(Telesur) – Fifty-five years ago today, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared the socialist island a territory free of illiteracy, fulfilling the dream of the Cuban Revolution that began with a massive free literacy program for all Cubans.
Fidel’s words on that famous Dec. 22, 1961, in Revolutionary Plaza in Havana, was a result of the hard work of more than 250,000 young Cubans who took part in the volunteer literacy brigades that traveled the entire breadth of the island bringing literacy to the most remote corners of the country.
“No moment is more solemn and exciting, no instant full of legitimate pride and glory than this, in which four and a half centuries of ignorance have been defeated,” said Fidel.
“When we said we would eradicate illiteracy in only one year, it seemed a reckless statement, it seemed impossible,” he continued. “Only a country in revolution would have been capable of deploying the effort and energy necessary to carry out such a gigantic mission.”
Every year on Dec. 22, Cuba celebrates Teachers’ Day, to remember the hard work of its citizens’ unprecedented achievement to become the first Latin American country free of illiteracy.
During an event to celebrate the anniversary in Havana, a group of teachers who volunteered during the campaign honored Fidel Castro and his work to improve education in the island.
“It was a task for everyone. Fidel called and the youth responded,” said Zoila Benitez, one of the teachers who participated in the literacy campaign.
Olga Lidia Tapia, a member of the Cuban Communist Party, said the revolutionary education process in Cuba has changed the island forever and inspired others around the world.
“This process transformed realities and made reading and writing a legacy for all,” said Tapia.