The objectives set by the plan are mere “expressions of desire”says the document of the National Roundtable for Educational Quality (MeNaCe), pointing to the lack of proposals and clear indications to achieve the series of goals elaborated by the Ministry of Education.
On April 21 last, presented the Five Year Education Plancontained in a document entitled “Educational Strategic Guidelines for the Argentine Republic 2022-2027. For a fair, democratic and quality education”. It is a series of school goals for 2023, 2025 and 2027 set by the Government and endorsed by all the provinces.
Improving graduation rates from the system and certifying learning are some of the objectives. The goals are detailed by levels, namely: that 75% of the boys have access to a room of 3 and 95% to a room of 4; that in 2023, 60% of primary schools have extended hours, 80% in 2025 and 100% in 2027; in secondary school, lower the dropout rate and raise the promotion and graduation rate to 88.98%; build 1,674 schools in the next 5 years and improve learning in core subjects, among others.
Shortly after going through a national emergency and a record number of classroom closures, “a Five-Year Education Plan arrives that intends to solve in the short term the impact of said emerging, without being honest about the growing and sustained deterioration of our educational quality, already preceding the pandemic”, says the document in which MeNaCe analyzes the guidelines prepared by the Ministry.
This national network of teachers, coordinated by Liana Pividori from Santa Fe, was created at the beginning of this school year, at the initiative of teachers of all levels and from all over the country, self-summoned to deal with the school crisis and fight for the quality of teaching.
In this sense, they point out the “shortcomings” of the content of the Plan “because full classrooms do not guarantee education”. MeNaCe points to the improvisation that can be guessed behind the text, “a plan that far from showing a thorough and responsible planning work, being that our education has been in crisis for years and is about to collapse”.
question a misleading plural -”…today we have managed to reach a consensus…”, says the document, for example- and in MeNaCe they ask themselves: “Which actors does ‘we’ involve? We are not aware that teachers were consulted in the development of the plan”.
Instead of a rigorous document based on a clear and honest diagnosis, come “a vague statement (at best) of expressions of desire that they do not even manage to function as a ‘bandage’ that heals the deep wounds of our educational system”.
“The only clear guideline is the strong intention of keeping students in school (but) no clues are offered as to how they plan to deal with the collapse of our educational quality -MeNaCe points out-. They insist, almost like a prayer, with the words inclusion, equity and quality, in what we understand as a bastardization of the ideas they express. MeNaCe points out. Said guidelines only point to inclusion as a mechanism for schooling rates to increase, to equity as the massive granting of accreditations and graduation degrees, and to quality as the podium of an announced success”.
They also denounce that “the actions promoted by this Five-Year Plan are based on misleading indicators”, qualified as such because “It is known that, due to ministerial decisions, repetition is avoided and students spend the year taking up to six subjects”. That is, they put graduation goals “without any correlation with effective learning and, therefore, without improving the quality of education”.
Another complaint points to the fact that “today there are proliferating mechanisms by which those who remain in our schools simply promote and graduate, without achieving basic abilities and skills.”
“Today, fairness is the sad oppression of constant leveling down in a free fall that seems to have no end”, they add, alluding to the pressure on teachers to certify non-acquired knowledge; a pressure that was accentuated after the long quarantine when, knowing that in many schools the planned curricular goals were not met, a generalized promotion and greater facilitation mechanisms for passing from one level to another were decreed.
“The quality is just an empty word in the speech repertoire of our demagogues”, they sentence.
For a “real fulfillment” of learning, “one must start with an honest diagnosis that face the numbers of our reality”, a reality that indicates that “few of the students who complete the cycles of compulsory education, read and understand, express themselves with autonomy orally or in writing, have calculation tools that allow them to solve problems of daily life, manage to locate themselves on a map, have some unbiased socio-historical knowledge or some citizen training free of indoctrination or are trained to enter the world of work.
What is the use of more time in school if we are not able to take advantage of it properly and if we do not talk about recovering study habits and if the effort is not recognized?
Indeed, in what almost seems like a confession on the part, The Five-Year Plan says: “The right to education from a comprehensive perspective means not only attending to access and transit through the system, but also guaranteeing teaching and learning situations that account for significant processes for the subjects…”
“All the national evaluation operations show alarming statistics of backwardness and educational deterioration. This is not new, so why, instead of empty statements, are solutions not listed for an well-known problem?”, they point out.
“Is the challenge of Argentine education quality or numbers that embellish false statistics? What good can more time in school be if we fail to make the most of school time? When will there be talk of recovering study habits and recognition of effort?
When will we stop distracting ourselves with knowledge such as comprehensive sexual education and comprehensive environmental education, which are very important, but do not take precedence over the knowledge that students really need?
And they point against the displacement of programs towards secondary content, a characteristic accentuated in recent times to inadmissible extremes: “When will we stop distracting ourselves with knowledge such as comprehensive sexual education and comprehensive environmental education, that are very important, but that do not take precedence over the knowledge needed by students hit today by the educational crisis and the post-pandemic and by our adults of the future to be free?”
Another criticized point of the Plan is the one referring to teacher training: “Improving graduation rates in national teacher training institutes” is the stated goal. “Only reference is made to egress, but there is no mention of the conditions of ‘entry’ -today unrestricted- of students, future teachers”, MeNaCe says.
“What concrete actions is the Ministry going to devise to ‘enable quality educational processes’? What do you understand by educational quality? By what mechanisms will significant learning be verified? Do you learn by osmosis, just because you stay in the educational system What ‘must’ guarantee the promotion? And if they don’t learn, what happens? Is it promoted in the same way?”, are other questions for which the Plan has no answers, according to MeNaCe.
More generally, they point to the the need to “uninstall the facilism of the school culture” and “provide solutions to the innumerable causes of true violation of the right to learn.”
The document it also stands out for what it does not name, such as the word “demand”, which does not appear even once in the Plan.
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Harsh teacher criticism of the Five-Year Education Plan: “Very poor, insubstantial, vague statements and empty words”