Education is a very important aspect of human development. An education system aims at providing people with knowledge and skills that would help them tackle day-to-day challenges. Therefore every responsible society tries to ensure high level of education to its people. The importance of education in human development is reflected by inclusion of universal education as one of Millennium Development Goals. To achieve high standard of education, funding is required. Education is considered a priority in most countries as reflected in most national budgets. In the paper I will compare and contrast education funding in England and Cuba and its effect on literacy level and quality of education.
Education in Cuba and England
England and Cuba have very different political and economic systems but education is very important to both. England is a democracy and has capitalism economic systems while Cuba operates communism. The different political and economical systems have significant impact on education funding in both countries. In England education funding is both individual and state responsibility while in Cuba it’s primarily state’s responsibility.
Education is central to Cuba government where Ministry of education and Ministry of Higher education oversee the education system. In both countries basic education is compulsory. In England basic education is compulsory as from age 5 to 16 but this has been extended to 18 years through Education and Skills Act 2008. In Cuba children are expected to undergo compulsory education from age 6 to age 15 or 16 (Gasperini, 2000, Par 5). Although college and higher education is voluntary in both countries, there is high commitment to promote post high school education.
English and Cuban governments are committed to ensure affordability and accessibility of quality education through funding. While free education is provided in state run schools in England, education is absolutely free for all Cuban children. After Cuban revolution, the Cuban government undertook full responsibility for educating its citizens (Williams, 1999, p. 15). Private schools and institute of higher education that existed before the revolution were nationalized leading to a fully state run education system. In contrast to Cuba education System, England allows private education institutions where parents or guardians sponsor their children’s education (Ward, 2007, p. 37).
Political and economical systems in the two countries affect education funding. As a neoliberal country, education funding in England is left to market forces. The government does not interfere on the courses that students pursue. Cuba on the other hand operates socialism with communism influences. The Cuban government directs education funding with aim of satisfying its economic needs. For example, when the country is in need of health workers, the government directs more funding to health related courses and therefore influence students’ choice for courses.
Funding further education is one of the major challenges in most countries’ education systems. In Cuba, education is provided free of charge right from basic to higher education. The Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for providing funding to the higher learning institutions. The ministry is also responsible for policy issues involving the institutions and allocation of places to students. Universities and other institutes of higher learning receive allocation from the national budget through the ministry.
The funding includes tuition and student maintenance that include boarding, food and other necessary materials. Education funding in Cuba has experienced challenges despite of government commitment. Collapse of Soviet Society and trade embargo from United States affected education financing significantly. The period after 1992, referred to as Special Period, led to reduction in government allocation to education. Education funding has however improved as the country’s economy recovers.
In England, further and higher education is chiefly funded by the government except in private institutions (Greenaway and Haynes, 2003, p. 151). Students however are expected to contribute part of the funding as tuition and top up fees (Barr and Crawford, 2005, p. 79). A tuition fee of 1000 pounds was introduced in 1998 through Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 and revised to 3000 pounds in 2004 through Higher Education Act 2004.
The government through Student Finance England provides tuition and maintenance loans to students. The body also provides grants to needy students. Students are expected to repay the loans after completing their studies. In spite of the tuition and maintenance loans and grants, students still rely on financial help from parents and relatives especially when attending universities away from their homes (Shepherd, 2010, par 4). Higher Education Funding Council for England is the primary body responsible for allocation of funding to institute of higher learning. Unlike in Cuba, the government does not interfere with programs in institutes of higher learning.
Effect on Quality and Literacy Level
As aforementioned, funding is a fundamental element in an education system. Success of education system in Cuba and England can testify to this claim. In England about 93 percent of children attend state run schools and therefore benefit from free basic education. On the other hand 99 percent of Cuban children are able to attend state funded schools with more than 400 thousand students enrolled in the schools (Marquis, 2000, par 5). As a result of committed state funding, the countries have some of the highest literacy level in the world. England had a literacy level of 99% while Cuba has 98% literacy level.
Success of an education system is highly dependent on funding. In both Cuba and England, funding education is a national priority. Communist Cuban government sponsors education right from elementary to higher learning. In England, education is provided free of charge in state schools while students are expected to top up a small proportion for their higher education. Student Finance England plays a vital role in promoting higher education through tuition and maintenance loans and grants. High literacy levels and quality of education in these countries can be attributed to, among other factors, committed state funding.
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Gasperini, L., 2000. The Cuban Education System: Lessons and Dilemmas. Web.
Greenaway, D. and Haynes, M., 2003. Funding Higher Education in the UK: The role of Fees and Loans. The Economic Journal Vol. 113, no. 485, pp. 150-166.
Marquis, C., 2001. Education in Cuba. Web.
Shepherd, J., 2010.Thousands of students would drop out without cash from family and friends, survey finds. Web.
Ward, H., 2007. The Education System of England and Wales and Its Recent History. London: Read Books.
Williams, J., 1999. Education for slavery or Liberation. Broadways: Resistance Books.