Extreme moments help us to rethink different aspects of our trajectory, to review the directions that were taken and that took us to where we are in order to establish new goals. This is also the case in Brazilian education. For that, we need to reflect where we are, where we want to go and what we need to get there.”
Where are we
On December 3, 2019, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released data from Pisa (Program for International Student Assessment) for 2018. The figures released show that there was a significant increase in the average score from 2015 to 2018 , but that was not significant enough to demonstrate advances in the quality of education, keeping Brazil in a state of stagnation in the last 10 years. An example of this is the high percentage of students with performance very distant from the OECD average (13.4%) in the 3 subjects evaluated (reading, mathematics and science), having reached the percentage of 43.2%1.
We should be aware that, among other aspects, the socioeconomic level of students also interferes in the result, with the difference in score between the highest and lowest levels in 2009 was 84 points and increased to 97 in 2018. Another recent data refers to the HDI (Human Development Index) of Brazil. Measured annually, it ranges from 0 to 1 and is based on health, education and income indicators; and, the bigger, the more developed the country2. In this new assessment (2018), Brazil reached the HDI of 0.761, with a small improvement of 0.001 over the previous year (2017). Despite the slight increase, there was a drop in the position in the world ranking in relation to the previous publication, going from 78th to 79th (UNDP 2019 / UN).
This does not mean that there are only negative points in Brazilian education. The results of Pisa point to an improvement in Basic Education in Brazil, especially between the years 2000 and 2009, with advances being registered in the 3 areas evaluated between 2000 and 2018. Therefore, despite the socioeconomic issues interfering considerably in performance results, they are not decisive, given the example of some northeastern states that have carried out systematic actions, such as Ceará and Pernambuco, improving the quality of education they offer and positively impacting students’ performance. But it is necessary to mirror these results for the entire national territory, a challenge the size of a country of continental dimensions.
Where do we want to go
When we think about the success of other countries, especially in Latin America such as Chile and Peru, we see that a common aspect is the professionalization and enhancement of teachers’ careers. Therefore, it is necessary to provide training with an emphasis on how to teach, salary increase in order to promote a change in the profile of candidates for the profession, in addition to constant evaluations in order to certify professional updating based on evidence that guide training needs.
Another issue to be considered would be the establishment of a national exam for teachers, a fact that, possibly, would guarantee the maintenance of the quality of entry into the career, in addition to providing a structure of continuing education that allows the improvement of pedagogical practices.
What we need to get there
Teacher quality is the factor that directly affects student learning. With this aspect guaranteed, we would begin to envision a horizon of possibilities for Brazilian students and, together with the guarantee of continuity of public policies that present effective results, we will obtain satisfactory educational results, transforming the Brazilian reality and, consequently, young Brazilians who have the right to quality education, with guaranteed equality and equity.
Prof. Dr. Simone Silveira Amorim
Professor of the Graduate Program in Education – PPED / Tiradentes University; Researcher at ITP / SE and Tiradentes Institute. Leader of the Education and Society Research Group: subjects and educational practices (GEPES / Unit) <https://sites.google.com/view/grupopesquisaeducacaosociedade>. E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
1This percentage in Chile is 23.5%; in Portugal it is 12.6%; in the United States it is 12.6%; in Canada, 6.4%; in China, 1.1%.
2The countries in the first positions in the ranking are Norway, with 0.954; Switzerland, with 0.946 and Ireland, with 0.942 (UNDP 2019, UN).