Without education there will be no solution


Author: Marco Antonio Rocha

Source: The State of S. Paulo, 07/01/2008

If there is still a shadow of doubt in political circles and public authorities about the close relationship between the quality of education in a country and its level of development - understood not only in the economic sense of the term, but encompassing the cultural, political, social aspect, artistic, etc. - this is being eliminated by the increasingly important presence, on the international stage, of emerging countries with the common characteristic of having adopted and implemented, since the second half of the last century, firm policies of planned improvement in the quality of education in all countries. levels.

The results that such policies exhibit, as drivers of quality development, in countries like Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, India, etc., and which had already been noticed much longer in relation to Japan - a country from which one can to say that he was rescued from the Middle Ages by education -, they do not leave room for more talks about whether or not to formulate and implement a structured program, of medium and long term, to improve the quality of Brazilian education at all levels .

At this moment, even President Lula - who, for many, is proof that success can be achieved without much educational baggage and, from the point of view of personal escalation, like his, this is even true, as also in cases of many successful businessmen - must be convinced that for a nation, a human society, the correct maxim is: without education there is really no solution! In view of the lack of qualified people to run good projects with which your government is struggling.

As the quality of education starts in bê-á-bá, that is, in elementary education, and since this is mainly the responsibility of city halls, it is very important that in this year of municipal elections the theme is part of the debates in public squares , in block pharmacies, in municipal markets, at road and rail stations, wherever candidates for councilors and mayors are calling for voters' attention - and even among them.

It is with this hope that we recommend to anyone who has access to the internet to read a study by the Institute for Economic Research Foundation (Fipe), released last November, made to order by the Brazilian Institute of Ethics in Competition (Etco), on the “quality of public spending in Brazil: suggestions for improving public policy results, without increasing taxes ”. And in it the chapter written by Professor Maria Dolores Montoya Diaz on the “quality of public spending on Education, in Brazil”.

More than 40 years ago, in 1966, as she tells us, a debate began on the effectiveness of the resources applied in education, prompted by a report published in the USA on Equality of Educational Opportunity, which became known as the Coleman Report. The report indicated that the most important factors in explaining students' academic performance were, first, family, then peers, with the school itself playing an insignificant role.

Hence the question that still presides over certain conclaves on the subject, and also certain decisions by governments: to improve the quality of education, which will be worth more, more money or better management of schools, with greater interaction with the families of students and other factors?

The statement by Professor Maria Dolores that “only recently has this discussion arrived in Brazil” is somewhat surprising.

And, in fact, what any Brazilian voter can testify is that in the speeches of candidates of any level, municipal, state or federal, there is always the mention or promise of more resources for education, without any, or almost none, reference a true teaching policy or a teaching program aimed at improving its quality.

And the problem, seen under the “angle of the amount of money, has gained even greater prominence, recently, according to Professor Maria Dolores, with the headlines that reported, in September last year, the annual report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on education. The one of the State said Country is the last one in the investment in education and the one of Folha, Brazil is the one that less invests in education. However, they referred to the average annual expenditure per student, one of the statistics in the report. But in terms of spending on education as a percentage of GDP, Brazil's position is even surprising, since, on a scale of 3,7% to 8% of GDP, among 31 countries, Brazil's expenditure corresponds to 6,6% of GDP and is higher than the OECD average of 6,3% (2003 data).

Leaving aside the important methodology developed by the teacher - which would not be possible to scrutinize in this space -, what matters is that she seeks to relate municipal spending per student in several Brazilian cities with the school result measured by the Basic Education Development Index (Ideb ), an educational quality indicator developed by the Ministry of Education.

And what is the conclusion? That the simple percentage increase in spending on education does not automatically guarantee an improvement in the quality of education. This is not to say that improvement is possible without resources. The important thing is that, before raising spending haphazardly, it is necessary to know what, in each city and school, are the factors that effectively account for the improvement and how much resources are needed to influence them.

In short, the study endorses something that was already in the OECD annual report, but did not receive due attention, that is, that spending is a prerequisite to provide high-level education, but it is just not enough to achieve high levels of results, which are only possible with an efficient and well-targeted use of resources.

* Marco Antonio Rocha is a journalist.
Email: marcoantonio.rocha @ grupoestado.com.br