The future has the face of its school of the present; Brazil, therefore, has failed the entrance test for the future. Out of a possible 10 points, the Elementary/Secondary Education Development Index (IDEB) average was 3.9 for the final years of our Elementary Education in the public schools, where the greater part of our students study.
The private schools passed, but only with the tolerable grade of 6. The mean weighted by the number of students is 4.1, involving 1.8 million students in the private schools with the average of 6.0, and 12.4 million students in the public ones with an average of 3.9.
In Secondary Education the weighted mean, including private schools, is 3.7.
Beyond the general failure, the IDEB shows that the inequality between the education of the children of the poor and the children of the middle and upper classes divides Brazil.
In the same week, the "Jornal Nacional" of Rede Globo showed the situation of our schools, conveying the sensation that we were watching the news of an earthquake that is about to destroy our future.
Another program, "CQC" of Rede Band, showed schools in a city in Piauí State, certainly worse than the worst of the world. It was possible to see the future. And it did not appear rosy.
Despite this, the Ministry of Education (MEC) celebrated the results and even divulged the grade to the press on August 14 saying, "Brazil has motives for celebration."
The Minister has been in office for only eight months and is not to blame for this performance, but he should recognize the tragedy, the shame, and he should convince the President of the Republic to make the same effort for education that she has been making for the economy.
The President needs to understand the gravity of the lack of educational infrastructure, which is even greater than was the lack of fiscal infrastructure, and convoke the entire country to dedicate itself to an urgent Revolution in Elementary/Secondary Education.
While Brazil is setting a goal for the IDEB to reach the grade of 6.0 in 2021, China is programming a manned flight to the moon before 2020.
A more careful analysis shows that, on the average, the federal public schools came out better than the private schools. Two private schools obtained the best grade: Santa Rita de Cássia School and Carmélia Dramis Malaguti School shared the first place with a grade of 8.6.
Next comes a federal public school: the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) Colégio de Aplicação had the grade of 8.1. The average of the federal public elementary schools (6.3), moreover, was superior to that of the private schools (6.0).
This shows that the road to the needed educational revolution in Brazil runs through increasing the federal presence in Elementary/Secondary Education. The Federalization demands a Ministry to take care of only Elementary/Secondary Education; the establishment of a Federal Teachers Career; and the responsibility of the federal government for the quality of each school, all with full-day sessions. This can be done by city by city, spreading throughout all Brazil in the period of 20 years.
This can be done. If only because the future has the face of the school of the present. And the face of our schools shows a failed future.
Cristovam Buarque (CBUARQUE@senado.gov.br) is a professor at the University of Brasília and a senator (PDT-DF).
Translated by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).