Young Matanzas who, although they already comb gray hair and walk with a much slower pace, retain the energy and the faculties to continue the educational-educational work, celebrated the 59th anniversary of their graduation as Volunteer Teachers. Act occurred on August 29, but from 1960, at the Amadeo Roldán Theater.
A million illiterates, 600 thousand children without schools and in contrast to this ten thousand teachers lacking employment was the sad reality in Cuba at the triumph of the Revolution. To face this situation and, fundamentally, to cover the educational demand in rural and mountainous areas, the Revolutionary Government would create ten thousand classrooms.
It was then that more than four thousand young high school students, 112 of them from Matanzas, responded positively to Fidel’s call and joined the first contingent of Volunteer Teachers.
For them an emotional meeting was held in the Historical Archive, in which the documentary was presented And I became a teacher, in which life in the Sierra Maestra camps is narrated with images and sound. Anecdotes were also told and donated personal documents and photographs of those times.
Reynaldo Nilo Chirino Falcón, one of the protagonists of that youth epic, today as coordinator of the Matanzas group, recounts that it was in 1999 when they began to meet from the initiative of Pedro Ross Leal, then secretary general of the CTC.
“But Pedro Ross Leal is also a volunteer teacher and that’s how we created the group of Matanzas to whom we named Gladys Moliner, one of our classmates. For this work we went several times to the Literacy Museum and there we found all, absolutely all the documents of the volunteer teachers, files, photos …, from there we took out the relationship of Matanzas and from that moment we began to communicate with them.
«Today everyone is not in the province, but we always communicate.»To his comment Chirino adds the great contribution that the Matanzas offered as a group.
“We were the first and only people in the country who recorded the Anthem of the Volunteer Masters and did it with the Matanzas Choir. We also keep videos of the meetings that take place between the groups of volunteer teachers from the different provinces and when we move the remains of Conrado Benítez to Matanzas, his hometown. ”
This is how those young people, who, in addition to acting as volunteer teachers, contributed significantly to the preparation of the Literacy Campaign, entered the history of Education.
“It is said that the transformation in education came with the Literacy Campaign, but who prepared the campaign if we were not the volunteer teachers? We did the censuses and created the conditions for them to be the brigade members, boys whom we often advised and cared for. In fact, the brigade members are named Conrado Benítez, a volunteer teacher killed by a band of counterrevolutionary elevators in the exercise of their duty: to teach reading and writing. ”
Arguments for which Reynaldo Nilo Chirino Falcón, that volunteer teacher who became a professor of Philosophy at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Matanzas, sentenced.
«I would do what I did again … I strengthened myself as a revolutionary, as a follower of Fidel.»