Ministers from 30 countries are meeting in BrasÀlia this week at a conference on education. The IV High Level Meeting on Education For All will discuss a report on education worldwide by Unesco, as well as the Millennium Goals for education.
According to Brazil’s Minister of Education, Tarso Genro, “Brazil took on a large commitment the moment president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva placed education at the center of his priorities”.
The Unesco report expresses concern with the level of investments in basic education and its quality, explained the minister.
Pointing out that the country has made progress in some Millennium Goals in education, Genro admitted that the report says Brazil still has many challenges to overcome.
Minister Genro also announced that the Brazilian government is creating a new fund for basic education (Fundo de Manutenção e Desenvolvimento da Educação Básica) (Fundeb) and has earmarked more funding so as to reduce regional disparities in education.
“Our budget for the education area is bigger in 2005 than it was this year,” he concluded.
One year ago, then Minister of Education, Cristovam Buarque, who is now a senator, said that teachers receive little recognition in Brazil, despite the fact that they are the ones who produce artists, athletes, and scientists.
For the Minister, the teacher is the craftsman, the laborer, and the builder of the future, but the population forgets this.
“A teacher’s job is not like just any other one. This may seem to be arrogant, coming from someone who chose a teaching career, as I did. But, when we meet former students and see what they have become, we realize the job we did,” the Minister declared.
Buarque had proposed the creation of a floor and a salary increase for teachers, through the Fundeb and the implantation of the federal certificate.
“But all of this takes time,” he recognized, “because it involves resources, and we have a democratic regime, Congressional approval is required, and we shall still have to negotiate with the municipalities and states.”
In 1995, Brazil created the Incentive to Fundamental Education Award to valorize and recognize the work of public school teachers, from grades 1-4 of fundamental education, who develop, in the classroom, relevant teaching methods that contribute to the quality of instruction.
For the past ten years, on Teacher’s Day (October 15), 20 educators from around the country are awarded prizes. In addition to having their accomplishments recognized by the Ministry of Education, each one receives a check worth five thousand reais, a trophy, and a certificate.