28 November 2005

Education in a dictatorship courtesy of Te Wananga!

Trevor Loudon has pointed out that this week Te Wananga o Aotearoa is hosting the 7th World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education. The opening address on Sunday was from the Education Minister of Cuba – Luis Gomez Gutierrez as listed on this pdf file.

Te Wananga is a private organisation and people in a free country can organise whatever they like- unlike people in Cuba. However, the lack of any journalists in New Zealand will see the presence of one of Castro’s cronies, a representative of a government that uses education a blatantly a tool of state indoctrination, go almost unnoticed.

I don’t doubt that Mana media and most of the other Maori media will report on Luis Gomez Gutierrez as if he is just another Education Minister – like one from Australia, Canada or Sweden. Well he is NOT.

Cuba uses education not to train and teach children how to be their best, but as a tool of indoctrination and state worship. It teaches one view of history, and there is not the slightest hint of alternative points of view able to be disseminated – after all this is a one-party state which imprisons and executes those it believes to be opposed to the regime. Luis Gomez Gutierrez is in power, not because he was elected, but because he was selected. If you produced a leaflet calling for his resignation, or undertook a conference in Havana inviting the Australian Education Minister, you would be thrown in prison at best, at worst tortured and executed for treason. Cuba calls free broadcasting directed towards it with views it doesn’t like as “aggression” – see its own propaganda organ here if you can stomach it.

Here is one sample of what you can get a sentence from 26 months to 28 years for in Cuba, according to Amnesty International:

- publishing articles or giving interviews, in US-funded or other media, said to be critical of economic, social or human rights matters in Cuba;
- communicating with international human rights organisations;
- having contact with entities or individuals viewed as hostile to Cuba's interests, including US officials in Cuba, or members of the Cuban exile community in the United States or Europe;
- being involved in groups which are not officially recognised by the Cuban authorities or which are accused of conducting counterrevolutionary activity, including among others: unofficial trade unions; professional associations such as doctors' and teachers’ associations; academic institutions; press associations or independent libraries.

Don't you dare be involved in a group setting up an independent library -Mr Gutierrez's goons wont be amused.

Human Rights Watch reported on the crackdown against independent journalists and writers in 2003 when dozens were rounded up, arrested and imprisoned - this was described as an "attack on civil society".

In fact, pointing out any of this in Cuba would see me imprisoned - but hey it's ok they aren't part of the evil American/Western/Colonial/Genocidal elite (nobody ever tell Te Wananga that the history of Spanish colonisation of the Americas was not about respecting the indigenous people - but that's all forgotten since it was 300-400 years ago).

However, to the organiser of this conference, this is ok – Cuba being a one-party state which allows little dissent, no free speech is ok – it is, after all, an “alternative world view” and the moral equivalance of the scum who believe in this is clear.

Before I see it, yes I know China is just as bad, and the government sucks up to it for economic reasons, and the same with Iran. There would be similar criticism about the Education Minister of the People's Republic of China.

Setting that to one side, people can promote indigenous education of any kind if they wish. I believe that people should be able to set up whatever schools they like, and children can be taught there – but it should be by choice, and not taxpayer funded. Private schools should be free from the state system where they can rise or fall – and if people have their tax money back they can choose whatever school they like. Maori schools can flourish, as long as there is competition between schools and ideas.

However, using the Cuban Education Minister to open a conference sends a signal that indigenous education is about indoctrination, compulsion and authoritarianism – and if there was anything that the right and left of Parliament should be opposing, it is the presence of a Minister from such a regime.

So, I look forward to hearing the Greens, Labour, Act, Maori Party, National, NZ First, United Future and Jim Anderton condemning it – I wont be holding my breath! And I wonder if your taxes are helping pay for it? They are almost certainly helping some people attend it.

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