“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation
with the bricks that others throw at him or her.” –David Brinkley
When assessing the best way to possible to rebuild Brazil and Chile’s higher education model, the Ministers of Education will need fast-acting, logical ideas that support sustainable efforts to reconstruct an outdated university infrastructure. The current dysfunctional system which students continue to protest, minimally prepares those enrolled to enter a competitive, financially delicate, intricately complex, technologically advanced marketplace.
Of course in time all of South America’s ‘higher education’ head honchos will face a challenging transition as they revise how and what their campuses will teach the modern, digitally geared learner. So as these countries begin such a hefty urban overhaul, get to know the two main Ministers managing this reformation:
Chile’s Minister of Education …….. Harald Ricardo Beyer Burgos
Age- 48 ; Born in- Osorno, Chile
Alma Mater- Universidad de Chile
Political Affiliation- Independent
Entered Office on- December 29th, 2011
Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) website- www.MinEduc.cl/
Before he was Minister…
Prior to his new political position, Beyer previously served as Deputy Director for the Center of Public Studies (CEP), a public opinion poll company. He’s also served as Education Committee Coordinator, working with Chile think-tank organization, the Tantauco Group. In 2008, Beyer also worked closely with the Council Rectors of Chilean Universities delegation. But most importantly, in 2006 Beyer sat on the Presidential Advisory Council, convened at the time by President Michelle Bachelet, to help address the ‘Penguin Revolution’ student protests.
Students leaders fear concern that… although Beyer possess genuine academic leadership expertise, his background includes little political experience; therefore it’s likely that his committee will be unable to meet their demands for an end to Chile’s class-based education system.
Challenge(s) ahead… Planning/executing a proactive strategy that diplomatically albeit efficiently resolves how to deal with mounting student protests, which polls show carry a 70% national approval rating supporting their demands.
Brazil’s Minister of Education …….. Aloizio Mercadante
Age- 58 ; Born in- Santos, Brazil
Alma Mater- BA-Economics, University of São Paulo ;
MA and PhD- Economics, University of Campinas
Political Affiliation- Workers’ Party
Entered Office on- January 24th, 2012
Ministry of Education (MEC) website- www.Mec.Gov.br/
Before he was Minister…
Mercadante’s political career really began when he helped establish his political party system ‘The Workers’ Party’ in 1980. He was later nominated to office as a São Paulo State Senator between 2003 and 2010. After accepting President Rousseff’s 2011 cabinet bid nomination, he served as Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation until 2012 when he changed responsibilities.
Students/Professors/Academic leaders fear concern that… Mercadante’s committee will fail to create an education environment that helps two million voting teachers gain access to more adequate resources, professional training, and technological skills. Sustainable, improvements will only take place when national structural polices begin to change.
Challenge(s) ahead… Designing/implementing unprecedented reform to improve almost every aspect concerning education that will better prepare Brazil to handle the 2014 World Cup, and 2016’s Summer Olympics. Mercadante will also need to build programs that help Brazil reach a 30% university enrollment target and a 98% goal to put lower education children into school by 2022. There’s also a huge ‘regional inequality’ discrepancy between the country’s Northern and Southern cities and anxiety about the 1.7 million 15-17 year-old students currently not attending school.
Tackling the many issues causing bureaucratic rift between a government and the country’s academic institutions will understandably require patience, confidence, and several Ministries of Education entering and exiting office terms, but it’s the gradual cost necessary to make long-term reformation a reality. However, if Beyer, Mercadante and Latin America’s other representative candidates initiate a pledge to collectively start making a effort to fix higher education, then the entire region’s academic communities will be better served by their collaborations. Because after all, it’s not a true ‘reformation’ until the Ministers decide to play a leading part.