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La Educación
Número: (122) III
Año: 1995

The Debate on the Plan in the Municipalities and in the States

Upon sending the Plan to the states and municipalities and requesting that they draw up plans of their own, the Ministry of Education and Sport proposed a specific methodology to guide the process of debate and the structuring of the plans,1 which included a process by which strategies for mobilization could be discussed. The common denominator of this methodology was community participation, an important element for ensuring the motivation and engagement of the various participants. Therefore, the process through which the plans were drawn up took place in three stages:
  • The School Stage (in which the schools coordinated the discussion at the neighborhood level)
  • The Inter-Neighborhood Stage (for medium-and-large size municipalities)
  • The Municipal Stage (committees for the consolidation of the plans and proposals from the earlier stages)
The methodology suggested by the Ministry of Education and Sport was not intended to establish a rigid model, but rather to serve as a guideline for the states and municipalities. It is worth noting that the Ministry, when requesting the elaboration of state and municipal ten-year plans, did not establish any link to counterpart funding so as to avoid any form of false positioning, as had occurred in the past with the demand for a statute for teachers and a career plan.

The states and the municipalities accepted the challenge and embarked upon a remarkable series of public discussions and proposals for the elaboration of the plans. The municipal debates included participants from a vast array of entities, the most preeminent of them being UNDIME, UNICEF and the universities. Regional delegates from the Ministry of Education played an important role in the elaboration of the ten-year plans. A significant number of events were planned at the municipal level throughout the country and in some cases groups of municipalities collaborated at a single event. The motivation and current interest of the themes debated constitute a promising basis for attaining the goal whereby each municipality will have a basic agenda for educational policy which can serve to provide a basic orientation, both in terms of municipal education spending and for the commitments to be assumed.

The Ten-Year Plan has as one of its goals the elaboration of strategies for the mobilization of civil society so that it may generate demand for higher quality and actively participate for school reform. This assumes that it will be possible to sign public commitments with the parties involved. If such commitments are to have the desired results, they must be fully discussed by the parties involved. It is important to establish the difference between a commitment and a promise. Promises have become commonplace and discredited. A commitment on the other hand requires a previous negotiation of clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Evaluation must involve all parties; herein lies its political importance. For example, the commitment to improve the school system in a given municipality, by means of gradual steps which are reasonably well defined, assumes that there is to be community involvement and participation. Such co-responsibility is important since the effects of improvements in education do not become apparent from one day to the next. It is then necessary for the quality of the process to be safeguarded. “Quality of the process” means that the responsibilities which have been shared and negotiated at the school management level, municipal level, and state and federal levels, are effectively being put into practice, and do not simply remain as political discourse and empty promises.

The strategy of commitments means a public exercise in making the duties and rights of all prevail for all. What should not be accepted are demands which fall constantly upon only one of the parties, for example, placing the blame for the poor quality of teaching entirely on the teachers, or criticizing the State in situations in which the engagement of the family and society have also been lacking. Neither should the child be penalized or failed since the causes of such failure are, as a rule, due to other variables.