Teaching Cooperative Law and Cooperative Education. A dialectical pair?

Cooperativismo y Desarrollo, January-April 2020; 8(1), 7-18
Translated from the original in Spanish


Teaching Cooperative Law and Cooperative Education. A dialectical pair?


Enseñanza del Derecho Cooperativo y Educación Cooperativa. ¿Un par dialéctico?


O Ensino do Direito Cooperativo e Educação Cooperativa. Um Par Dialéctico?


Aliani Díaz López1, Liyanis Santana Santana2, Nileidys Torga Hernández3

1Universidad de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca". Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades. Departamento de Derecho. Pinar del Río. Cuba. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3165-669X. Email: aliani@upr.edu.cu
2Universidad de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca". Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades. Departamento de Derecho. Pinar del Río. Cuba. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6266-051X. Email: sofia@upr.edu.cu
3Universidad de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca". Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades. Departamento de Derecho. Pinar del Río. Cuba. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5270-8375. Email: nileidys@upr.edu.cu


Received: January 14th, 2019.
Accepted: January 15th, 2020.


The 2030 Agenda proposes seventeen sustainable development goals that include: Fourth: "Ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all"; Eighth: "Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all" and Twelfth: "Ensure sustainable consumption and production modalities". In the context of the update of the Cuban Economic Model, Cuba has decided to articulate a series of transformations aimed, among other things, at strengthening the cooperative sector that includes the recognition and legal regulation of non-agricultural cooperatives, as a new modality within the Cuban economic actors. The present work exposes the relationship between education and cooperatives with the objective of arguing the relationship between Cooperative Law and cooperative education. Theoretical, logical and empirical methods were used for the development of the research, among which are: historical, dialectical-materialist, systemic and observation methods. The aforementioned methods allowed addressing some doctrinal and historical considerations about the need for cooperative education as a viable alternative for the full development of the non-agricultural cooperative as an economic actor in the current Cuban context, all of the above backed by the teaching of Cooperative Law.

Keywords: cooperative law; cooperative education


La Agenda 2030 propone diecisiete objetivos de desarrollo sostenible dentro de los que se encuentran: Cuarto: "Garantizar una educación inclusiva, equitativa y de calidad, promover oportunidades de aprendizaje durante toda la vida para todos"; Octavo: "Promover el crecimiento económico sostenido, inclusivo y sostenible, el empleo pleno y productivo y el trabajo decente para todos" y Duodécimo: "Garantizar modalidades de consumo y producción sostenible". En el contexto de la actualización del modelo económico cubano, Cuba ha decidido articular una serie de transformaciones, dirigidas, entre otras cuestiones, al fortalecimiento del sector cooperativo, que incluye el reconocimiento y regulación legal de las cooperativas no agropecuarias como una nueva modalidad dentro de los actores económicos cubanos. El presente trabajo expone la relación entre la educación y las cooperativas, teniendo como objetivo: argumentar la relación que existe entre el derecho cooperativo y la educación cooperativa. Para el desarrollo de la investigación, se emplearon métodos teóricos, lógicos y empíricos, dentro de los que se encuentran: método histórico, dialéctico-materialista, sistémico y la observación. Los aludidos métodos permitieron abordar algunas consideraciones doctrinales e históricas sobre la necesidad de la educación cooperativa como alternativa viable para el pleno desarrollo de la cooperativa no agropecuaria como actor económico del contexto cubano actual; todo lo anterior respaldado por la enseñanza del derecho cooperativo.

Palabras clave: derecho cooperativo; educación cooperativa


A Agenda 2030 propõe dezessete objetivo de desenvolvimento sustentável, entre os quais se destacam Quarto: "Assegurar uma educação inclusiva, equitativa e de qualidade, promover oportunidades de aprendizagem ao longo da vida para todos"; Oitavo: "Promover o crescimento económico sustentável, inclusivo e sustentável, o emprego pleno e produtivo e o trabalho digno para todos" e Décimo Segundo: "Assegurar padrões de consumo e produção sustentáveis". No contexto da atualização do modelo econômico cubano, Cuba decidiu articular uma série de transformações, visando, entre outras questões, o fortalecimento do setor cooperativo, que inclui o reconhecimento legal e a regulamentação das cooperativas não agrícolas como uma nova modalidade dentro dos atores econômicos cubanos. O presente trabalho expõe a relação entre educação e cooperativas, tendo como objetivo: discutir a relação que existe entre o direito cooperativo e a educação cooperativa. Para o desenvolvimento da pesquisa foram utilizados métodos teóricos, lógicos e empíricos, entre os quais: histórico, dialético-materialista, sistémico e método de observação. Os métodos acima mencionados tornaram possível abordar algumas considerações doutrinárias e históricas sobre a necessidade da educação cooperativa como uma alternativa viável para o pleno desenvolvimento da cooperativa não agrícola como ator económico no atual contexto cubano; tudo isto apoiado pelo ensino da lei cooperativa.

