Socialist Consciousness Raising and Cuba's School to the Countryside Program


Denise Blum is Assistant Professor at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, California State University, Fresno (


As a participant-observer, the author relates observations, interviews, and surveys from her experience in a Cuban Escuela al Campo (“School to the Countryside,” or EAC) camp located on a collective farm outside of the city of Havana. The Pioneers, the youth section of the official Cuban Communist Party, organize the EAC program nationwide. The program's rugged, military lifestyle experience is required for city-based junior high school students in Cuba, an essential rite of passage of the politicization and socialist consciousness-raising efforts designed by the Revolutionary Government. The author proposes that beneath the revolutionary symbols and activities of the EAC, a new and latent socialist consciousness has been evolving for some time, one that reflects neither an absolute nor an erosion of socialist ideals. Rather, this consciousness (conciencia), much like A. Yurchak (2005) demonstrates in his study of Gorbachev's Russia, reveals a system that inhabits incommensurable positions; Cuba's socialism is both everlasting and steadily declining, at the same time full of vigor and bleakness, as well as dedicated to high ideals and devoid of them. None of these positions is a mask. The intention of this article is, therefore, to show how each is real and mutually constitutive in the EAC. Understanding this peculiar dynamic is crucial for understanding the everyday practices of students, their parents and teachers, the socializing function of Cuban schools, and the seemingly duplicitous behavior in Cuban's daily lives. [Cuban education, socialism, value formation]