TYPE: Flag / Banner
DIMENSIONS: 29 x 17 inches
Foreign Language Inscription: Territorio Libre De Analfabetismo
Inscription Translation: Territory Free Of Illiteracy
ITEM ID: 4872
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Original Flag from Campana Nacional de Alfabetizacion – The Cuban Literacy Campaign

DATE
Year: 1961
Decade: 1960s
Century: 20th (1901-2000)

Original flag from the Cuban Literacy Campaign. “Territorio Libre De Analfabetismo”

The Cuban Literacy Campaign (Spanish: Campaña Nacional de Alfabetización en Cuba) was a year-long effort to abolish illiteracy in Cuba after the Cuban Revolution. It began on January 1 and ended on December 22, 1961, becoming the world’s most ambitious and organized literacy campaign.

Before 1959 the official literacy rate for Cuba was between 60% and 76%, largely because of lack of education access in rural areas and a lack of instructors. As a result, the Cuban government of Fidel Castro at Che Guevara’s behest dubbed 1961 the “year of education” and sent “literacy brigades” out into the countryside to construct schools, train new educators, and teach the predominantly illiterate guajiros (peasants) to read and write. The campaign was “a remarkable success.” By its completion, 707,212 adults were taught to read and write, raising the national literacy rate to 96%.

In 2011, producer and director Catherine Murphy released the 33-minute documentary Maestra about the Cuban Literacy Campaign. The film includes interviews with volunteers who taught during the campaign and archival footage from 1961.