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Before describing the system of schools in Cuba and presenting the results of the census as shown in the schedules of education, it has been thought advisable to give a brief history of the subject as being of much interest to Cubans. This would not have been practicable from such investigation as the Director of the Census has been able to make, but fortunately the recent report of Mr. Robert L. Packard to the Commissioner of Education of the United States (see Report of the Commissioner, vol. 1, 1897–98) on education in Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines has removed all difficulty on this point and no apology is thought necessary for the copious extracts taken from his interesting and valuable memoir.
It may be said by way of preface that before the nineteenth century, education in Spain, as elsewhere in Europe, was confined almost exclusively to the children of those who could pay for it. Public and free schools were but little known. It is hardly to be expected, therefore, that the colonies of Spain would take more advanced ground or show greater interest in education as a means of general improvement than the mother country, in which the degree of illiteracy was, until very recently, as great as in any other civilized nation.
Commenting on the state of education in the early days of Cuba, Mr. Packard remarks as follows:
Even in Habana, up to the beginning of the last century, there were no public elementary schools, and the need of them became so evident that, by the munificence of a citizen (Caraballo), the Bethlehemite fathers opened a school where reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught, which was attended by 200 pupils. In Villa Clara a school was in existence since the foundation of the town, in 1689. In 1712 the philanthropic Don Juan Congedo, of Remedios, opened a free school there, and another in 1757 at Carmen. Another was opened at Arriaga in 1759; but on the death of Congedo these schools were closed. Don Juan Felix de Moya reopened that at Carmen, and the municipality in 1775 voted $25 a year for the support of the other, but both ceased to operate definitely in 1787. In 1771 Matanzas, seventyeight years after its foundation, authorized its governor to engage a school teacher in Habana.
Nor were secondary studies of a high character in the last century. Then, and subsequently, too, as the historian, Bachiller, quoted by Mitjans, remarks, more attention was paid to the pretentious form than the substance, and the title of academy or institute was given to institutions which were hardly more than primary schools, which held out inducements of a speedy preparation for the university. At that time, it should be remembered, the natural sciences had not reached the importance they subsequently attained, and the study of philosophy required the royal permission, so that secondary instruction was reduced to a superficial study of the humanities, especially Latin, which occupied the leading place on account of its use in fitting for the university and because teachers of Latin were easily found among the clergy, who were the principal factors of education at that period. All this may be said without detracting from the praiseworthy efforts and antiquity of some institutions like the Chapter of Habana, which in 1603, convinced of the need