase its literacy rate by 20% in less than one year. Cuba became an illiteracy-free country. Increasing the literacy rate was part of the Cuban Revolution’s goals (also prior to the revolution) of creating a new man/woman with new values, contrary to capitalist ones. Values, such as being "cultured" proposed by José Martí (a Cuban national hero), were central to the formation of new, liberated Cuban, while raising awareness of the Revolution’s projects already in motion since 1959. The massive collective participation, the organized grassroots movement, and the historical events derived from the unstable international relations with the U.S., led to the CLC’s success and the development of participants socio-political awareness. I use Paulo Freire’s epistemology to examine the experiences of research-participants (student, teachers, and organizing committee), as well as to highlight the aspects contributing to the participants’ socio-political development. I interpret my findings to answer my research questions within the context of theory and the existing literature.



Gutstein, Eric "Rico"


Gutstein, Eric "Rico"


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Woodard, Rebecca Schubert, William Morales, Paola Zitlali Lipman, Pauline

Submitted date

May 2020

Thesis type