After tiring of the Brazilian social problems, I woke up to the fact that the
solution is a revolution in education. In O Globo I published two articles
called “I Got Tired” and “I Woke Up.” Now, I imagined that all Brazilian
children between the ages of four and eighteen were attending school. Not merely
enrolled but actually attending classes and learning until completing high
I imagined that the schoolday would begin at a set time, and that all the children would hear the National Anthem together. Each class would last until the designated time. I imagined all the children in beautiful uniforms without differences due to income, luxury or poverty.
I imagined that no child would leave school right after snacktime, and that after lunch the students would still have complementary school activities: they would swim, paint, play games, hear music, learn languages, read; they would do community work, attend films, conduct scientific experiments, participate in theater and dance; they would learn to play musical instruments.
I imagined that all students would reach the end of the school year and, with no need for automatic promotion, pass all their exams because they had learned. That every young person would finish high school with the rare exception of those with health problems. And that high school would last four years and also guarantee that students would learn a career, to be taught in the school itself.
All would learn to be dazzled by the beauty of the world and to be indignant about its injustices. All would learn the logic of things, learning to want to make a better, more beautiful planet and to survive with dignity in the present-day world of knowledge.
I imagined that all the teachers would be very well paid, would be dedicated and well prepared. That no teacher would need to halt classes to ask for a salary increase. That the National Career Plan would break up the shameful inequality in the teachers’ qualifications and pay, which are now dependent upon the municipality and the state in which they live.
And that all of our teachers would have access to the most modern pedagogical equipment and know how to use it. I even imagined that, when a child was born, his or her parents would hope their child would take up the teaching profession.
I imagined the end of our country’s inequality in education and that the school of the poor would be equal to that of the rich; and that of the slums, equal to that of the condominiums. All with maximum quality.
I imagined Brazil’s schools equal to the best in the world. Young people taking the college entrance exam under equal conditions, independently of their family’s income and of the city in which they live.
And the university thus receiving the best of the best among all Brazilians with maximum preparation, and not merely the best among the few who finish high school with minimum qualifications. I imagined that the best of these new students would choose the National Career of the Teaching Profession.
I imagined the dynamics and the strength of that new university, the research that it would develop, the professionals that it would prepare. I even imagined the Nobel Prizes that Brazil would receive.
I imagined the state of unemployment, violence, corruption, inequality, poverty, efficiency, self-esteem, participation, citizenship, the economy, healthcare, science and technology, and the environment when all Brazilians would have the highest-quality education. I saw that I had imagined a Brazil completely different from the fearful current reality because the present schools are the future face of Brazil.
What I imagined next was the most difficult: that everyone would believe all this possible and necessary. I thought that, if we all imagine together, the road would open to transforming the imagined into reality. That if the different political parties in successive governments would unite to do that which I imagined, the imagined would happen.
It was then that I read in the newspaper that this had happened! The president and the governors of different political parties had united and made a pact around a project that will take seven years, nearly enough time for a complete generation to finish their basic education.
But it was a project to host the 2014 World Cup.
Cristovam Buarque has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PDT senator for the Federal District and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04). He is the current president of the Senate Education Commission. Last year he was a presidential candidate. You can visit his homepage – www.cristovam.com.br – and write to him at email@example.com
Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome – LinJerome@cs.com.