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Leôncio de Carvalho – the true patron of Brazilian private education

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Prof. Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES (Brazilian Association of Owners of Private Higher Education Institutions)

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“In the 1870s, the Brazilian intellectual elite was attentive to the educational progress that circulated throughout Europe and the United States. From the global point of view, everything leads one to believe that this was a period marked by the internationalization of modern education “- Rosa Fátima de Souza (Brazilian Journal of History of Education, v. 13, n. 33, 2013)

2018 in the Chinese horoscope is the Year of the Dog. Despite the popular saying that attributes to the animal all the ills, none of this will be ahead. According to Asian prediction, there will be more tolerance, more empathy and everything will happen to make the year full of satisfactions. Strengths of this new year will be loyalty, honesty and fidelity. Wise and millennial predictions that we will need so much for a spectacular 2018 for all of us and for Brazil.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to find out how many messages the Terrestrians exchanged over the Internet this Christmas and New Year. I did not find anything on the subject, but it must have passed tens of trillion and with more than hundreds of thousands of hours of interconnections.

When I was already getting disappointed with Google – the oracle of the new times, which allows nothing to happen without being registered, and chooses with very high rate of accuracy what it thinks is more suitable for us – I received a WhatsApp from the Pizzeria Google, which acquired the Pizzeria do Gordo and which surprises all their customers by knowing their consumption habits and their personal life, even before they place their orders:

– Hello! Where are you speaking from?

– Google’s pizza.

“But this phone was not from Gordo’s Pizza?”

Yes, sir, but Google bought it.

– OK. Write down my request.

“Will you want the usual?”

– The usual? You know me?

“According to our caller ID worksheet, in the last 12 times, you’ve ordered half a dozen cheeses, half a Calabrian, a thick crust.”

– OK! That’s it …

“Can I suggest to you this time half a ricotta, a half arugula with a dry tomato?

– What? I hate vegetables.

“Your cholesterol is not good, sir.”

– How do you know?

– We crossed the number of your land line with your name, through the subscribers guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last seven years. In addition, according to data from the insurer, you have consulted a cardiologist.

– Ok, but I do not want this pizza! I already take medication …

“Excuse me, but you have not taken medication regularly. From our commercial database, four months ago you purchased a box containing 30 discounted cholesterol tablets at Drogasil Network, where you are registered. Parceled in three times without interest, according to information of the administrator of its Visa final card number … 5692.

“I may have bought it by check or cash, you clever one …”

“Only if it was with undeclared dollars.” You have only issued two checks in the last three months, according to your bank details. Your cash withdrawals are usually $ 750 and occur shortly before the 10th, possibly to pay your maid who receives this salary since May.

“Even the maid’s salary … How do you know?”

– From the Social Security amount that you collect monthly through the online bank.

– Screw you, you idiot!

“I’m sorry, sir, we use such information only with the intention of helping you.

– Enough! I’m sick of Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, tablets, lack of privacy. I’m going to the Fuji Islands or to another place without internet, cable TV, where cell phones does not work and nobody can watch me.

“I see, sir … Just one last little thing …”

“What is it now?”

– Your passport is expired.

On the other hand, transcribing the past, Google shows us a minister of the Empire whom we have heard very little about. who opened the doors to private education in Brazil and managed to project for this century the expressive numbers that the sector has reached.

Evidently, the history of private higher education is entangled with economic, political and social history in Brazil. It was formed in the vacuum of executive and legislative acts; in the heat of the antagonisms of the pedagogical and philosophical currents; in the effervescence of the cultures of the time, that cross documents, speeches and mythologies; in the pioneering of private HEIs; in the relations of the State with the Church and also with non-Catholic missions.

In most Latin American countries, the private sector was born with Catholic schools and universities. But the Catholic teaching institutions that established themselves in the Americas were not strictly private. They were, in fact, as public as they were private, since they depended on the state throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century, where the private sector is predominantly secular and structured as a modern, efficient and, in some cases, globalized institutions.

Here is our character: in 1879, that is, ten years before the Proclamation of the Republic, the minister and adviser Carlos Leôncio de Carvalho made the last and most profound educational reform of the Brazilian Empire. He was the innovator of the most audacious and radical teaching of that period. Carlos Leôncio was the one who, for the first time, declared support for the opening of education to private initiative, by Decree nº 7.247, of 04/19/1879.

Until 1891 there were no private HEIs in Brazil, nor were the few public institutions totally free. Curious as few people know, but Leôncio de Carvalho, an extraordinary personality, little known, understood that much should be done to impress an impulse to education in Brazil. Among the necessary measures he proposed was the freedom of teaching, that is, giving all educators opportunities to present their ideas according to the method that seemed most appropriate to them.

In spite of the explicit affirmations in favor of the private initiative, the consequences of the Reformation, Leôncio de Carvalho seduced the pedagogues more than the liberal political groups. Also, because the conservatives, the other end of the partisan duel at the time, were also adherents to the idea of ​​opening higher education to the private initiative. The problem was therefore not political, but of a practical nature. Who would qualify to open private higher education in a country with a monarchical regime in decline and with so few numbers of secondary level students?

By 1891, Sao Paulo, the state which would soon lead the process of industrialization of the country, already showed a great desire to provide autonomy for private initiatives in higher education.

Testimonies here and there publicly assumed opinions such as “it is no longer the time to expect everything from government,” or “the people must be convinced that their happiness depends on instruction,” or “instruction will only be profitable, democratic, touching all, when it is generously maintained by the people themselves. ”

Until the Proclamation of the Republic (1889), there were only 14 upper-level schools in Brazil, all public. The Mackenzie School of Engineering in 1896 was the first private institution to function. In 20 years, however, 56 new institutions of higher education were created, mostly private. Altogether there were 70 IES (isolated colleges) in 1918, which worked independently.

At the turn of the 20th century, Brazil was the only country in Latin America not having a university, an integrating requirement in any national higher education project. More than a hundred years after the creation of these and many other HEIs in Brazil, the private sector has reached an expressive degree of complexity, vitality and social importance.

Between 1980 and 2001, 4.1 million students graduated from private HEIs, twice the number of public HEI graduates. For the following years the numbers were exponential. Graduating in graduate studies, dynamically, the Brazilian private higher education sector has evolved with surprising speed.

The numbers today, everyone knows: 7 million students in private education.

As can be seen, Carlos Leôncio de Carvalho, Minister of the Empire, well deserved the post of Patron of Private Higher Education in the country. That’s what we propose.



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Master of Arts in Political Science, California State University Northridge. Twenty five years experience in executive functions at Brazilian colleges and universities. Writer, lecturer. and consultant is, presently, educational editor for Brazil Monitor