A worker, bodeguero, writes on a ration booklet in Havana. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

Havana - Cuba railed Friday against public school teachers who tutor students privately, a practice which the government said conflicts with their public duties.

Havana has encouraged Cuban workers to transition gradually into the private sector, as the communist island grapples with continuing economic hardships.

But the government drew the line at teachers who currently already earn a paycheck from state-run schools, saying in an article in the daily Granma state-run newspaper that it is wrong to teach “for financial” gain.

The article reminded teachers that taking private pupils on the side is against the law in Cuba.

In 2010 President Raul Castro expanded the list of government-approved self-employment occupations as part of a very gradual reform of its Soviet-style economy.

Castro announced that over the following years he would also be slashing the country's five-million strong bureaucracy Ä this on an island with a population of about 11 million Ä as a cost-cutting measure.

Today more than 436,000 Cubans work for themselves or in small businesses. Authorized job categories include restaurant owners, barbers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics and other skilled trades.

The newspaper said that on average, teachers are charging private students between $2 and $10 per class for private lessons, a sum which is beyond the reach of many families in Cuba where the average monthly salary is about $20.

Sapa-AFP