Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Roundtable: Education and Media

Written by on .

The following article deals with the topic “Education and Media,” which is currently being discussed at the Global Economic Symposium in Rio. The author intends to enrich the discussion at the symposium with his personal stories and ideas.

Since the level of education of teachers themselves is not the greatest and their salaries — at least in Brazil — are terrible, and they are forced to work in more than one school and lack the time to prepare for class, the government of the city of Rio de Janeiro has implemented programs such as online environments and simple handouts in order to address such problems. That’s what was stated by secretary of education Claudia Costin. Interesting, but not a word about improving the quality of teacher training or paying better wages.

It’s the simplest way to do nothing by doing something. In other words, you don’t tackle the real problems of the educational system in Brazil and just prepare handouts and online games, etc. in order to try — just try — to improve the system or at least give some chance to a handful of students to achieve something and dream of a better education or a higher degree.

The quality of teaching itself is not important. Online games, handouts and an online environment seem to be enough to change a vicious system that has not received enough investment over the years. By doing this, teachers lose the freedom to innovate for themselves and to prepare personalized materials for different students of different backgrounds.

It is a way of extending teaching while depersonalizing and standardizing it, treating it as just a product and not as a tool for empowerment and personal — as well as collective — growth.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use the internet, online environments, etc. as tools for teaching but only that we cannot rely completely — or simply — on them. The online environment, when we talk about teaching, is a complementary tool that cannot suppress or overlap the classroom teaching.

Competition is another problem that we face, especially when we consider that most universities are only interested in throwing professionals into the market, but not humanist professionals. Universities are just preparing (or not even “preparing,” but simply giving a degree to, without much effort) professionals who are interested in making their first million dollars before their 30s. And most of them don’t care about giving back what they got through education on its basic levels. The idea is to take, take, take and never give back.

In other words, we lack good, humanist professionals who will spread knowledge on all levels of the educational system and who are not only interested in personal financial growth.

Substituting such professionals for online tools and environments won’t solve the problem (or problems) of the educational system. It will only make it worse. There will be no real investment in teachers and infrastructure (in Brazil this is already a terrible reality); all of it can be replaced by online environments, handouts and online classes.

Online tools are important and at some point complementary, but they have their place, and they cannot substitute for classroom teaching by prepared and motivated teachers with proper infrastructure in their classes.

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia Twitter: @tsavkkoRaphael

PhD candidate in Human Rights (Universidad de Deusto), MA in Communications (Cásper Líbero), Bachelor in Intl. Relations (PUCSP), blogger, journalist and author/translator at Global Voices Online.