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CIVICS AND CIVILITY IN BRAZIL – Education for the development of new political leadership in Brazil

Paul Vadas - Master Degree in Political Science, California State University, Northridge. Twenty years of experience in executive functions at Brazilian Higher Education Institutions, including: Director of the Executive Education Program at Universidade Anhembi Morumbi, Sao Paulo; Pro-Rector of Professional Education at Universidade Potiguar, Natal; and President of UNEB College, Brasilia. Lives in Temecula / California

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There is nothing more dangerous for a democracy than the ignorance of its people”.

The 21st Century had barely started when, in 2001, New York was attacked in what was to become just one of thousands of events that have shown us that the world is in crisis. Less than seven years later, the Great Recession, a greed generated economic collapse, almost destroyed the economies of the developed countries. By the middle of the second decade of this century, political crisis has become a way of life in many countries, developed, developing, and under-developed, including Brazil. Why?

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues, President of the Advisory Board of the Brazilian Association of the Brazilian Private Higher Education Institutions (ABMES), in an article entitled “Education for conscientious voting” proposes that Brazilian corruption, which has been endemic in the political and social life of the country for generations, from the colonial period to our days, not just with politicians but, also, as a way of life for most of the civilian population, is the culprit. His solution: to educate all the educational stake holders (students, teachers, families) on how we should develop citizens imbued with the best ethical and moral principles so that they can know how to vote, “and that demands civics education” (April 18, 2017).

Although civics education is very important for the development of a conscious electorate, if we really want to end the political corruption that permeates the Brazilian social and political systems, it is not going to be enough. As Sheila Suess Kennedy (“Civility, Civic Literacy and Public Service”), puts it in the case of the U.S.: “We need to attract the best and the brightest of our young people to public service”. Actor Richard Dreyfuss puts it even more emphatically when, talking about the American political crisis due to complete Congressional deadlock, he says: “… political discussion is a long-term problem that must be addressed as early as grade school… (We) need a national curriculum to train young people how to someday run the government…. (T)he lack of classes on civility and civics is ‘vividly weakening us and turning our family into hate-fulled (sic) people’”

(CNN, January 26, 2011).

On April 04, 2017, less than a month ago, MEC, the Brazilian Ministry of Education, issued its third publication of the new Common National Curricular Base (Base Nacional Comum Curricular) – the Brazilian version of Common Core. Since it only encompasses elementary and middle school curricula, this is not the final publication. Before the end of the year, the government should make public the complete publication, including high school standards.

In my next articles, I will address the theme of civics and civility and how the Brazilian educational system, as expressed by the Common National Curricular Base, is approaching this most important of issues, as it prepares future generations of Brazilians in the quest to end once and for all the corruption practices that have become a mainstay of the Brazilian society’s culture.