Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

How Much Does Education Cost?

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The following article deals with the topic “Effective Investments in Education,” which was discussed at the Global Economic Symposium in Rio. The author intends to promote ongoing discussion of this topic by sharing her personal stories and ideas.

Effective Investments in Education GES 2012 Panel. Photo taken by the author

Effective Investments in Education GES 2012 Panel | Photo taken by the author

As a fundamental right, and the key difference-maker for successful development, education in Brazil already has a lot of ground to make up. And as with anything that is a big deal, investment in education has its price. But what costs much more than making effective investments in education is not doing it.

Collapses in education turn into continuous societal degeneration. Problems such as increased rates of crime, low economic growth and high public spending make it urgent that we initiate change in order to achieve a better future.

The panel “Economic Investments in Education” failed to bring new ideas for real change on this front. Transparency, investments in pedagogy and technological infrastructure are all good ideas, but they are not new; rather, they are ideas that get remembered and dusted off for moments like the Symposium.

Besides not being new, many of the ideas proposed by the panel do not reflect the reality in Brazil and, in the same way, do not fit it.

One panelist said that “the only way to change education is by starting to evaluate teacher performance.” This panelist also said that directors of public schools should be able to evaluate teachers, all of them, regardless of their expertise. That means a teacher who spent five years earning a graduate degree in a specific area, such as biology, math or arts could be evaluated by a director who has no specialized knowledge in that field? Is that fair? Is it really a good solution?

And I haven’t even mentioned directors in the interior areas of Brazil, who in many cases, don’t have any post-graduate education.

I just want to see real innovation. Am I wrong, or have I already heard these proposals many times during my student life?

An art and Design Education project in a geographically isolated public school | Ilha Design - Brazil. Photo taken by the author

An Art and Design Education project in a geographically isolated public school | Ilha Design – Brazil | Photo taken by the author

Technology can’t give us a real chance to change the system, although it helps. Transparency is an obvious topic in every development agenda. And eliminating bad teachers is quite a good idea; however, training and appreciation are words that should come much earlier.

I’m not here to judge the panelists. I believe we were all there to try to find a way for global education. What I mean is, let’s get into the place, visit the reality, smell it, and listen to the people who are facing the problems. I can’t say what a kid who is lacking in food, health and care needs just by sitting down in my school chair with air conditioning, fancy pens and a tablet.

Education is not a matter of arithmetic; it’s a matter of the heart. It is about preparing kids to paint the future.

Elis Anjos Twitter: @elisanjos

Designer and thinker, creating for the world, working from Rio.