The Brazilian government on Thursday (Sep 5) launched the National Civic-Military Schools Program—Pecim in the original acronym—aimed at improving the quality of basic education. A total of 216 such schools are expected to be implemented across the country by 2023.
Civic-military schools are non-militarized institutions with retired military agents as tutors. In July, the Ministry of Education had announced the implementation of 108 schools in this model. The target has been doubled.
Education Minister Abraham Weintraub noted that these schools have higher-than-average performance and will be the tool to improve education in Brazil. The challenge, he said, is to have ten percent of all Brazilian schools in the civic-military model by the end of Bolsonaro’s term of office.
“Families feel safer after taking their children to these schools; the environment is safer; the camaraderie among classmates is better; I’ve become an admirer of this model,” the minister said.
Discipline and performance
The good performance of civic-military schools is linked to students’ discipline, Bolsonaro argued. “You’ve got to put the importance of civic-military values into these kids’ heads the way it was during the military regime—moral and civic education, respect for the flag,” he said.
In his address during the launch ceremony, Bolsonaro said that what pulls a nation out of misery and poverty is knowledge, adding that Brazil has a great potential to be explored.
The military will work on discipline, strengthening ethical and moral values, in school administration and infrastructure and organization enhancement. Pedagogy and teaching will still be left for teachers and educators, and their tasks and duties will be respected, according to the Ministry of Education.
The move will prioritize regions with higher social vulnerability and a low Basic Education Development Index. Goals include improving school environment, tackling violence, and reducing the number of drop-outs and failing students.
States and cities are given a choice to join the initiative. Authorities are expected to conduct public consultations, with the school community being heard and choosing to adopt the change.
In the president’s view, however, the implementation of civic-military schools should be imposed. He mentioned the Federal District, where the model was adopted in four schools in collaboration with the Military Police. “I saw that some neighborhoods held a vote and it wasn’t accepted. I’m sorry, it won’t be a matter of accepting or not. It must be imposed. I don’t want kids out there to grow up and have to rely on welfare programs,” he added.
Fifty-four schools will be benefited by the program in its pilot phase, two in each state. School will be selected by state officials by September 27. Schools must have 500 to a thousand students from 6th to 9th grade and/or in high school.
The Defense Ministry will name retired agents from the Armed Forces to work as tutors. They will be hired for up to ten years and earn 30 percent of the pay they received before retiring. The states may also send officers and firefighters to help with school administration.
Some $250 thousand is likely to be invested in each school, as per estimates from the Ministry of Education. These funds will be put towards paying the agents, and improving infrastructure and school material.