Nothing exemplifies the Brazilian potential better than the aviation industry,
the production and exports of airplanes. Embraer, an example of success of
the nation's economy, is proof that our potential rests in investing in education.
It symbolizes a modern
Brazil, one which is successful in international biddings in the most sophisticated
field of industrial production. Above all, Embraer is the product of investment
in education, science, and technology, and not in the economy.
Embraer grew from investments
of successive government administrations in the Aeronautics Technological
Institute (ITA) and the Aeronautics Technology Center (CTA).
Way before investing in
the production plant itself, Brazil began preparing the engineers and technicians
that the industry would require. Embraer would be a mere assembly line without
an aviation engineering school and an aviation technology research center.
But the company also would
not exist had other five conditions not been fulfilled.
First, if project ITA
and CTA suffered any interruption during the changing of guards at the government
level. It took decades of careful consolidation, carried forward by the nation's
aviation industry, with the backing from one government administration after
another, an unwritten pact among all parties in power since the 1950s.
Second, research and education
probably wouldn't have turned into industrial achievements had they been modeled
after what takes place on most of the country's university training and research
grounds: a frightened and biased attitude towards the industrial production
process. Thanks to the aviation industry's pragmatic foresight, the development
in engineering opened the door to technology.
Third, this same technology,
despite its practicality, would have been forgotten on drawing boards and
academic publications, or made available to foreign companies, had the government
not created Embraer.
The private sector wouldn't
have had means or interest, financial resources or entrepreneurial motivation,
to transform research and education into an aviation industry. The power and
resources ofagainsuccessive government administrations were essential
for Embraer to thrive in Brazil.
Fourth, the state company
Embraer would have remained a local business had it not been privatized. It's
a logic matter, not a paradoxEmbraer wouldn't have existed had it not
been a state company, and it wouldn't have reached such heights had it remained
Privatization became crucial
to provide the necessary dynamics for efficiency in production, to seek partnerships,
and compete in the bidding world.
Fifth, even as a private
entity, Embraer would not have attained its current position in the world
market had the Brazilian government, via BNDES (National Bank for Development),
not maintained the course of support, just as European, Canadian, Russian,
and American companies receive help from their governments, by way of access
to financing at subsidized interest rates or incentives for equipment acquisition.
These five prerequisites
are an example for Brazil to overcome several misconceptions: that education
is a social expense, and not an investment in the future of the nation, including
the economy; that the country's universities should fear partnering with the
industrial sector; that state companies are a backward move to be avoided;
and that privatizations mean giving away the nation's assets.
Embraer is an industrial
example, but it can represent more than that: it can be a conceptual model
of a new project for Brazil, without mistaken beliefs and with principlesmost
importantly, prioritizing education, valuing what is Brazilian, and the combined
role of State and private sector.
But, ultimately, government
administrations need to get rid of the habit of destroying what their predecessors
started, changing names and ideas of projects every time power changes hands.
They need to learn that
only through decades of continuity, in the hands of different administrations,
can successful projectsthat will make the nation proudbe carried
Cristovam Buarque - email@example.com
- has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT Senator for the Federal District
and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education
from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is
a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of
experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and
political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, Florida. His email: