Immediately after the announcement of the UNESCO Index of Educational Development, ranking Brazil 72nd among the 127 countries included in the survey, the Brazilian Minister of Education, Tarso Genro, said that the position of Brazil should not be blamed on either the present or previous Administration.
In his opinion, this classification “is the result of the history of successive Administrations that lacked a strategic, republican mentality and failed to regard education as an essential public good.”
In the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization) study, which refers to 2001 and 2002, Brazil ranks 72nd overall, 32nd in universal primary education, 67th in adult literacy, 66th in gender equality, and 87th in the percentage of students who remain in school through the 5th grade.
According to the Minister, one of the options for improving education in the country would be for developed countries to allow developing countries to discount their investments in education from their debts.
Thus, the more a developing country invested in education, the smaller its debt.
“It is useless for more developed countries to tell us to invest more on education. We know that. UNESCO knows and works with us strategically along these lines.
“It is necessary for the responsibility for this investment to be shared, since countries like ours are countries that have incurred huge government debts,” he asserted.
The object of the government’s literacy programs is not only to teach people to read and write, under the guidance of increasingly better prepared teachers, but to get them to continue studying.
This is the view expressed by Genro, in São Paulo, in July, when he signed an agreement with the Brazilian Workers’ General Central Union (CGTB) and the multinational corporation, Nestlé, as part of the Literate Brazil program.
“This will allow us to integrate literacy instruction, in search of opportunities for students to enter grade school and not remain stuck in literacy instruction alone, which is only the first step,” Genro affirmed.
The Ministry of Education and the CGTB are currently serving 34 thousand children through the program.
In Brazil as a whole, the Literate Brazil program has already reached over 3.1 million people.
“By extending the period of literacy instruction from six years to eight – and the agreements that are being signed already provide for this increase – we intend to multiply the number of literates, since there is always attrition in the groups, and teachers who are better prepared,” he informed.
The Minister also emphasized the importance of the partnership between the government, private enterprise, and the central union in literacy programs.
“The task of literacy instruction is a civic task and cannot admit class barriers, because it seeks to consolidate a minimum level of technical capacity for people to learn and become part of a national project.
“Literacy instruction is the first step and should, therefore, involve entrepreneurs, workers, and civil society in general. It is the first step to building national unity on behalf of a new idea – of a Brazil with fewer social disparities, progressive, democratic, and with high rates of economic growth – and this can only be accomplished through a process of social and educational inclusion,” he declared.
Translator: David Silberstein
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