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In the Country of Hope, the Ministry of Education Ends Sequential Programs, Hurts the Law and the Constitution


Much has happened since ABMES published my article in Estudos Magazine, No. 30, in the year 2000: “Sequential Programs: A Proposal That Promises.” Since then, the dream of Senator Darcy Ribeiro has been practically destroyed, the legislation left aside and the sequential programs abandoned by total ignorance of both the public sector leaders, who are unable to give up the constant interference in the private sector educational market, and the leaders of the private HEIs who do little or nothing with observing the hierarchy of laws and the rights that the private sector has and should use to create and innovate in the education sector, supported by the Federal Constitution of 1988 and LDB/96. Even well-intentioned leaders with extensive experience in the Brazilian education sector are, in my view, guilty of ignorance/disregard of the constitutional and legal rights that protect private HEIs from the arbitrariness of the Executive Branch, represented in the educational sector by the Ministry of Education – MEC.

Unfortunately, Brazilian HEIs, paradigmaticized by valuing the diploma above all, never understood, or knew how to take advantage of the immense opportunities that the Sequential Programs of Completion of Studies, created by Resolution 1/99 in direct function of the “spirit of the law”, offered to anyone who wanted to access top-level educational programs not to obtain a degree, but to update themselves or to instruct themselves in the specific knowledge/skills that he/she personally needed. Brazilian educational leaders did not realize that the Sequential Programs of Completion of Studies could have been the doors to continuing education; to attract the non-traditional adult population to relevant courses pertinent to their personal needs/interests; to fill course vacancies; and for the individualization, customization and personalization of educational programs for higher education and for the business world.

The first indication that sequential programs would be short lived could be already detected in 2002. After intense discussions about the value of a non-bachelor degree higher education diploma, MEC, with the consent of public and private educational leaders, created in Resolution No 3 of 2002, a kind of “bachelor degree” program that, as Professor Cardim put it, “has no legal basis since it is not foreseen in the Law (“Rector’s Blog No. 297, May 29, 2017”): the Higher Education Technological Programs. These two-year bachelor degree granting programs (which were never even discussed at the time of LDB/96 design) effectively depleted the Sequential Programs of Specific Formation, the higher education degree granting programs that were not characterized as bachelor’s degree.

The second indication came when Resolution CES No. 1/2017, which replaced and abolished Resolution CES 1/99, effectively ended  with the Sequential Programs of Completion of Studies by linking them to undergraduate courses, effectively making the concept of sequential courses without any practical effect as a self contained, independent, innovative model of Brazilian education.

If Resolution CES 1/99, according to the rapporteur, was very clear in not confusing sequential programs with bachelor degree programs stating that “As a specific modality, it is distinguished from undergraduate, bachelor’s degree programs and with these should not confused. Sequential programs are not bachelor degree programs. The former are included in section I of Article 44, prior to section II which deals with undergraduate, bachelor degree programs,” Resolution CES No. 1 of May 22, 2017, on the other hand, confused everything by, with its illegal regulations, linking sequential programs to bachelor’s degree programs, making it impossible for HEIs to properly offer sequential programs, in total disagreement with the intent and the provisions of the Law. To be sure, let’s see:

1. Art.1 of Resolution 1/2017 establishes that “Sequential programs are programs of study designed by Higher Education Institutions duly accredited by MEC … offered to students regularly enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs, to graduates or to those who have already started undergraduate, bachelor degree programs, even if they have not concluded them”

IT IS NOT WHAT THE LAW SAYS: The law is very clear. Sequential programs are inserted in subsection I of Article 44 of LDB/96, while bachelor degree programs are inserted in subsection II of Article 44. Sequential programs are “open to candidates who meet the requirements established by the educational institutions,” while bachelor degree programs are open to candidates who “have been classified in the selection process.” That is, the Law does not require the compulsory selection process for access to sequential programs, while it does so in the case of access to bachelor degree programs.

2. Resolution 1/2017 continues, in paragraph 1 of Article 1: “Sequential programs shall consist of at least three courses or other curricular components”.

IT IS NOT WHAT THE CONSTITUTION OR WHAT THE LAW SAYS: Art. 206, subsection III of CF / 88 states that “Teaching will be taught on the basis of the following principles: … III – pluralism of ideas and pedagogical conceptions … ” and Article 44, item I of LDB/99 does not determine neither the number of courses or the hourly load for sequential programs. Therefore, it is not for MEC to, arbitrarily, establish number of courses or workload for the sequential programs, especially for the Sequential Programs of Completion of Studies that do not even offer diplomas, only certificates.

It is important to note that Resolution 1/99, in its Art. 6, establishing and regulating the Sequential Programs of Completion of Studies, in full agreement with CF/88 and LDB/96, established broad freedom for HEIs by stating in paragraph 1. of that article that: “The curricular proposal of the programs, the respective workload and their terms of payments shall be established by the institution that administers them.” This determination was even more daring than the one contemplated by Darcy Ribeiro, since it did not establish any minimum number of courses or workload for the student to receive a certificate and, in tune with constitutional mandates, allowed each HEI to establish its own pedagogical conceptions (CF/88, Art.206, paragraph III).

3. According to Professor Paulo Cardim (opus cit.), Resolution 1/2017 “corrects an error enshrined in paragraph 3 of Article 1. of Resolution CNE/CES No. 1/2007 … which allowed graduates of any higher education programs to attend  post graduate programs.” The “any” higher courses mentioned by Cardim included the graduates of Sequential Programs of Specific Formation. Undoubtedly, Resolution 1/2017 did not adhere to the law, for IT IS NOT WHAT THE LAW SAYS: The law is very clear. Section III of Article 44 of LDB/96 establishes that postgraduate courses are open only “to candidates who are graduates of bachelor degree programs and who meet the requirements of educational institutions”. Paragraph 3 of Article 1 of Resolution 1/07 is clearly illegal and therefore void from the very moment it had been approved.

For private HEIs, to accept Resolution 1/2017 is to abdicate an educational concept that provides the opportunity to develop flexible, individualized, personalized, customized, up-to-date educational models and programs that enable HEIs to fill course vacancies and/or reset evasion with greater agility. It is to accept norms that go totally against their interests, not only of educational quality, but also financial ones.

While Resolution 1/99 opened the door to innovation, Resolution 1/2017 is, in essence, educational backwardness, a normative aberration that wounds the Constitution, hurts the very law that created the concept of sequential programs, eliminates the flexibility of access to higher education by course, illegally requires access only through undergraduate bachelor degree programs, therefore, requiring a selective process and destroying the possibility of anyone who has completed high school to study one, two, ten, or the number of courses a student needs/wants in order to simply improve or upgrade his/her competencies.

Unfortunately, this is just one example of how MEC passes the compressor with unconstitutional, illegal, inconsistent, and contradictory norms, while the private “initiative” abdicates its rights and, passively, accepts the excesses of the ministry in the hope that one day, a more enlightened minister is appointed to save Brazilian education.

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Master of Arts in Political Science, California State University Northridge. Twenty five years experience in executive functions at Brazilian colleges and universities. Writer, lecturer. and consultant is, presently, educational editor for Brazil Monitor