Monday, March 06, 2006

Twenty Students

There was an interesting letter in Socialist Worker this week:

I have just returned from a visit to Havana, Cuba, with a group of art students from Cardinal Wiseman high school in Ealing, west London. We spent a brilliant week working with students specialising in art at the San Alejandro school in the Marinao district.

An exhibition of the resulting work will be held during Easter at the NUT teachers’ union conference, then later at its head office in Euston.

There are shortages of food, housing and transport, as well as low income levels for Cuban workers. But I met a ministry of education official who earns the same £3 per week as most teachers and other professionals.

The single most amazing fact for anyone connected with education in Britain is that class sizes for Cuban children aged five to 14 are set at a maximum of 20.

There are often two qualified teachers per class.

So next time you hear Tony Blair and his cronies talk about wanting a “world class education system” for Britain ask why Labour can’t countenance any class size limit here – of 25, or even 30 – when we know that the private schools he bases his ideas on boast about their own low class sizes.

Nick Grant, West London

On average, my middle and high school classes were forty students strong. In the latter case, they would sometimes break fifty. On several occasions I remember there being an insufficient number of chairs and/or textbooks, resulting from excessive class sizes.

The UK has the fourth largest economy in the world. Cuba... well, doesn't. I was never the greatest mathematician, but even I can see these figures don't add up correctly.

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