World Bank: Cuba has the highest investment in education worldwide

Mar 24, 2015 by

World Bank: Cuba has the highest investment in education worldwide

March 14 2015

by Salim Lamrani

According to the international institution, no country, including the richest, spend such a high part of its national budget on education as Cuba. The results are outstanding.

cuban school children 3Cuba is a world leader in education, according to a World Bank classification which placed Cuba in the top position in terms of investment in education for 2009-2013.  With nearly 13% (12.9%) of GDP invested in this sector, Cuba has made social policy a development model for nations as it leads the world, including the most developed countries, in this area. [1]

Timor Leste and Denmark round the world podium, with 11.3% and 8.7% of GDP respectively, dedicated to education. By comparison, the United States spends only 5.4%, i.e. less than a half of corresponding figure for Cuba; and Canada 5.5%.

In Europe, France spends 5.9% of its national budget on education, Germany 5.1%, UK 6.2%, Italy 4.5% and Spain 5%.

Bolivia ranks second in Latin America

In Latin America, Bolivia ranks second behind Cuba at 7.6%. Brazil attaches 5.8% of GDP on this sector, while Mexico and Argentina will spend 5.2% and 5.8% respectively. [2]

It is not the first time that the World Bank has praised Cuba’s accomplishment in this field. In another report published in 2014, the international organization notes that the Island has the best education system in Latin America and the Caribbean;  one with “strong academic talent, high wages and high professional autonomy that characterize the most effective educational systems in the world, such as in Finland, Singapore, Shanghai (China), Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada. “[3]

Health education, culture and sport have always been a priority in Cuba

Areas such as health education, culture and sport have always been a priority in Cuba and the results are outstanding.  With a literacy rate of 99.8%, the island exhibits the lowest rate of illiteracy of Latin America, according to UNESCO, which also emphasizes that Cuba has the highest enrollment rate in Latin America with 99.7 of the students with free education.

Another UNESCO report on education in 13 countries in Latin America ranks Cuba in first place in all subjects and stresses that a Cuban student has twice the knowledge and skills of the average Latin American student. [4]

Austerity policies and the dismantling of the welfare state are actually harmful to the public interest

The World Bank, in praising the Cuban educational system, confirms in a way that austerity policies and the dismantling of the welfare state are actually harmful to the public interest. By prioritizing education, Cuba shows the world that it is possible to provide all citizens with a high level access to knowledge and training.  The limited resources is has as a Third World nation  and the  extremely severe economic sanctions imposed by the United States for more than half a century, have not prevented the Caribbean island from enjoying an efficient education system and remembering to locate the human being in the center of the social project.

* PhD in Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani is a professor at the University of Reunion and journalist specializing in relations between Cuba and the United States. His latest book is titled Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality , New York, Monthly Review Press, 2014, with a foreword by Eduardo Galeano.

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[1] World Bank , “Public Spending on Education, Total (% of GDP)”, 2014. (accessed December 31 site 2014).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Barbara Bruns & Javier Luque, excellent teachers. How to improve learning in Latin America and the Caribbean , Washington, World Bank, Accessed August 30, 2014).

[4] Salim Lamrani, Cuba: les médias face au défi de l’impartialité , Paris, Star, 2013, p. 38.

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