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Challenge to Cuba and Nicaraguan literacy claims



Hank Levin does not accept Tim Brown's explanation. "We seem to be living in 1984. I did not request of Tim Brown anything about whether Marxist dictatorships falsify literacy data. What I did do is ask Tim Brown what evidence he has that UNESCO falsified the literacy data on Cuba as he suggested. I cited one of the many reports on the subject and the reputation of the principal esearcher. Please refer back to my original request.

Recall that the UNESCO report said that Cuba was one standard deviation above the other Latin American countries in achievement performance in Spanish and Mathematics (the equivalent of the 84th percentile relative to the 50th percentile for the other countries). Mr. Brown responded that these numbers must be off because countries like Cuba distort data as Nicaragua did with its literacy data. I suggested that the literacy data are easy to "distort" because they are not established statistically by an outside agency, but simply a report to a survey questionnaire that is sent to countries. My guess is that most countries simply have a bureaucrat write in a number that cannot be verified. In contrast, the UNESCO survey was a scientific effort to use uniform procedures to measure achievement among schoolchildren in the different countries and was designed and analyzed by internationally-recognized experts".

My final word: We will have to leave the discussion there. The topic is very technical, and we have heard both sides.

Ronald Hilton - 3/26/02


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