Palavras-chave: direito cooperativo; educação cooperativa



The well-known Agenda 2030 proposes seventeen sustainable development objectives, all of which are interrelated. However, for the purposes of the reflections that will be made in this work, the fourth, eighth and twelfth objectives are of vital importance. In order, the first of these refers to the need to "Ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all", then to "Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all", and finally to the twelfth objective, "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns".

The current guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution (PCC, 2017), approved by the Sixth Party Congress and updated for the period 2016-2021, in the plenary session of the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, in April 2016, warn of several issues related to the above. Directly related to the aforementioned eighth and twelfth objectives, the legal recognition and regulation of the non-agro livestock cooperative as a new form of the Cuban economic actors is a clear sign of the existence of a new form of full and productive employment and decent work within Cuban society, which we all help to shape with a spirit of renewal and sustainable consumption and production modalities.

In line with this, the following question could arise: What is the relationship between the objective of guaranteeing inclusive, equitable and quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, and cooperatives, whatever their form as vital economic agents within the current Cuban economic context? The answer to such concern derives from the main thread of the present work, which aims at arguing the relationship between cooperative law and cooperative education, based on the question that gives rise to the title, a dialectical pair?



Theoretical, logical and empirical methods were used to develop the research. Namely: The historical method was useful in that it contributed to the search for historical truth about the essence of the cooperativization process and the role of the cooperative as a vital economic agent within the current Cuban economic context. The procedures used were analysis and synthesis for the decomposition of the functioning of these objects into their various parts and the establishment of the relations between them.

In the logical order, the dialectical method was important to base the new requirements imposed on the cooperatives by the Process of Updating the Cuban Economic Model as an element that marks the current Cuban economic context and to assess the factors that have conditioned the current functioning of the co-operative process in Cuba. The systemic method provided the general orientation, based on a comprehensive analysis of the co-operative process in Cuba.

In the empirical order, the observational method was used in the qualitative diagnosis of the situation addressed. In addition, the review of documents was used as a source of information for the systematization of theoretical aspects.



Vertices of an equilateral triangle: education, pedagogy and lifelong learning

To paraphrase the Cuban apostle, if education is to prepare man for life, then education exists from the very moment the human species emerges. Historically, the word "education" has had two meanings: One, that comes from educare (to raise, to feed); and another, that comes from ex-ducere (to take out, to carry, to lead from the inside to the outside). The above has led to two orientations that have defined education. The first one conceives it as the feeding process that, by means of an external influence, increases the biological and spiritual being of man (educare) and, the second defines it as the channeling process or of the conduction of dispositions that already exist in the being, which proposes the physical and spiritual configuration of the being (ex-ducere) (Chávez et al., 2003, p. 10).

There is really no opposition between these two forms, as they both complement each other; therefore: Education is any process of influence, of configuration or development of man, at the same time as the effect of that influence, of that configuration or of that development (Chávez et al., 2003, p. 11). According to eminent Cuban pedagogues, among which Professor Chávez (2003) counts, education fulfills three essential functions, namely: the instructive-educational, the formative-developmental and the socio-individualizing.

The first of such functions alludes to the need to propitiate the cognitive orientation of the person, understood, as the appropriation of knowledge and skills; but the referred appropriation would be incomplete if it does not take place from a spiritual perspective or that it takes into account the resulting values of the society in which that person develops. The formative-developmental function is highly linked to the conception of man or learner as a bio psychosocial being, dependent and expression, at the same time, of the historical moment in which he develops. Finally, the socio-individualizing function finds its space when the agents and agencies that participate in the education of the subject are verified. Each individual contains a personality that is only completed after interaction with the social group, which results in originality and creativity that are reverted in the individual and social spheres.

At present, the world is witnessing, from the scientific point of view, strong debates about whether or not to consider pedagogy as a science. It is the opinion of these authors that Pedagogy is one of the sciences that make up the so-called Educational Sciences, thus following the line of thought of Chávez, who refers:

"Pedagogy is one of the Educational Sciences, but it approaches the educational phenomenon in a way that, unlike the others, it has the particularity of having it as the only object of study. It should be immediately clarified that the limit of Pedagogy with respect to that of the other sciences is also different. This science does not deal with education in all its social magnitude, but only with that which exists consciously organized and oriented to a determined social and political end, which is offered in school and out-of-school institutions, as well as by other forms of organization, although in close connection with the other educational agencies of society" (Chávez et al., 2003, p. 20).

