New Secondary School brings disastrous model for Brazilian education – 04/10/2023

I was a teacher for twenty years in public and private networks. During that time, I went through several programs, projects, plans and attempts to “qualify” teaching in Brazil. In addition, as a student, I also followed a series of changes, the implementation of new curricula, interruptions, destruction, reconstruction and resumption. The fact is that the years have passed, and Brazilian education continues to be a large draft of an intermittent and adrift project.

I learned that when it comes to education, there is no simple solution. Much less in the short term. We cannot forget that we are a country of continental dimensions. Therefore, finding a single school or curriculum model for everyone is an almost impossible mission. The realities are very different. And secondary education reform appears to widen this gap in inequality.

I am always suspicious of magical and quick solutions for education. There is a complexity that goes beyond simply increasing the workload or letting the student decide what he wants to study.

The reform proposal foresees that the 2,400 hours will increase to 3,000 hours, divided into 60% for regular subjects, such as Mathematics and Portuguese, and 40% for the so-called training itineraries, that is, optional subjects in which the student chooses according to his interest. As a project in the plan, it is a very attractive model, but let’s see the obstacles:

Disciplines such as philosophy and sociology, for example, were excluded to make way for training itineraries. This is quite worrying, as a school that does not have basic subjects such as these in its curriculum runs the serious risk of trivializing its commitment to ethics and social responsibility. So, how to train students with critical thinking and who can learn to have an ethical posture and avoid, who knows, tragedies like those of the last attacks on schools and kindergartens? In addition, these itineraries tend to bring education closer to the world of work, which, in a way, makes education precarious, whose main objective is, above all, to form good citizens.

Let us remember that the New Secondary School was approved with a stroke of the pen in Michel Temer’s government, without discussion, without debate and without the sensitivity to understand that there is no basic structure to meet the demands of this new education plan. Which, on the other hand, ends up causing great anguish in the professionals of the school community, who are pressured to put into practice something that nobody knows very well how to do.

In addition, the pandemic and the blackout in education during the Bolsonaro government made the implementation of the new education in Brazil even more unfeasible. In this sense, I think that the total repeal of the reform could harm students even more, but, as it is, it also causes enormous damage to teaching.

The suspension of implementation of the New Secondary School schedule, imposed by the Lula government, may have been the best thing to do now. Stopping the process for some time can be important. Because it is necessary to discuss, talk and debate with specialists, educators and the school community. 60 days is little, very little, but it’s a start.

The truth is that the old high school model was not working, we know that. However, more than promoting a reform, it is necessary, first of all, to invest in valuing the educator, because what kind of classes will a public school teacher who faces a 3-shift day, in different schools, give? What kind of classes are possible in schools that don’t have a working bathroom or that don’t have a basic laboratory for science subjects?

Secondary education reform will not solve the precariousness of education. However, I understand that withdrawing the project could cause further confusion and delay. It is therefore necessary to understand that, without a massive investment in education, we will not have positive results anytime soon.

The New Secondary School has good intentions, but under these conditions it is an unviable and disastrous model. And let’s not forget that, with good intentions, hell…

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