The Latin American Experience
Edited by Gabriela Dutrénit and Judith Sutz
Chapter 9: Higher education, innovation and local development: experiences in Cuba
In spite of persistent health and education social policies, subsidised products and services, and the effort towards establishing the most equal possible distribution of wealth, in Cuban society – emerging slowly from the deep economic crisis the country has lived through since the 1990s–there are still important shortcomings in the lives of many people. Without a doubt, phenomena like poverty, inequality, inequity and marginality have been accentuated in the last two decades (Espina, 2012). Among other many imperatives, it is urgent for Cuba to significantly increase food production, accelerate housing construction, enhance the use of renewable energy sources and facilitate access to benefits for many people. It is important to highlight that these necessities demand the deployment of technological and innovative solutions, supported by knowledge, scientific research and capacity-building processes. Like other countries of Latin America, most of the science and technology capacities in Cuba are concentrated in the universities. However, connecting those capacities with the necessities of people’s daily lives is not simple. Frequently, the university agenda, prevalent institutional structures and policies, and incentives systems generate dynamics of science and technology that are barely connected with those daily necessities. The links between researchers (and their institutions) and communities are usually not sufficiently intense as to promote the ‘innovative circuits’ and ‘interactive spaces of learning’ (Arocena and Sutz, 2006 ) required to solve such problems.
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