The analyses and definitions presented on education and pedagogy are completed if we take into account, as the Cuban thinker José de la Luz y Caballero, quoted by Sánchez de Bustamante (1981, p. 167), that "education begins in the cradle and ends in the grave". It is a matter of understanding and internalizing that education is a whole process that takes place throughout a person's life, oriented towards the formation and development of the personality, which must be given in close relationship with the context in which the individual develops and is an expression of the society in which he or she is living. Education cannot, in any way, dispense with activity and communication, since such categories become the cornerstone of the formation of man, understood as philosophical categories through which it will be possible to develop each personality individually, but which in turn make it possible to establish the process of socialization.

This is an opportune moment to refer to the fact that education in Cuba, since times as remote as 1800, through the thinking of the aforementioned José de la Luz y Caballero and other thinkers and pedagogues such as Varela and Martí, already provided for the objective of sustainable development proposed in Agenda 2030 with the fourth numeral, referring to "Guaranteeing inclusive, equitable and quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The criteria, so far set out, result in recognizing that if, in the mathematical order, the equilateral triangle is one that has all its sides equal, to which equal angles are opposed, in the order of the social sciences, education, pedagogy and learning, throughout life, can constitute true vertices of a geometric figure that, when decomposed, can generate a straight line with three points at the same distance, ordered in the order of analysis of the categories mentioned, meaning that education is the process that makes the development of the person possible, that pedagogy is the science that establishes, studies and unravels the value of the categories, principles and laws that govern the educational process and that the aforementioned process must be carried out throughout the life of the person, taking into account the context, age, needs, motives and expectations of the human being.

Fig. 1 - Vertices of an equilateral triangle: education, pedagogy and lifelong learning
Source: Own elaboration

The cooperative principle of Education, Training and Information: the value of cooperative education and the teaching of cooperative law

The cooperative as an economic actor in Cuba has a historical tradition with regard to the agricultural sector. With the policy of the Party's Guidelines, the non-agro livestock cooperative (CNA) emerges as a new type of economic actor and from which a strong debate has been fostered from economic, legal and even educational perspectives. Following the line of thought of the Cuban professor Rodríguez Musa

[...] the issue of the legal nature of the cooperative has been much debated, as the flexibility of the cooperative principles allows the doctrine, the legislator and the jurisprudence to make a partisan typification of the phenomenon (Rodríguez Musa, 2016).

In this sense, it highlights the doctrinal aspect that considers the co-operative as an autonomous category. It does not accept the corporate nature of the cooperative, since it is non-profit-making, which is an essential requirement for it to be considered as such. In turn, it denies that they are associations in the strict sense of the word, since they do not encompass its business content and furthermore, because they have a series of differentiating features that delimit its identity (Rodríguez Musa, 2016).

There are several principles that guide the actions of the legal figure of the cooperative, all of which are closely related. For the purposes of the analyses and considerations that have been made up to now, the fifth of the co-operative principles recognized in the Declaration on the Co-operative Identity, Manchester, in 1995, is of utmost interest. The principle referred to is identified as "education, training and information" and refers to [...] cooperatives provide education and training to their members, elected representatives, officers and employees, so that they can contribute effectively to the development of cooperatives They inform the general public, particularly youth and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of co-operation (International Co-operative Alliance, 1995).

From the above, the definitions that can be had around cooperative education and cooperative law, following the line of thought of Professor Rodríguez Musa (2016), become a necessary reflection.

It is opportune to recognize the existing debate regarding the scientific autonomy of Co-operative Law with respect to other nearby and more consolidated branches such as Civil Law or Commercial Law. This debate mainly revolves around the absence or not of its own principles, the insufficiency or not of the rules that regulate it and the relevance or not of the cooperative act as the basis of this autonomy. All these elements are crossed, in a transversal way, by an identity in values, which could perhaps clear up any doubt in favour of the Science of Cooperative Law.

For our days, it is undeniable the existence of new branches of Law, such as Environmental Law and Computer Law, legal branches that also faced the questioning of jurists and scholars of other sciences, regarding the sustainability per se of their objects of study and the particularities of the legal method. For example, in Environmental Law, it is often said by some detractors that it is nothing more than an appendix to Administrative Law. It is not surprising, then, that Cooperative Law faces questions about its scientific and didactic autonomy.

