Brazil: We Saw the Future. It Wasn’t Good.

      Brazil: We Saw the Future. It Wasn't Good.

    The Day of the Teacher, the day of the future, must be a day of
    commemoration: a sort of
    national holiday commemorating the
    anticipation of our true Days of Independence, Abolition and
    Republic, which have not yet occurred. Teacher valorization and
    preparation, is vital to the
    education system that Brazil needs.


    Cristovam Buarque


    The future of each country can be seen by taking a clear look at its schools in the present. For many years, we
    thought that the future meant factories, highways, hydroelectric plants. And we constructed all these. But when the future arrived
    in Brazil, it did not seem as good as the one we had desired.

    In some cases, it might be said that it was even worse. Because we forgot that the school is the highway to the future.
    And what is the school? Above all, it is the teacher, that artisan who constructs the future. The Day of the Teacher, therefore,
    should also be considered as the Day of the Future.

    In the 21st century, the school must have access to all the technological means of modernity, but it is the teacher who
    continues making it a school of quality. Therefore, a country that desires the arrival of the future must heed the trinity of the
    teaching profession: the teacher’s head, heart, and pocketbook. The future of Brazil will be a good one only if all its teachers are
    well prepared through a good education.

    But good preparation is not enough if they are not well motivated and dedicated to their profession and to their
    students. And it is impossible to imagine a well-prepared, motivated teacher who is not also well paid. At the same time, there is
    no justification in paying a teacher well if he or she is not well prepared and dedicated. It is a trinity: preparation,
    motivation, remuneration.

    To change our history, this trinity must be given the serious treatment and respect it deserves. The Day of the
    Teacher, the day of the future, must be a day of commemoration: a sort of national holiday commemorating the anticipation of
    our true Days of Independence, Abolition and the Republic, which have not yet occurred.

    What the Brazilian school has accomplished up to this point is the result of the efforts of its teachers, who have
    heroically fulfilled their responsibilities. But they can only construct the future of the entire country if we undergo a revolution in
    the way that Brazil treats them. A revolution based upon four pillars.

    First, we must install a National System of Education that permits the creation of a national identity for the Brazilian
    people and puts an end to the absurdity of Brazilian education as an element of disaggregation, worsening the inequalities of
    the past.

    The National System of Education will be a means of building the base that assures the conditions for a good
    education to each teacher, each school and, therefore, each child, the good education that will construct the future of the nation,
    independently of the child’s city of birth and of the will of the mayor or of the governor.

    Second, as foreseen in the program under which our government was elected, we must approve Fundeb (the National
    Fund for the Development of Basic Education), thus expanding the present Fundef (Fund for the Maintenance and
    Development of Elementary Teaching and for the Valorization of the Teaching Profession), which is dedicated only to
    elementary-school education and now involves only a small transfer of federal funds to the states and municipalities.

    Fundeb will increase the number of states and municipalities that benefit from federal funds and will incorporate
    early-childhood and high-school education, as well as continuing the support of elementary education.

    Third, based upon the National System of Education and Fundeb, we must set a salary floor for all Brazilian
    teachers, thus demonstrating the value the country places upon those who are constructing our future, and we must move towards,
    at the minimum, a doubling of the average teacher salary over the course of the coming years.

    Fourth, we must link all this to teacher preparation and dedication, by means of the National Program of Continuing
    Education and of Federal Certification, which will propitiate an increase in remuneration, linked to teacher preparation. The
    system of certification, going hand in hand nationally with teacher valorization and preparation, is the road to the education
    system that Brazil needs.

    When Brazil adopts these four pillars, all other school needs will be easily met.

    At the speed possible within the limits of resources and at a rhythm suitable to democracy and the characteristics of
    the Brazilian federation, these four pillars have been under construction since the beginning of the Lula government. Much
    work still needs to be done to make them a reality and to ensure that their effects will be lasting. But this is the road to take.

    None of this can be done merely by the states, municipalities, or the federal government. It must be done by all
    Brazil, all of us, together, building the future by means of our teachers’ hands. A future that will be a good one on the day that
    parents of a newborn baby will say proudly, "When our child is grown, he or she will be a teacher." On that day, thanks to
    today’s teachers, the future will have arrived.


    Cristovam Buarque — — is a university professor, a senator representing the
    Federal District, and the Brazilian Minister of Education.

    Translated by Linda Jerome —

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