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La Educación
Número: (122) III
Año: 1995

The Framework of the Ten-Year Plan

The Ten-Year Plan was created from ideas enunciated at the World Declaration of Education for All. It was approved by acclamation at the Jomtien Conference in Thailand, in March 1990, before delegations from 155 countries, 20 inter-governmental agencies, and 150 non-government organizations. Based upon a clause of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states that “all persons have the right to education,” a Plan of Action was drawn up to fulfill the basic needs for schooling. The assumptions upon which this Plan of Action was based led to the adoption of a strategy for wide-ranging social mobilization and the formation of alliances and partnerships among people and institutions which have the capacity to help. This strategy, which many people viewed as weakening the State is, in fact, aimed at mobilizing the community and society in general, with a view to strengthening the actions of the State and placing education on the agenda of all public authorities as the highest of national priorities.

What must change, and such change is long overdue, is the paternalistic attitude of the all-providing State which ignores the responsibilities of the family and society as a whole with regard to education.

The Jomtiem Declaration recommended that countries participating in the elaboration of a Plan of Action for the 1990s should aim to fulfill the basic schooling needs for all children, adolescents and adults. The Ten-Year Plan should have been launched at the beginning of the government of President Fernando Collor de Mello. Efforts were made by the National Program for Literacy and Citizenship (PNAC), which succeeded in mobilizing certain segments of society. However, problems stemming from internal conflicts within the Ministry of Education, further aggravated by the traditional discontinuity of actions from one administration to another, made it impossible for the PNAC to achieve favorable results. Attempts on the part of the technical staff of the agency to regain the initiative also failed.

At the beginning of 1993, the current Minister of Education and Sport, Murílio Hingel, was invited by the Chinese Government to participate in a national conference on the progress achieved by China in its policy for Education for All. As a result, he realized the importance of resuming the application of the concepts proposed at Jomtiem to the Brazilian educational crisis. Upon his return from China, he ordered that a Ten-Year Plan of Education for All be drawn up.

To achieve this objective, the Ministry of Education and Sport (MEC) set up an Executive Group composed of representatives of the Ministry, the National Council of State Secretaries of Education (CONSED), the Union of Municipal Directors of Education (UNDIME), and a Consultative Committee made up of representatives of government and non-government entities. A National Education for All Week was also organized, which took place from May 10-14, 1993, with discussions on various aspects and dimensions of the policy of education for all. Various segments of society including unions, employers associations and education specialists participated.

The highlight of this week was that the National Commitment to Education For All was drawn up collectively and signed by the three levels of government (MEC, CONSED and UNDIME), and the representatives of a large number of other entities. This document was conceived and drawn up based upon a consensual minimum agenda, which sought briefly to state the aspirations matured in the struggle for the reform of primary education in Brazil.

The Executive Group drew up the Ten-Year Plan using the National Commitment as a basis, taking into consideration the results and recommendations of Education For All Week, analyses of studies, and the conclusions of public debates on primary education.

A methodology was sought which would respect the Brazilian Federal System. It would not have been possible to draw up a plan which went into minute detail, as if it were still possible to think of education on the national scale in terms of bureaucratic centralized planning. Care was taken to keep the plan simple by establishing a set of general indispensable and urgent guidelines, objectives and goals for the country as a whole, so as to foster national discussions. These, in turn, would serve as a point of reference for the actions carried out by the states and municipalities, as well as the public and private entities and institutions which are ultimately responsible for providing primary education.

The methodology chosen was an important element in the policy of the Plan. According to the Constitution, education was the responsibility of the State, the family, and society, and it was therefore necessary to draw up strategies to give greater leverage to primary education, simultaneously at the levels of the State and civil society so as to provide the necessary level of detail and scope for the essential and democratic negotiation.

In compliance with one of the recommendations of the Consultative Council, the Ten-Year Plan was converted into a government proposal for circulation among state and municipal level educational systems and civil society. Through means of a methodology which allowed for wide-ranging discussion, it became possible to take into account criticisms and amendments to the Plan, thereby making it a reference instrument in the establishment of partnerships between the government and civil society. Furthermore, this made it an instrument not only for education for all, but also of education for all (UNICEF 1993).

The idea of education for all takes on special importance in the current critical debate for Brazilian education. It is no longer acceptable for the State to be fully responsible for educational policy, although this does not imply that they can neglect their duties. The Ten-Year Plan seeks a realignment of responsibilities between the states and society. For public authorities (Federal, State and Municipal) this means fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities, and for civil society it means exercising citizenship. On the one hand, this plan demands more schools and better quality, and on the other hand, it assists the schools to perform efficiently their public duty while applying pressure at the various levels. As a result, Brazil may be able to: achieve educational performance at the real level, not just in terms of party-political campaign promises; enhance the social importance of teachers; and achieve professional quality in such a way as to make the schools publicly accountable for their performance.

In mid-1993, the Ten-Year Plan was sent out to all the states and municipalities in Brazil and to the various entities representing civil society, including universities and institutions which offer teacher-training courses and which train specialists in education. The Minister of Education and Sport requested that all of these entities at the various levels submit criticisms and suggestions. The states and municipalities were requested to draw up their own Ten-Year Plans, taking all such suggestions and criticisms into account.

The strategy for the elaboration of the municipal and state ten-year plans was ample in scope, whereas in the past it had been very restricted. According to the 1988 Constitution, the states and municipalities have clear responsibilities with regard to primary education. Furthermore, Brazil is a country of vast regional, social, cultural and economic differences. No form of planning which ignores the peculiarities and singularities of the various regions of the nation could possibly be successful. By centralizing education in Brazil, the regions’ characteristics, which are fundamental to the formation of cultural identity, were ignored. Rather than seeking to accommodate local initiatives, the central powers used directives, decrees and laws to override any initiative which arose from those committed to the struggle to overcome the existing conditions.