The authors share the idea that a branch of the legal system is present when it has its own object, method of regulation and subjects. In terms of Cooperative Law, the object of study is the cooperative as a sui generis institution that, although its essence has been much debated, as has been explained above, is neither a company nor an association, the defenders of this scientific position being that it is a legal institution of a new type, as expressed in previous chapters.

On the other hand, Co-operative Law assumes methods of legal regulation such as the device and the imperative; methods that, although they may, in principle, come from Civil Law and Administrative Law, are not exclusive to such branches of Law and, in the seat of Co-operative Law, the mentioned methods assume a renewed vision according to the institution under study.

Finally, the subjects of Cooperative Law are, par excellence, the cooperative, which distinguishes itself, in its qualities, from those persons who compose it and who also become subjects of law, but who united among themselves, under the principles and values of a true cooperativism, mutual aid and solidarity, originate an institute with distinction from other economic agents or subjects of law.

According to the analysis carried out, it has been possible to find positions of researchers such as Cracogna (2005) who affirms that a branch of law has scientific autonomy when it is a question of a gnoseological normative set, endowed with its own principles that allow to solve the questions that are raised within a systematic set, with unity of foundation, without having to resort to the principles that refer and base other branches of law.

On his part, García Müller (2017), after a systematization of positions in favor and against recognizing the autonomy of Cooperative Law, concludes: cooperative law was formed as an autonomous and specific branch of law in the second half of the 20th century. At present, it has adopted some general principles that characterize it, it has a wide legislative body that covers almost all the countries of the world, an increasingly profuse doctrine, an important jurisprudential archive and it is in line with the incipient Public International Cooperative Law, integrated by the declarations and recommendations of the UN, the ILO and the ICA.

In accordance with the opinions expressed and the analyses carried out in the research, the authors conclude that the didactic autonomy of Co-operative Law is unquestionable. It should also be taken into account that, under the protection of the Pedagogical Sciences, the subjects constitute didactic arrangements of the sciences; for that reason, nothing prevents the study of Co-operative Law as a scientific discipline and as an academic discipline, always in close relationship with co-operative education.

It would be opportune to reflect, that it must be recognized -in order not to commit excesses derived from the love of science that is studied and defended, the Law-, that cooperative education constitutes and proposes a broader vision than the cooperative law, understanding that the first one proposes the formation of jurists, cooperative members and society in general, This includes, unquestionably, the cooperative history, values and axiology, the characteristics of the economy based on cooperatives, and the legal visions should not be lacking in order to complete a comprehensive view of the cooperative.

However, Cooperative Law, in its turn, can be an accurate instrument when, through its teaching, the formation of values and the conviction of highly significant principles are achieved in the co-operative sphere. The idea of the identity of this legal figure shows the history of cooperativism, at the same time that it teaches the legal foundations that characterize the institution under study. All this means that, if the teaching of this branch of law is opened up, outside the classrooms that are dedicated par excellence to the training of jurists, it could stimulate and enlarge the social vision that the cooperative has.

Derived from the analyses that have been carried out, it is worthwhile to consider that it is urgent, on national soil, above all in the environment of the CNAs, to promote and intend training with respect to the benefits or not of the cooperative, the characteristics of this new economic actor, the new relations that exist between the partners, who are no longer workers in a state company where the administration and its administrators converge. In this new cooperative scenario, there is now an assembly that represents them, statutes that contemplate new organizational structures and that, only if the members or cooperative members know what they mean, will they be able to operate with true autonomy.

The experience of other countries such as Puerto Rico and Costa Rica shows cooperative education as part of the curricula at the different levels of education and not only at the university level. In the Cuban case, taking into consideration the long history and tradition of cooperatives in the agricultural sector, co-operative education has been a process, which is still being studied in several studies. On the other hand, it is praiseworthy to acknowledge how, as of 2005, there was an awakening in the country's legal order, with the proposal of a new legal basis for cooperativism in Cuba, made by the Cienfuegos jurist Fernández Peiso (2005).

At present, its research postulates are clear foundations that allow the development of new generations of jurists, essentially university professors, under the protection of the flexibility of the Study Plans and the process of professionalization in the teaching of Law, subjects that, when placed in the optional curriculum of the Law degree, promote the synergy that is produced between cooperative education and cooperative law.

It is necessary to return to the principle under analysis, namely those issues related to the training of members, managers, directors and the information to be provided to society in general regarding the benefits of cooperation.

