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School Memories

Project organizes a data bank to archive public policies in education

With the democratic openness that occurred in Brazil during the 70’s, there was a widening of the opportunities for university professors and educators in public universities began to participate in the management of the teaching systems in the country. These professionals brought with them innovative educational projects, but these initiatives were local policies that remained restricted to the region where they were developed.

In order to rescue, to document, to discuss and to make possible public access to this information that professors Celso de Rui Beisiegel and Romualdo Portela de Oliveira, of the Education School of the University of São Paulo (FEUSP), put together the thematic project: Construction of a Data Bank on the Experiences of Public University Professors in Public Education Administration over the Last Few Decades.

Guided by the two professors, seven students covered various States of Brazil collecting and registering all types of information available – both in state and municipal administrations – about the activities of the professors in public universities in the defining and execution of educational policies. They picked up documents, interviewed educators and promoted seminars with the participation of those professors in an attempt to understand the work that they had developed and to debate its importance.

The result has been the building up of an electronic data bank that can already count upon the registration of more than forty public teaching administration experiences. Professor Romualdo Portela created a structure for registration that allows for the permanent up-dating of these documents, the insertion of new experiences and consultation via various criteria. “All of this material is available on the Education School’s homepage for public consultation. Anybody can consult it by the data, administration, state, region of the country or theme”, explains the professor from the Educational School and Economy Administration Department of FEUSP. “The intention is to create a more systematic follow up of these policies and to provide support for any other type of research.”

FAPESP financed the project to the extent of conceding five scholarships of scientific initiation for the undergraduate students and a further two scholarships for technical training for the training of the post graduate students. The field research lasted two years and began on the 1st of January 1999. The starting point was the production of a list that selected beforehand educators who had involved themselves in activities concerned with the directing of public teaching policies beginning in 1982.

“We related to various colleagues who had occupied or are still occupying management positions, mainly at the federal and state levels”, says professor Beisiegel. “However, during the field work we discovered very good pieces of work in the city governments as well.” In order to standardize the collection of the information, an extensive questionnaire was made up to be completed by those interviewed. The routine of the interview covered the following points: general and diagnostic data available about the situation in public education at a particular time and within the considered region; survey of the first intervention proposals; established priorities; the process of the development of the work; relationships with the policy agencies; problems confronted; available resources for carrying out the work; survey of the documentation produced; survey of the reporting by the news media and an evaluation of the final work.

Professor Beisiegel explained that the idea for the building up of this data bank came about in 1997, with the creation of the Research and Study Center for Public Educational Policies. The center was created by professors from the thematic area “State, Society and Education”, of FEUSP, with the objective of promoting and giving incentive to the carrying out of research in this area. “However, before promoting the research, the center’s intention was to rescue the important role that many researchers had had when they had begun to meet together – during the military regime – to discuss the pathways that education in Brazil might take”, says Beisiegel.

“These meetings ended up turning themselves into discussion centers which afterwards, with the ending of the oppression, contributed to fortifying the research and study institutes.” This was the reason for the choice of the year 1982 as the basis for the start of the data surveying. The researchers explained that the elections held beginning in the decade of the 80’s opened up the discussion about the public administration of education for the academic world, which meant a considerable improvement in the quality of the intervention proposals.

“Brazil had come through very difficult decades from the point of view of educational policies. In an intense period of population growth, the public power extended the opportunity of access to schooling to practically all of the school age population, but did not invest in the necessary resources to confront this expansion of attentiveness”, explains Beisiegel.

The professor also underlines that the Brazilian public school has passed through a painful process of lack of investment. Public education began to be considered “the teaching of the poor”, the option of those belonging to the lowest classes of the population, who could not have access to the private service of better quality. It was during the 70’s that researchers, educators and intellectuals inserted into their discussion agenda the urgent intervention to promote the universality of basic schooling, and mainly, the improvement in the quality of teaching that would extend itself to the poorer classes. “This process only gained force with the re-opening towards democracy”, says Beisiegel. “The academics who discussed the policies of the necessary intervention, were able to effectively implement them.”

Some administrations were given priority in the survey as they were considered exemplary for the debate in their determined areas. One of them is the administration of Luiza Erundina in the city hall of São Paulo between 1989 and 1992. “On the 15th of November 1988, the Worker Party (PT) won the municipal election in the city of São Paulo and this moment is very well marked”, says Romualdo Portela. “A popular party, and clearly of the opposition, for the first time in its history, assumed the control of the most important city in the country.”

Paulo Freire
Besides the fact that the mayor was a teacher and a social worker, what contributed to this administration becoming an example for the study of educational policies was the choice of the educator Paulo Freire for the command of the Municipal Secretariat of Education. The most important structural changes introduced during Freire’s administration revolved around the autonomy of the school. School councils and student societies were re-established. Paulo Freire’s first act was to restore the Common Rules of the Municipal Schools, abolished by the previous administration. Other highlighted policies during this period were the creation of the programs of instruction in reading and writing of young people and adults and the permanent training of professors.

Darcy Ribeiro
Another administration analyzed in depth was the first government of the ex-governor Leonel Brizola leading the state of Rio de Janeiro. The benchmark of this administration was the creation of Integrated Centers of Public Education (CIEPs), a project initiated by Darcy Ribeiro. The CIEPs are large schools, projected by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, which function as educational and cultural centers for the population of the metropolitan periphery. “It was an innovative and functional proposal and one which served as an example for other projects, including those in other states”, explains Portela.

In spite of giving greater attention and better depth to public policies that ends up being examples or references for the drawing up of other projects (such as those already cited), the work of the researchers does not make any type of analytical evaluation. The data bank registers the developed projects, dates and circumstances under which they were implanted, the results and the possible outcomes. In one or more cases, the team detected the repetition of proposals in other locations, with adaptations. In these cases, comparisons were done against the original proposals.

All of the Activities of the Study and Research Center of Public Policies in Education will begin to be registered, starting from now, in the developed data bank. In the same way as the researchers of specific themes developed by the students of the post graduation course. The intention of the professors is that through this archive a true research laboratory about the theme is developed. “We’re forming the structure and are developing a system, and we’ve already archiving here the first documents”, says Portela. “The feeding of the data bank will be done automatically, as the researchers begin to consult it, they can suggest new ideas that might be added to it.”

To analyze, discuss and scientifically qualify the projects already completed and the others that will also be registered afterwards in the data bank are in the plans of the two professors. “But this is another study proposal, independent from the formation of the data bank”, advised Portela.

Building of a Data Bank about the Experiences of Public University Professors in Administration of Public Policies over the Last Few Decades
Thematic project
Celso de Rui Beisiegel and Romualdo Portela de Oliveira – Education Collegeof the University of São Paulo
R$ 74,150.00