|No 59 Em Português|
Ms. Avani Caggiano and Aprova Brasil (*)
Carlos Feu Alvim
The evaluation of the public primary schools carried out by INEP/MEC and the analysis of the successful cases made by MEC and UNICEF (see http://www.unicef.org.br ) have produced some surprises as a whole, such as the poor performance of São Paulo (the richest Brazilian state) schools. They have also produced some particular surprises when they identified island of excellence in unsuspected places in the country. The System wanted to know the cause of success of these schools and evaluated what made them different.The most important item was the teacher (32 in 33 schools).
I belong to the generation when fundamental education in Brazil was almost entirely public and free, as it continues to be in almost all developed countries and in those that are attaining development. Due to family circumstances (my father was employee of Banco do Brasil), I attended primary school (the four first years in fundamental school) in towns almost isolated in the countryside (one year in Patos de Minas and three in Irati, Paraná). In the latter, a large school served almost all of the local children. The white apron even out the clothes of different social classes and the difference was restricted to the shoes (or the lack of).
On the average, I had good teachers. Due to special circumstances, in part connected with an evaluation similar to the present one, D. Avani Caggiano became for me the symbol of the dedicated and competent teacher that made a difference in my long student life.
As I remember, the state schools (including some private ones) participated in an evaluation(carried out in Curitiba) at the municipal, regional (in the case of Ponta Grossa) and state levels. It was the so called Educational (or Knowledge?) Marathon sponsored by the state Savings Bank (Caixa Econômica). The Duque de Caxias School got the first and second prizes in 1954 (the competition was by grade) at the regional level. A student of D. Avani got the first prize in Curitiba.
When I saw the results of the present contest I imagined that perhaps there are in this huge Brazil others D. Avani and I can imagine a boost to teachers, parents and students of this humble school that became prominent in “Prova Brasil” and perhaps they have never imagined that they could be compared with (let alone outdo) schools from richer places with more resources.
D. Avani was not, as usual at that time, a daughter from a middle class family that had the only profession that was then permitted. She belonged to a proletarian family, married to a modest tailor and her salary was certainly important for the support of the family.
Like some students and teachers, we brought a snack from home and part of the interval between classes we chatted while we ate. It was a time of controversial politics and I repeated the udenistas “truths” that was a consensus in my traditional family from Minas Gerais. Getulio was a dictator, corrupt and a demagogue. Without opposing me, D. Avani told me about the importance of things he had done for people like those of her family, the Getulio of social security and minimum wage, of the President who supported workers. Naturally she did not convince me but perhaps to understand what she said I listened Getulio deliver his speech to the “Brazilian workers” on the official broadcast on the First of May of that year. I continued to read, with unusual interest considering my age (10 years) the articles about the “sea of mud” that involved the Presidency (Catete) and later about his personal guard that would have assassinated o Major Vaz in an attempt to murder the journalist Carlos Lacerda. When Getulio “quit life to go down in History”, I was sincerely sorry for her in the loss of her President.
D. Avani was the kind of teacher who taught not only everything she knew but she also tried to remove the doubts of her students. She had not ready and evasive answers, she looked for solutions and stimulated her students to do it. I remember that I often looked for at home (in the encyclopedia that few people had) an answer for the unresolved questions.
In one of these chats we found out together why the experiment regarding the Gravesand Ring had failed: it was possible to pass a metallic ball through the ring but only after heating it. The practical demonstration had failed, we had concluded, because both the ring and the ball had been heated and so both the ring and the ball had expanded. The school did not have the equipment and she insisted until the science teacher borrowed such an equipment. As we have supposed by heating only the ring, the ball did pass through it but not when both were heated.
My father was transferred and Irati lingered on in my memory. One day I wanted to get in touch with her again and I sent a letter addressed to Teacher Avani Caggiano, Irati, Paraná. I trusted in her prestige as a teacher and the letter was delivered. I learned that she deserved my good memories: with effort she graduated in mathematics, her children were at the university and she continued, in another level, her teaching engagement that would never extinguish this flame that makes teaching more than a simple profession.
Resuming “Prova” and “Aprova Brasil”. It should be mentioned that they have at least the following merits: the former continued the evaluation process started in the previous Administration, the latter investigates what has worked and tries to understand the causes of this surprising success. I am one of those who believe that we have much to learn from our apparently few rights than from our many wrongs.
On New Year’s Day I heard President Lula say that 60% of the FUNDEB resources will be used to improve the salaries and graduation of teachers and that “If Brazil is to have education of real quality, it will be necessary well-remunerated teachers, with solid professional formation, adequate working conditions and permanent updating”.
Beginning of the year and a new Administration, it is worthwhile to insist on D. Avani hopes and her students would certainly thank for the idea that the teacher is important and this importance should have a concrete acknowledgment.
(*) A study developed by the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) that evaluated learning in more than 40 thousand public schools all over the country.
 Adherents to the União Democrática Nacional (UDN), a conservative party..
Graphic Edition/Edição Gráfica:
Thursday, 05 May 2011.