BRASÍLIA, DF – The weak execution of the MEC (Ministry of Education) budget, the reallocation of funds to other areas and the losses in the 2021 budget have resulted in a drain on federal actions aimed at basic education and professional training.
The themes were announced as a priority by the Jair Bolsonaro government (without a party), but the discourse is not reflected in practice.
The 2021 budget, currently being analyzed in Congress, foresees for the MEC a 21% reduction in resources for vocational and technological education programs and a 7% reduction in positions registered as quality basic education.
The comparison is from the Chamber’s Budget Consultancy with this year’s piece relating to the 2020 project.
These will be the biggest losses for MEC and will affect actions such as support for school infrastructure, full-time implementation and the on-line Internet program in the units – which, until August, no ‘had nothing executed from this year’s budget, as Folha de S. Paulo revealed.
Asked how to keep the priority on these issues with the reduction in resources, the MEC said in a note that in addition to the financial issue, the portfolio has the role of providing technical assistance.
“Next year is going to be complicated, we will have to intensify a lot of learning to replace what was not produced in 2020”, declares Josué Modesto, Secretary of Education of Sergipe and coordinator of the front for the improvement of public expenditure at Consed (council of education secretaries).
Back to school will require more effort in transportation and food, he said. “It would be essential for the MEC to have some form of support, but the portfolio budget is tight.”
To strengthen federal work, the government defined, at the beginning of the month, the withdrawal of 1.4 billion reais from MEC in 2020. It is the portfolio that has lost the most.
Of this total, 1.2 billion reais come from basic and vocational education, in actions that have not yet been implemented.
The reductions concern, for example, funds for civic-military schools and transfers for literacy activities, themes which are the flags of the current government.
To cope with the relocation, there will also be losses in the promotion of new enrollments in technical education and in the expansion and restructuring of the federal network of vocational education. In the latter item, for example, the reduction reaches 51% of the budget of R $ 214 million, which in turn had only 2% of execution in the year.
The government’s bill that defines the cuts is the result of an agreement with members of Congress from the center and also includes money for parliamentary amendments.
The vote on this text should not take place before November, but, for the moment, the resource cannot be used.
The economic argument for the reduction, according to reports published in the report, is that the MEC will not need the resources, since the Covid-19 pandemic has caused schools to be closed. This is refuted by education officials, experts and parliamentarians.
This year, the MEC was accused of failing to support states and municipalities in this confrontation.
State education departments have estimated spending at R $ 1.9 billion, through mid-year, on actions related to online courses and maintenance of meals.
“While at the end of the day we run out of money, MEC has resources invested,” says Felipe Poyares, of Todos Pela Educação. “And a story is created which, if there is no execution, can be undone.”
There is openness to changes in the 2021 cut and budget in Congress. Assistant Professor Israel (PV-DF), secretary general of the Parliamentary Education Front, says he will meet with the collective to try to cut losses.
“We are paying for a series of mistakes that have arisen since 2019. Education is not at the center of the Bolsonaro government’s plan, so there are always cuts,” he says.
In the past, the MEC had lost 926 million reais in a similar maneuver to pay for amendments.
Not counting staff costs, MEC executed 56% of this year’s budget. As Folha de S. Paulo revealed in June, the majority of spending was on unpaid 2019 commitments under the leadership of former minister Abraham Weintraub.
In an interview, Education Minister Milton Ribeiro excused the federal government from supporting networks during the pandemic.
Just last week, the MEC formalized a specific resource to help schools return to school, with a forecast of 525 million reais for 117,000 schools as of this month.
With regard to vocational training, the cuts affect the delayed work in 24 federal institutes, which total 88 million reais, according to a survey by Conif (National Council of Institutions of the Federal Network for Professional, Scientific and Technological Education).
Construction of rooms, laboratory, acquisition of equipment, updating of the data center to strengthen distance learning and even roof renovation.
Jadir Pela, president of Conif, points out that the institutes’ budget has been the same since 2017.
“We’ll have a smaller budget and next year the student will cost more, with the need for hybrid education, greater distance,” he says. “We do not have, in this government, a policy of science and technology education.”
In 2019, MEC announced the Novos Caminhos program, which promised to create 1.5 million jobs in technical education by 2023. But, without a budget, the scale of it depends on educational networks.
The portfolio said that, as part of the program, it had renegotiated R $ 357 million (of stalled resources) to create 134,000 vacancies in technical professional qualification courses offered by states and municipalities. The department did not respond to the offer in person for this volume.
In a note, the MEC said that losing 1.4 billion reais by the end of the year did not represent “losses in the actions of the Secretariat of Basic Education” in the face of the pandemic.
The ministry also said it has strengthened the transfer to schools and produced a guide with safety protocols.
Regarding literacy, the government said 3,975 municipalities and 16 states have joined the MEC program and 270,000 teachers have registered for online courses.
Effective implementation actions, such as teacher training and transfers for the payment of literacy assistants, should only take place from 2021, “with the readjustment of the implementation schedule due to the isolation social which interrupted school activities “.