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Graduates of Middle Schools: Loss of Students or New Gains?

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Ronaldo Mota – Member of the Collegiate of the Presidency of ABMES, Chancellor of the Estácio Group

The number of High School graduates in 2017, around 1 million and 780 thousand, was 2.6% lower than that of 1 million and 830 thousand approximately in 2016. Although these are frightening figures in and of themselves, it is not so simple to indicate that they, in isolation, imply an inevitable retraction of those interested in Higher Education in the coming years. Of course the desirable thing would be to have a continuous and substantive growth of young people graduating at that level. However, there are other phenomena occurring simultaneously and that must be taken into account.

On August 5, the National Exam for the Certification of Skills for Young People and Adults (ENCCEJA) was applied, when 1 million and 340 thousand registered, 7.6% higher than in the previous year, aiming at obtaining a High school diploma. Part of them declared the expectation of later enrolling in Higher Education. Thus, it is possible to observe that the decrease of students in  normal High School is compensated by the increase, more than double from one year to another, of potential interest coming from a different source.

Two preliminary observations on ENCCEJA. First, the exam consists basically of five parts: mathematics; science of nature and its technologies; languages ​​and codes; essay; and humanities and their technologies. Secondly, the National High School Examination (ENEM) until 2016 made it possible to receive a high school diploma, and more than 1 million applicants to the ENEM had this objective as an essential requirement for entry to the higher level.

Thus, part of the above dynamic of interests and options seems to be associated with the relative and growing disinterest of young people to enroll in regular High School in the form that it is today. In the past, ENCCEJA applicants and their predecessor examinations were basically mature people who had missed the opportunity to study at the appropriate age. At the same time, there is a growing number of young people who prefer to wait until they are 18 years old to test their knowledge and, if approved, to obtain their certificates.

It is interesting to note that, for the first time, the percentage of candidates for high school diplomas who are able to access the content of the examination through other forms other than the traditional school is significant and growing. Currently, there are several new initiatives and a number of attractive quality educational portals are available, some of them free and others accessible at low costs. Such paths are becoming increasingly interesting to those who express compatibility with methodologies and technologies that allow the learner to learn all the time and anywhere.

It should not surprise anyone who accompanies the educational processes in Brazil that in a few years, the number of enrollments in Higher Education in the online modality will exceed the corresponding number in the classroom. Likewise, and more emphatically, for children and young people, as long as they have the option of exploring new educational approaches, as long as they demonstrate more compatibility with the ways in which they live, work and relate to friends and family, part of them will do so.

There are complex phenomena with multiple variables at play. Therefore, in the attempt to simplify them, we run the risk of generating misinterpretations or overly partial interpretations.

However, it seems clear that, in general, the trend points to relatively greater educational success through the progressive adoption of hybrid and flexible methodologies. That is, from the appropriate incorporation of digital technologies, it is possible to provide a personalized, more attractive and efficient teaching. In this way, we have the opportunity to fulfill the objectives of a quality education for many, allowing everyone to study, and take into consideration the indispensable customization that takes into account the fact that each student learns in a personal and unique way.



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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