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In the Country of Hope, Suggestions on How to Stop Hoping and Start Doing


Paul Vadas – Educational Consultant, Master Degree in political science from California State University Northridge, lecturer, professor, has worked for over 25 years as executive in Brazilian and U.S. higher education institutions.

The destruction of sequential programs is just one example of how institutionalized behaviors, attitudes, and expectations are detrimental to the modernization of Brazilian education. Certainly, several other examples of unconstitutionalities, illegalities, and inconsistencies of executive power could be analyzed, exposing what Anthony Downs wrote in his book “Inside Bureaucracy” (1964): “My theory is based on the fundamental hypothesis that bureaucratic officials, like other agents of society, are motivated by self-interests … The older, the more bureaucratic body develops rules and regulations. The objectives of the leaders are to maintain and expand the organization and no longer to achieve the original purpose of the bureau … The older and bigger the bureau becomes, the more it is driven by inertia … caused by established rules, habits, procedures, and internal interpersonal relationships … large organizations rationally tend to reject new ways and innovations … ”

Downs theories apply to any kind of bureaucracy of large corporations: public or private.

Implanted by the paradigms of an obsolete traditional education, incapable or negligent in confronting the MECquiavelic regulations, the leaders of private Brazilian HEIs, in general, lack an educational vision. I am tired of reading articles by Brazilian educational leaders who do not understand the power that CF/88, as well as LDB/96 grants them, and live “crying”, blaming the MEC for their problems. These same leaders, forever hopeful, live waiting for MEC to solve the Brazilian educational problems. However, if MEC can not even manage the federal HEIs under its jurisdiction and responsibility, which are  poorly ranked in the world ranking by international evaluation institutions, how can this inefficient,  bureaucratized ministry of education define regulations that are meant to ensure the quality of private HEIs? (see the latest ranking published by Times Magazine: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2019/world-ranking#!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats)

The leaders of private HEIs, those who minimally believe in the concept of “private initiative”, must take over their constitutional and legal rights, stop hoping and waiting, assume their responsibilities to the Brazilian community, and lead in making the necessary changes to, finally, insert Brazil in the list of nations with quality education. Beginning with the appropriation of Art. 206 of CF/88, and its paragraphs: “II – freedom to learn, to teach, to research and to disseminate thought, art and knowledge; and III – pluralism of ideas and pedagogical conceptions and coexistence of public and private educational institutions “. Note that sections II and III complement each other: the freedom to teach and disseminate thought and knowledge is supported by pluralism of ideas and pedagogical conceptions (methods). In other words, it is up to the higher education institutions (HEI) to determine how to exercise its constitutional freedoms of teaching, researching, and spreading thought and knowledge.

The meaning of Art. 206 of CF/88, reiterated by Art 3º. of LDB/96, can not be underestimated. The article, in my opinion, even calls into question some determinations of the LDB/96 that I deem unconstitutional, such as Art. 80, regarding the use of the concept of “distance education”, a concept I have already explained in another work where I explained the absurdity of the idea of “distance education”, since every teaching (even face-to-face) is at some distance between the interlocutors and all learning is presential, since the learner is always present at the place he/she is learning). Clearly, Art. 80 of LDB/96 meddles in issues of pedagogical conceptions that, according to Art. 206, are the exclusive rights of educational institutions.

Representative entities should mobilize not only to challenge the Law itself and MEC’s ​​unconstitutionalities, illegality, and inconsistencies, but also to discuss specific educational regulations of its own, defining its educational policies and its own regulations based on Art. 205, subsection III, and Art. 209, section I, of CF/88.

If “teaching is free to private initiative, as long as the following conditions are met: I – compliance with the general norms of national education” (Article 209 of CF/88), and if the “general rules” refer to LDB/96 et sequitur, why don’t HEIs take the initiative that is constitutionally guaranteed to them and create their own particular educational jurisprudence that guarantees them the “pluralism of ideas and pedagogical conceptions”, as well as assume their rights of “coexistence of public and private educational institutions”, on an equal footing, especially in relation to universities?

I believe that entities representing private HEIs, well represented by their lawyers, can argue and defend their regulations and their rights before the judiciary in a positive way in defending the nation’s educational interests.

The MEC’s ​​unconstitutionalities, illegalities, and inconsistencies confuse the environments of the various players who are directly connected to the educational sector, including public and private leaders, evaluators, program coordinators, teachers, and students, contributing to a sense of insecurity that, literally, paralyzes the development of the sector. This confusion is exacerbated when the leaders of private HEIs, I do not know if by ignorance of the constitutional/legal rights and determinations, by convenience, or by pure incompetence, do not contest the public power and allow the compressor roll of unconstitutional, illegal and inconsistent regulation, which are constantly promulgated according to the Minister on duty, to roll over them.

Only when HEIs seize their freedoms of teaching, researching, disseminating knowledge and contesting the constitutionality of opinions, resolutions, ordinances, etc. with the purpose of developing their own pedagogical conceptions and, effectively, developing an educational environment where pluralism of ideas reigns, is that creativity and innovation will flourish and become routine practice in Brazilian education. It is a question of courage, determination and, above all, initiative.

If, on the one hand, the Public Sector has the function of ordering social relations in order to guarantee the order and progress of society, on the other hand we can never forget that it is the Private Sector, through the taxes it pays and the jobs it creates, that guarantees the Nation’s livelihood and that this responsibility can only be adequately fulfilled through an environment of legal stability in relation to constitutional freedoms, which are based on the guarantee of the initiative to create, to innovate, and to do.

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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