Brazil: Government tries to repeal mechanism that establishes minimum funding needed to ensure quality education
March 28, 2019
By calling an extraordinary and secret meeting of the National Education Council for the afternoon of last Tuesday, March 26, the Brazilian government tried to repeal the “CAQ” (Cost student quality) and the “CAQUi” (Initial cost student quality), mechanisms of the National Education Plan that translate into values how much the country should invest per student per year, in each stage of public education, to insure a quality education
What are the CAQi and the CAQ?
The CAQi is an educational funding mechanism created by the National Campaign for the Right to Education, which is a member of the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE). The CAQi started to be developed in 2002, in partnership and dialogue with researchers, economists, parliamentarians, students and teachers, among others.
This mechanism translates into values the amount that the country have to invest per student per year, in each stage and modality of public education, to guarantee a minimum parameter of quality of education.
The CAQ has been discussed and calculated more recently, and represents the effort that Brazil must make to reach developed countries in relation to education [learn more about CAQ-CAQi].
In 2014, the National Campaign was able to include the CAQi and CAQ concepts in the National Education Plan (PNE) 2014-2024. Under the Plan, the CAQi should have been implemented by July 2016, when, in addition, the content of the CAQ should have been defined, but those goals were not reached.
In an attempt to discuss and approve the revocation of the mechanism, the government called the National Education Council (CNE) for an extraordinary and secret meeting without the participation of civil society, for March 26. When the National Campaign for the Right of education found out that the meeting was being organized, it requested more information to the national education board based on the Access to Information Act, but there was no response. Then, it triggered federal public ministry and the the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Citizen’s Rights) (MPF / PFDC) ordered the CNE to publish, within 24 hours, information on the meeting and the agenda to be discussed, so that the society could participate in the deliberations on the CAQi / CAQ mechanism.
After the determination of the Ministry and the dissemination of the government intentions through nationwide communications media, which were informed by the National Campaign for the Right to Education about what was happening, the CNE disclosed more details about the meeting and informed that the debate would be open to the participation of civil society. “The National Education Council is not acting transparently and based on the principles of democratic debate, by convening a meeting without prior warning or debate and behind closed doors, with the aim of deconstructing the CAQi / CAQ. It is a coordinated action with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economy, which aims to dismantle Brazilian education, since it touches on its most structuring policy, “said Andressa Pellanda, executive coordinator of the National Campaign.
According to the National Campaign for the Right to Education, the Initial Quality Student Cost is not only a financing tool, but also a social control tool. It allows parents to control educational quality from the conditions of the system, which include: the adequate number of students per classroom; salaries, remuneration and career plans for teachers compatible with the responsibilities of the profession; facilities and adequate school infrastructure, such as: libraries, science and computer labs, internet access, covered sports courts, drinking water, electricity and basic sanitation. “The CAQI covers the conditions and material inputs that are necessary so that the teachers can teach and improve with the quality,” said the general coordinator of the National Campaign for the Right to Education, Daniel Cara.
In a public letter, the Campaign affirmed that CNE councilors and counselors can not retreat the advances to the consolidation of the right of education by leaving aside the CAQi and the CAQ, because these financing mechanisms are fundamental to the fulfillment of the goals of the National Plain of Education.”They can not do this in subordination to the economic project of the government of Jair Messias Bolsonaro, led by the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes. Neither peacefully submit to the confused management of Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez in the Ministry of Education. The mission of counselors and counselors should be the defense of educational rights, “states the letter.
At the CNE meeting on March 26, a modification was approved in Council Opinion No. 8/2010, which regulates the CAQi as a public policy strategy for Brazilian education, in order to overcome the historical inequalities in the provision of education in the country. The modification maintains the reference to the CAQi, but eliminates the definition of a minimum amount of resources that should be invested per student of basic education per year, based on the per capita GDP.
“Due to our action, this change does not completely deconstruct the CAQi concept, and the CNE president has committed to establishing an agenda for discussions on this funding mechanism in the Council. However, it is an absurd decision that comes under pressure from the government’s economic sector, and it does not respect the state’s constitutional obligation to distribute resources to states and municipalities to insure the right to quality public education for children, adolescents, youth and people adult and elderly people in the country, “says Daniel Cara.
From Brazil to other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean
The CAQ / CAQi mechanism is also relevant for Latin America and the Caribbean. Because it was conceived and developed in alliance and dialogue with researchers, economists, parliamentarians, students and teachers, among others, it represents an important precedent for other countries in the region because that they can think about their educational financing from the establishment minimum quality parameters and democratic debate with society and educational communities.
Throughout the history of CAQi and through CLADE, a cooperative effort has been made between Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries, so that other civil society organizations and coalitions can appropriate this financing mechanism, deepening their studies in educational financing related to quality. This regional cooperation is cited in a publication of the National Campaign, which takes up the historical development of the CAQi’s.
Author: Thais Iervolino
Translation to English: Júlia Mendes