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Where is Education Going To?

Prof. Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES

“The BCCC took four years to be elaborated, approved by six MEC ministers. There were 3 versions, 27 state seminars, with 9,275 participants and public consultation with more than 12 million contributions.” (politize.com.br)

I sent last week to my friend Geraldo Cruz a recording that is rolling on the internet of a lecture by Prof. Pierluigi Piazzi (1943- 2015).

He was an excellent professor of physics at Anglo, a distinguished lecturer of extraordinary eloquence, and taught more than 100,000 students. He said that “teachers are not educators and this is the job of the father and mother because education is what is received at home and not at school.”

Asked about the need for prep-courses, he was exhaustive: “it is the complete evidence that basic education in Brazil does not work”, and then clarified that the International Student Assessment Program (Pisa) does not measure knowledge, it measures competences. “It measures if the student knows how to interpret a text, if he understands a graph, if he has logical and mathematical reasoning.” The National High School Examination (Enem) follows the same path.

About PISA, he did not say anything else. However, he scorned with regret our position in the contest among some 60 countries. And he shouted that “Brazil has one of the worst educational systems in the world.” On another occasion, he was exhaustive: “Does the Brazilian school have bad teachers? No. Does the school have unwilling teachers? No. Is the school professional? Yes it is. So what’s the problem? No doubt it is the model. The Brazilian educational paradigm is completely wrong.” Indeed, he had a very critical view of our educational reality.

Geraldo and I were gym members, “we were in the same group,” and after seeing the video he sent me, he wrote, “The problem is very serious, but I’d like to hear your opinion on this. As a layperson, I would say that the educational level in Brazil is catastrophic, with a tendency to worsen, with rare exceptions. There is no reading, reasoning, deduction and construction of a sentence with subject, verb, adverb and with proper punctuation.”

I replied that the private elementary schools, for the most part, are well-intentioned and always seek, within their budgets, to offer the best. With all the defects and correctness, the country is what it is thanks to the professionals, good or bad, formed by our schools. He said he was right, as were thousands of scholars and education professionals who speak out about the precariousness of our teaching. However, the issue is deeper because public primary and secondary schools, with a few exceptions, are pitiful, which leads to poor education for students from poor families.

The question is old. In Brazil, from the famous “Manifesto of the pioneers for New Education”, of 1932, that defended education as essentially a public function and without economic privileges of a minority and that should have the full attention of the State if we wanted to be a developed country. We are still a long way from making education a strategic action for national economic and social development. Everyone point out the problems, stay  on their discourse, but lack dedication, focus and perseverance to pursue actions that build solutions. Everyone comments, discusses and criticizes, but do nothing to solve the problem.

The current teaching model is more than 20 years old and was designed according to the wishes of the last century when the purpose of all was to obtain a university degree and get a good job. Families with more resources sent their children to graduate abroad and return with more experience to the best job opportunities.

The issue of the National Education Plan (PNE) affects everyone, but those who demand more depth are the public schools that serve low-income students. These young people need to be well trained to take up good jobs and have social access to a more equal country.

All the “MECs” I met were regulators, inspectors, evaluators and course recognizers. None thought of the future nor realized that their primary function is to foster the development of human resources for the development of the Nation. There has never been a state project to give hope for a better world for future generations. And, in order not to leave responsibility to the State alone, education to work needs a national project where everyone believes and collaborates. It is a cause to be shared.

And the mechanism for this already exists, it is Law 13.415/2017 that modifies the Basic Law for Education and establishes the National Curricular Common Base (BNCC), which attends basic, primary, and secondary education and took four years to be implemented. Democratically, it has had hundreds of thousands of contributions and, in summary, it has the following objectives:

“The creation of a National Common Curricular Base aims to guarantee students the right to learn a fundamental set of common knowledge and skills – from north to south, in public and private schools, urban and rural throughout the country. In this way, it is hoped to reduce the existing educational inequalities in Brazil, leveling and, most importantly, raising the quality of education.

The Foundation also aims to train students with skills and knowledge considered essential for the 21st century, encouraging the modernization of resources and pedagogical practices and promoting the updating of the teaching staff of educational institutions. (Source: SAE Digital)

Any good idea, any feasibility or action plan only happens if state, producers and consumers want. There is reasonableness of resources and, especially, if you have able, enthusiastic and well trained people to execute. It is a process that takes years to have results, with a myriad of difficulties and daily challenges to be solved, since nothing will happen if we do not have a professional teacher prepared for the new role that education has reserved for him: from being a protagonist to becoming a guiding and sharing of knowledge.

The world of national education today has immense challenges with the emergence of new technologies, in exponential advance, and the university needing to reinvent itself to meet the demands of a new society. There is, undeniably, a disenchantment with it. In addition, the lower income families no longer have financing, they go through many anxieties and frustrations, besides the economic crisis that the country is going through.

If there is a great challenge to be faced in the present, what about the future that leaves the whole society perplexed by the advances that assault us every moment? It is enough in the morning to watch the news that is transmitted, and nothing is more discouraging than the report about the millions of unemployed Brazilians, the commonplace of violence and total insecurity.

We have already lost the demographic bonus and we run the risk of losing the “Z” generation, to whom we should be extending red carpets as the expected salvation of a shrewd, avid, prepared youth that has been little encouraged. In this context, I believe that the higher education institutions themselves, through their representative entities, should give legitimacy to the cause of the BNCC in view of its importance in the intellectual, professional development and exercise of the citizenship of our students. This position will lead, as a consequence, to a better economic, social and sustainable development of our country.

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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