In Cuba, a highly valuable pedagogical theory has been developed, known as Advanced Education, with its maximum exponent being the eminent teacher and pedagogue Añorga Morales who defines herself as:

Alternative educational paradigm that studies and systematizes the process of improvement of human beings to provide them with better knowledge, skills, habits, feelings, attitudes, capacities, values, behavior and health, empowering them for the transformation and production of knowledge, from provoking in human beings participants of this educational paradigm, growing motivation, independence in action and thought, creative activity, collective consciousness, responsibility with the knowledge and skills acquired, aware of human growth or to transform reality, enabling the elevation of professionalism, cooperative ethical conduct and personal and social satisfaction (Añorga Morales, 2014).

Analyzing in depth the principles, postulates and pedagogical criteria that support the referred theory, would be the object of a scientific work of great magnitude as the defense of second doctorate that, in its moment, its author carried out; but what it is about, with its reference, is to visualize how it is proposed, from the Advanced Education, the improvement of human beings from stimulating their creativity, formation, providing people with abilities and independent practices through the training and overcoming of these; all this provided from the conception of the professionalization process, without lacking a cooperative ethical conduct. It is possible to ask oneself: Will it be prudent and pertinent to renew the bases of co-operative education based on the postulates proposed by Advanced Education?

The answer to this question will be of a positive order since, from the definition alluded to around the Advanced Education, it is possible to find that this educational paradigm, with seat in the materialism-dialectic and in the psycho-pedagogical historical-cultural approach, with special emphasis in the philosophical categories activity and communication, anticipates to develop a process of human improvement and continuous growth of the person from its performance and its creative activity, which is not limited only to understand like object of the well-known improvement to the professionals.

Following the line of thought of the aforementioned Cuban pedagogue Añorga Morales, Advanced Education has its origin in the Latin American world, but here, with an elitist sense, directed to human resources who are university graduates (Añorga Morales, 2012). In line with the above, she continues, [...] we propose a new concept of Advanced Education for all human resources, defined by the author as "human beings who live together in a country, including the categories of employed, workers who have graduated from any level of formal schooling and the community, who have potential for productive and/or social work, using, for this purpose, the alternatives that human creation is capable of generating. Therefore, we agree with friends and enemies that Advanced Education is bold, innovative, cutting-edge and includes the latest and permanent subsystem of knowledge, skills and values for the entire life of man, even in old age (Añorga Morales, 2012). Making the bases of cooperative education more dynamic, based on the postulates articulated and defended by Advanced Education, would involve stimulating learning as proposed by Agenda 2030 with respect to inclusive education for all, throughout life, with special emphasis, moreover, on diversity and difference, but always safeguarding cooperation among human beings. Faced with such questions, one could also reflect on the viability of cooperative education, based on this theory, especially for the formation of cooperative values and the conduct of cooperatives on the identity proposed by their legal conception.

The criteria used along these lines necessarily have the task of clarifying the question that gives the title to the work. It has been questioned whether or not co-operative education and co-operative law constitute a dialectical pair, based on the understanding that, from a materialistic dialectic, development is to be found in the contradictions, that phenomena must be governed by the law of denial of denial, under the logic that on the basis of what was yesterday, in the future it may cease to be and enter higher stages of scientific development.

Speaking of dialectical pairs implies recognizing that there are categories of science that, while being excluded, are presupposed, i.e., the categories of teaching and learning. Derived from such an analysis, it can be concluded that cooperative education, which is proposed at the beginning of the 21st century, must be approached on the basis of the objective of sustainable development, which advocates inclusive education for all, throughout life; this would help to strengthen training on home soil, which takes into account cooperative education at all levels of education, which would result in creating, developing and preserving a cooperative culture.

At the same time, cooperative education would not be complete if it did not include the teaching of Cooperative Law, and not only at the university level. Cuban pedagogy is in a position to assimilate the teaching of this branch of law from other levels of instruction, as is the case with Civic Education, as a subject that promotes the formation of citizens from all dimensions of life.

Finally, to refer to the need to identify the motivations and expectations regarding knowledge, skills and values in the field of cooperativism that Cuban cooperatives may or may not possess in order to, depending on this, complete cooperative training and education that is relevant to the Cuban reality and that allows the development of cooperativism under the principles and values that it defends, a process in which the postulates, principles and forms of Advanced Education may be very useful.



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Conflict of interest:

Authors declare not to have any conflict of interest.


Authors' contribution:

The authors have participated in the writing of the paper and the analysis of the documents.


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Copyright (c) Aliani Díaz López, Liyanis Santana Santana, Nileidys Torga Hernández