According to Priscila Cruz, for the country to have a future, it is essential to approve the National Education System
Of its 20 years of battle for education in Brazil, the paulistana Priscilla Cruzco-founder and president of NGO All for Education, draws some essential lessons. First, that education is not just “one more area” to be touched by governments: it is essential for the others to work, for jobs and growth to exist. Second, that it will only work well if it has long-term projects, which do not change with each change of government. Third, that it is necessary to approve the National Education System soon – as important as the fiscal adjustment and the tax reformwarns -, which has been stopped in Congress for a year.
With a degree in business administration from Harvard and FGV SP, Priscila recalls, in this conversation with Cenários, that the text “has already passed the Senate” but the Bolsonaro government managed to lock it in the Chamber. “It seems that education is never a priority,” she laments. Below are key excerpts from the conversation.
How do NGOs such as Todos Pela Educação, Cenpec and others work in supporting education?
Today we have a much more mature ecosystem of organizations focused on education. I have been in the third sector for more than 20 years and I have followed this evolution. To give you an idea, the country’s public sector invests something like R$300 billion per year in education. It is a strategic task for these NGOs to promote public policies and improve them. And Todos Pela Educação has a very dispersed funding system. There are more than 40 funders, and none accounts for more than 5% of our budget.
In fact, it’s even forbidden, isn’t it?
Yes, in the case of Todos Pela Educação. Nothing statutory, but we seek to spread this investment. The deliberative council acts to define long-term plans, they are always projects with cycles of three, four years to make a big change. We don’t have our tail tied up with a party, with a government, with a company. The goal is to improve the quality of education, without this we will never have a country capable of guaranteeing health, citizenship, employability, growth with income distribution.
Thinking about the long term is essential, so…
Yes, the long term is perhaps one of Todos’s main flags. There is no way to obtain a lasting result if there is not a certain obsession – that’s right, an obsession – for a project that crosses several governments, regardless of the parties that win each election. The alternation in power cannot harm this State policy. For example, we look at OECD countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, school hours are longer than seven hours a day. This story of four hours a day is very Brazilian.
How to remake all this?
The current centralization is an issue that needs to be changed. Small cities have an insufficient technical staff to conduct a public policy with the standard that Brazil needs. What we need is a national vision, which is different from a federal vision. Of course, the federative entities have their autonomy, but autonomy is not the municipality doing what it wants. We need a national policy that guides the management of states and municipalities.
How to monitor this bunch of resources, if everyone wants to do different things?
One of the missions of Todos Pela Educação is precisely this. You see, Brazil is the second country that produces the most educational data on the planet. So, it is not due to lack of transparency, evaluation, lack of school census. We have a census, an evaluation, a Prova Brasil, an Enem. It has the Ideb, Basic Education Development Index. But we have a mismatch between speech and attitude, including voting attitude, electoral attitude.
Wouldn’t this theme, the federalization of education, require a specific law?
There is a law running in Congress, which was already unanimously approved in the Senate in the last legislature, and we are working for the Chamber to approve it this semester, which is the National Education System. It is something like the SUS in the area of health.
A SUS for education?
The SNE will provide the outline you are bringing. With it we can have a national governance. We worked a lot on this project, there were many public hearings, specialists, civil society, to arrive at this formulation. But he is stopped because the Bolsonaro government braked in the Chamber. We already had a conversation with Arthur Lira, President of the House, we received from him a commitment to advance this agenda. This is as important as new economic reforms.
When did it stop?
It’s been over a year now. We know about the current imbroglio between the Chamber and the Senate, Congress and the Executive… My impression is that we have to wait a little bit. Education never seems to be a priority. But we do have to vote for the National Education System, because otherwise we will never be able to advance in the country in the most important field. I mean, there’s no economy if you don’t have education. You won’t have a job if you don’t have an education.
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