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.

Source:  According to the World Bank Cuba is the country that invests more in education, by Salim Lamrani    Almayadeen

Special and exclusive to Al Mayadeen


2 thoughts on “World Bank: Cuba has the highest investment in education worldwide

  1. Cuba’s ranking as the leading nation on the planet by the World Bank in terms of its investment in education is a super important feat for the Cuban people and their revolution.
    Additionally, the correspondingly high levels of knowledge, skills and literacy of its people are also direct results of its high investment in education which are also impressive achievements of its revolution.
    However, it is interesting that the World Bank acknowledges Cuba’s leading ranking as the only country in the world with the highest i.e. 13% of its GDP invested in the education of its people including developed countries like the USA , Germany, Japan, Finland, China and others. Isn’t it noteworthy that prior to Cuba’s revolution in 1959 that the same World Bank did not and could not have credibly declared it as the leading country in education on the planet? Isn’t it also interesting that the World Bank could not even have declared Cuba the 10th, 20th, 35th or maybe even the 80th country in terms of investment as a percentage share of its GDP in the education of its people?
    In other words, when the dictators like Machado and Batista and their multimillionaire and billionarie friends were in charge of Cuba with the full backing of the American government and power, Cuba’s investment in education was minuscule as a share of its GDP. That is the only reason why the World Bank which is an international financial institution which is very friendly to the superich, the corporations and the powerful governments who dominate the world could not declare Cuba as the leading country with investment in education. In other words even with the superich and their dictator friends in power, the World Bank prior to 1959 could not have declared Cuba, the leading country in the world in education. There was simply no material basis for such a claim.
    Indeed, prior to this year albeit with its 50 odd year old revolution apparently there was no basis for such a declaration. However, recently in this year, the World Bank, a creation of imperialism to protect the interests of imperialism has unequivocally declared Cuba as the only country in the World that spends 0.13 cents out of every $1 of its GDP. Clearly, the World Bank had no choice but to do the right thing and declared Cuba as the leader in investment as a relative share of its GDP. Thus, the question becomes what has changed in Cuba in the last 56
    years that has changed the mind of the World Bank which is typically a guardian of imperialist interests in the world? The simple answer is that Cuba has had a revolution against dictators, criminals, corrupted politicians who stole billions from its treasury and corporations that plundered and exploited its people and resources that kept it underdeveloped and poor. In other words, Cuba and its people have created a revolution against its oligarchy and imperialism that did not have education as a priority on the or national agenda. That was why prior to the triumph of the Cuban revolution there were millions of Cubans who were illeterates, that was why scores of cities, villages, towns and cities in Cuba had little or no schools, medical colleges and universities, that was why the children of peasants and workers had little or no opportunities to get an education. However, on the 1st January 1959,the miserable lives of the majority of the Cuban people began to change in all spheres of their lives including education because that was the day on which the oligarchs, dictators and imperialists who ruled Cuba like their own private club were no longer the rulers. They no longer made policies, they no longer determined budgets, they no longer determined resource allocation in Cuba. On the contrary, it was now the Cuban people and their revolutionary leaders led by Fidel Castro Ruz who made those decisions and so it was they who placed education on the national agenda along with health care, housing, sports and the economy.
    Thus, it is the Cuban revolution that has made education a priority that has fed it with resources to make it the success it is today. That is the only reason why the World Bank had no choice but to speak the truth about Cuba’s educational achievements despite the criminal US blockade, despite Cuba being denominated a low income country by the same World Bank and despite all the lies about Cuba’s socio-economic successes.
    Thus, the World Bank by declaring Cuba the no.1 country in education investment in the world has implicitly acknowledged Cuba ‘s revolution as the reason for this impressive achievement.

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