A revolutionary tank at the Universidad de Havana

While on holiday in Cuba in March, 2009, I was invited in a very roundabout way to meet with the Distance Education department of the Universidad de Havana. U of H has over 10,000 distance education enrollments.

It uses primarily print-based materials, but more recently has been experimenting with online courses. The country has just 14.2 internet users per 100 of the population.

However, access to the Internet is restricted to what is essentially a national intranet. Some professors have been ‘cleared’ for full international Internet access, but students are limited to working through the ‘official’ Internet and university portals.

In July 2011, Cuba will move from an expensive international satellite Internet link, limited to 380 megabits er second, to a fibre optic undersea cable connection with Venezuela (funded by Venezuela) and later Jamaica. The US embargo has prevented Cuba connecting with existing Caribbean networks. Even with the new connection, there will still be some censorship restrictions and not necessarily broader communication, with the focus on improving communications for those using the island intranet.

I would like to have learned more about distance education in Cuba than was possible in a very brief visit. There was a great deal of interest in e-learning among the professors and staff that I met, and as everywhere else in Cuba, I was received with amazing friendliness and hospitality. From the little I saw, the DE department is doing excellent work with limited resources.

However, the political and economic climate in Cuba will have to change a great deal more before they can use the Internet in ways similar to non-Cuban programs.

Tony with DE staff at University of Havana


  1. hi,
    tony nice to see your blog here.distance education is a great way to promote education sector.and i think distance education is more powerful in cuba.I think there was a great deal of interest in e-learning among the professors and staff.

    • Hi, James

      You best bet is to approach the University of Havana Distance Education department. I know they offer many courses at a distance, but cannot say whether you can do a whole Bachelor of Commerce at a distance. But the DE department can give you the information.

      Good luck with your studies

      • Please i can visit havana iam in zambia right now can some one give me the email address so that i can contact the university

  2. Can a Cuban in Holguin take an on line personal support worker program from Ontario as there doesn’t seem to be that course in Cuba. Can the Cuban get any access to internet in a school if they have their own computer to use? Who should I contact?

    • Hi, Bev
      I’m hoping some of my Cuban readers will answer this but here’s my response.
      There should not be a problem on the Canadian side as long as the Cuban meets the specific program requirements and can pay the fees (if any). There is no embargo in Canada on Cuban students taking online courses from Canadian institutions.
      The problem is more likely to be in Cuba, where general access to the Internet beyond Cuba is not permitted. However, there are exceptions. For instance ‘approved’ professors can have access to international IP numbers. Thus the student will probably need to get permission from an appropriate Party member.
      I hope that helps


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