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La Educación
Número: (122) III
Año: 1995

The Ten-Year Plan in the Schools

The first stage of the discussion of the Plan reached out to the states and municipalities. On the suggestion of the Ministry, and after negotiations with CONSED and UNDIME, the States began to generate debate on the Plan by means of a three-party committee, which was presided over by the Secretary of Education with the State President of UNDIME and the Delegate of the Ministry of Education in the state. This mechanism generally proved to be very effective. In some states this Committee was expanded to include the universities, teachers unions, and entities representing civil society.

Having completed this first stage of the preparation of the Plan, a new concern began to emerge in the discussions and dialogues which repeatedly took place within the Executive Group, the Consultative Committee for the Plan, and in some of the regional seminars. This concern focused on the future of the Plan—its continuity and political sustainability. More specifically, this concern was related to the need to place the Plan under discussion in the schools. It would be difficult to conceive of public education reform in Brazil without effective school involvement. Many earlier attempts at reform came to nought because they were conceived in an authoritarian and centralized manner, and failed to forge a necessary alliance with the school community.

In an unprecedented operation, with support from the Foundation for Assistance to Students (FAE) and private text book producers, the Ministry of Education and Sport succeeded in sending copies of the Ten-Year Plan to 45,000 of the largest schools throughout the country for debate by the school community.

Discussion of the Plan by the schools was organized in such a way as to coincide with the first stage of the National Conference on Education For All, in compliance with one of the commitments that Brazil made at the Summit Conference in New Delhi. With the support of CONSED and UNDIME, the general format for this debate was proposed. The suggested format was drawn up in a collegiate manner, and sought to tackle the following themes, among others: quality and repetition of grades; professional training and teacher education; the role of the community and leaders of civil society; and citizenship of the schools and their responsibility towards children and adolescents.

Discussions on different dates and using various methodologies were held throughout the country, and the results were gathered at the state level for their eventual presentation and discussion at the National Conference and for later use as inputs to enhance the Ten-Year Plan.

Discussion of the Plan by the school community was conducted to obtain critical inputs and suggestions for its improvement, and to elicit proposals from each school for concrete action within the context of the general goals established. In other words, the Ten-Year Plan would only bear fruit if each school drew up its own policy for pedagogical action in conjunction with the community.

Within the methodological framework of the Plan, the pedagogical project takes on a preeminent position. This approach makes it possible to provide conceptual content for the strategy of the Plan using inputs provided directly by the schools and expanding the commitments of the school towards the community it serves. The more the school strengthens its partnership with the community, the greater its pedagogical and administrative independence. The schools therefore will begin to feel more responsive to the parents and to the communities which support them and need their services.

Admittedly, the process being extended to the schools by the Ten-Year Plan, which allows each school to develop its own pedagogical project, is but a first step. The potential of this line of approach and its social applicability appears to be unlimited. The experience of such states as Paraná and Minas Gerais has been most promising. The school community, while drawing up its own project for development, has broadened its social responsibility and made its educational function more explicit, which will surely contribute to improving the quality of the schooling it provides.