Paul Vadas – Educational Consultant, Master Degree in political science from California State University Northridge, lecturer, professor, has worked for over 25 years as executive in Brazilian and U.S. higher education institutions.
When, at the beginning of the 90’s, I had the pleasure of participating in the First Brazilian Seminar on Educational Marketing and of organizing the II and III Seminars (SEMESP promoted by Professor Gabriel Mario Rodrigues), Brazilian private higher education was incipient. At the time, Brazilian HEIs were still colleges, not universities, submissive to the mandates of the Ministry of Education – MEC, with leaders who understood that they had little autonomy over the educational/pedagogical management of their respective entities, in spite of the fact that the Federal Constitution of 1988 (CF/88) was already in force and determined, in Article 206, that “Teaching will be taught on the basis of the following principles:
II – freedom to learn, teach, research and disseminate thought, art and knowledge;
III – pluralism of ideas and pedagogical conceptions, and coexistence of public and private educational institutions …. ”
At the time, few HEIs ventured to innovate and, as a rule, followed the ideas and pedagogical conceptions to which they were accustomed. They did not realize that they were no longer “prisoners” of the old Law of Basic Educational Guidelines (LDB). They were prisoners of their own habits and paradigms – as many are still to this day.
Due to the CF/88, profound educational changes were instituted in Brazil throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Beginning with the extinction of the Federal Education Council; the creation of the National Education Council (CNE) in 1995; of the new LDB in 1996; of the National Education Plan (PNE) instituted by Bill No. 4,173, of 1998 and approved in the year 2000; of the various national curriculum guidelines (DCNs) developed in the first decade of the new millennium; of the National System of Evaluation of Higher Education; and online courses, just to mention some of the great changes that have given opportunities for discussions, seminars, lectures and other events of clarification and incentives for innovation that both SEMESP and ABMES have been promoting ever since.
In all published documents, both public and private, the objective of improving Brazilian education at all levels has been the focus. Creating and innovating have the verbs of the moment.
LDB/96, for example, in instituting the concept of “Sequential Programs” cried out for innovation at a time when no one knew what programs these were, and therefore no paradigm had yet been developed, either on the side of HEIs, or on the side of the Ministry of Education and Culture – MEC . Some institutions took the opportunity to innovate.
Among the innovations that the sequential programs provided to the Brazilian HEIs, for which I had the privilege and the honor to contribute, and that were eventually adopted in the traditional undergraduate courses, we can mention the curricular flexibilization, with elective and/or optional courses; the scheduled selective enrollment processes; the provision for credit based courses on a part-time basis; the common courses to all programs; the in-company programs; the Fridays of free studies; and modulated education, which allowed students to take advantage of studies in sequential programs and apply them as credits for undergraduate programs. Many of these innovations were eventually adopted by some HEIs in their traditional undergraduate programs, when technology courses (considered undergraduate programs), in practice, replaced the sequential programs.
While, on the one hand, both the 1990s and the first and second decades of the millennium have made it possible for HEIs to innovate, the results of the educational activities by Brazilian HEIs, and especially private HEIs, which maintain more than 70% of the Brazilian higher education students, has been shockingly dismal. There is no private Brazilian HEI among the 500 best in the world (Revista Ensino – Guia da Educação, 2018). In fact, the Brazilian ranking, including public HEIs, is shameful. The best placement belongs to the University of São Paulo – USP, ranked 150th, while Unicamp, UFMG and UFRJ (the four that follow USP) are not even among the 300 best.
In an article published on June 26, titled “Human Capital X Political Capital,” Professor Gabriel Mario Rodrigues suggested the creation of the “Only Education Can Save Brazil Institute”, based on the “collaboration and sharing of people with ideas to formulate a country with less problems and with more optimism and self-esteem … with the willingness of the people to straighten the course of our nation. The goal is to have ideas that, transformed into programs, enable a more egalitarian, developmental and sustainable Brazil. ”
On the other hand, in an article published on August 18 (one year ago) in the Business Management Magazine, entitled “Can Education Save Brazil?”, The author, Giovanna Henriques, expressed herself on the theme this way: “It is openly discussed in Brazilian society the idea that education is the only salvation for Brazil. One aspect of this idea is quite true: without a quality education, the Country has no future. But it is important to look at the fallacy contained in this perception: education alone has never saved any country. And it will not save Brazil. This is due to the simple fact that education is not an isolated action from other dimensions, such as social justice and public policies aimed at health, food, housing, security, transportation and opportunities for all … With a minimum of experience in educating, every teacher knows that a miserable student in poor living conditions has very few chances to succeed”
The fact is that it is not the formal education as it presents itself today that will save Brazil: all the members of the corrupted ruling class have college degrees. Nor is it “quality education”, depending on what we mean by the concept of “quality”. If by “educational quality” we understand cultural change, instead of only professional training, then we will be on the right path. Without a humanistic education, nothing will change in Brazilian society.
The Brazilian problem is, fundamentally, behavioral and, therefore, cultural. What Brazilian educational leaders must understand is that educational quality refers to holistic education, which addresses the inseparability of “the full development of the person, his preparation for the exercise of citizenship and his qualification for work” (Art 205, CF/88). In order for us to have a quality education, it is fundamental to approach together the development of “knowing to be”, “knowing how to relate”, and “knowing how to perform”. These are the three interrelated pillars that are part of any human activity: personal, social, professional.
Unfortunately, in Brazil, Brazilian education focuses almost exclusively on “knowing how to perform”, and does not understand, or does not value, the importance of “knowing to be” and/or “knowing to relate”. There is a lack of personal and citizenship development content in Brazilian educational curricula to really change what is currently a part of the Brazilian way of life: violence, corruption at all levels, economic paralysis, poor health, poverty, poor public services, lack of civic awareness, etc., etc. There is a need to develop truly servant leaderships for the public sectors, who have a high civic, moral, ethical and, why not say, patriotic sense.
In addition to content, the Brazilian educational problem is technological/structural/functional. The system needs to undergo a real transformation that recognizes that traditional formal education no longer holds a monopoly on information and therefore its function is changing. The traditional model is obsolete (everyone knows this and talks about it, but few do or know what to do to change what is there). There is a lack of educational visionaries who know how to create models that can really change Brazilian culture in an effective and efficient way.
Several entities are “innovating” and approaching pedagogical concepts such as “interactive learning”, “student-centered education”, “blended learning”, “design thinking”, “flipped classrooms”, and other media fashion trends adopted in education by some HEIs. But none of these approaches is the answer. At the same time that all of these approaches can be a part of the answer. Any and all of these features are worth nothing without the appropriate content. What matters is not the channel/medium by which information is transmitted. What matters is the content of the information and the results derived from it. Or, as the CNE already said:
“What matters, essentially, is not what the school teaches, but rather what the learner learns in it or out of school. What counts, effectively, is the competence developed.
Skills developed in out-of-school activities, in the world of work and in the social practice of the citizen should be constantly evaluated by the educational institution and used for the purpose of continuing education, with a view to permanent education and continuous development of the capacity to learn and of learning to learn, with an increasing degree of intellectual autonomy. The new emphasis proposed is for the result of learning and not simply for the act of teaching.” (CNE / CP 29/2002, p. 24 – Approved December 13, 2002).
In conclusion, to counter McLuhan assertion, the medium is not the message. The message is the message. The medium/form can influence the message and thus be part of it. But the foundation of what is conveyed is the message, it’s its meaning to the learners, and how it impacts their behavior.
Finally, we must dare to break the shackles of our educational paradigms that make us subservient to many unconstitutional rules implemented by MEC and end the traditional model of process-oriented teaching (POT). We must dare to envision a promising future, and, by incorporating the technologies that are there, and those that are yet to come, develop practical, effective, results-oriented-learning (ROL), disruptive educational models capable of achieving the objectives that the nation wants.
In this month of ABMES’s birthday, I accept the statements made by Professor Janquiê Diniz (blog ABMES, August 6, 2018: “Long Life to ABMES”) when he says that “Today, stabilized on a solid basis, ABMES has the necessary discernment to know that much has already been done, but there is still a lot of work to be done … always connected with the social changes and the needs of its associates, students and higher education as a whole. ”
I believe in the ideals that Professor Édson Franco (blog ABMES, August 8, 2018: “ABMES: Several Challendes”) professed when referring to Professor Candido Mendes’ assertion, that it is “forged in our Charter that ‘teaching is free to the private initiative’. The ideal of freedom, sedimented in Candido, has shown undoubted daring and will never disappear from our institutions.”
I reaffirm the hopes of Professor Celso Niskier (ABMES blog, August 10, 2018: “ABMES: Celebrates Double Coming of Age”), “May the next coming of age be celebrated with great joy, in this journey of building a reference mark for all Brazilian educators, for this is the unshakable mission of our beloved ABMES. ”
I share with Professor Gabriel’s statement (blog ABMES, August 7, 2018: “ABMES Clebrates Cedar”) that “All activities and challenges have made ABMES more mature and firm, like the hardness of cedar, but also with its aroma and purity.”
And, I conclude by wishing that, by the next 14 years, upon reaching its 50th anniversary, and therefore on its golden anniversary, ABMES could close that year with a golden key and be able to say loud and clear that, with the bold daring, advocated since the beginning by Candido Mendes, ABMES was fundamental for the Brazilian HEIs to have contributed to the salvation of the Motherland, and for reaching the highest podiums in the world’s educational ranking.