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The clash over the date of the National High School Exam (Enem) is shedding light on a structural and historical inequality in Brazil: access to education. The pandemic of the new coronavirus forced schools to adapt to a reality of distance learning unable to serve 39% of Brazilian households that still have no form of internet access, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

Faced with a scenario that has made the right to education even more unequal, students and student organizations are asking for the postponement of the dates of Enem’s printed exams, scheduled for November 1st and 8th. The appeal is based on the impact that the pandemic and distance classes will have on the preparation of students, especially low-income students, who in some cases do not even have access to the internet and technology resources outside the school environment.

The #AdiaEnem campaign is gaining momentum on social media, but is being ignored by the Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, who is adamant in his decision to keep the race schedule. “Even though Enem is a competition, as stated by the minister, all students deserve equal education and preparation to take the test”, highlights the text of a petition, which already brings together 26 thousand supporters so that the exam is postponed .

Professor Juan Colonna, who teaches at the Institute of Computing (IComp) of the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM), believes that the reality of the pandemic has further highlighted the inequality that exists in the country around access to education. “It is known that in Brazil the inequality is not new. In addition to being structural, it is historical. The government rarely takes into account the socioeconomic conditions of Brazilians, especially the most vulnerable groups, who are mostly affected the most ”, he comments.

In addition to considering that a portion of students are unable to access educational portals because they do not have a computer or broadband internet in their homes, Colonna warns of the psychological structure of young people most affected by the pandemic. “Who guarantees that students’ mental health will not be affected at the end of all this, especially for those who have had sick, deceased or unemployed parents? Will all students be able to take a test with pressure from Enem? ”, Asks the university professor.

Free internet in pandemic

It was thinking about a way to promote the democratization of knowledge in this pandemic period, when schools and universities are closed, that the professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering had the idea of ​​creating a mobilization asking the Federal Government, National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) and mobile operators to release online educational portals at no cost in the mobile data franchise.

The alternative devised by Colonna and supported by other teachers takes into account the fact that, although some Brazilians do not have a computer or broadband in their homes, 93.2% of households in the country have at least one cell phone, according to the PNAD Continuous Research ICT 2017, from IBGE. “We think that the use of cell phones would be more viable to continue promoting knowledge in a more equal way”, highlights the professor.

As well as the campaign for the postponement of Enem, the mobilization of the teacher is also done through a petition hosted on the Change.org platform. The petition, which to date has more than 24,000 signatures, is supported by more professors from UFAM, as well as from other institutions in the country, such as the Lutheran University of Brazil (ULBRA), Instituto Esperança de Ensino Superior (IESPES) and the Instituto Federal Catarinense, in addition to the students.

Colonna, who is also a researcher and advisor in the Graduate Program in Informatics (PPGI), is well aware of the reality of Brazilian students and knows how much this “contingency plan”, with free release to education portals of all education institutions education, would help to minimize the negative impacts of the lack of face-to-face classes.

“As a teacher, I follow daily the difficulties and efforts that many low and middle income students make to stay as long as possible inside the university in order to have access to resources, such as computers, quality internet, books, or an environment more appropriate than at home ”, he says. “The reality shows that these resources are not available to all students outside the university”, he adds. The situation is the same for high school students who will provide Enem and its schools.

The distance education model, imposed by the Covid-19 crisis, if it does not have an effective format that reaches all students and that has tools for interaction, discussion of doubts, availability of didactic material and monitoring of learning, can generate a negative impact on the training of students, as detailed by the teacher.

“The pandemic took everyone by surprise. Most institutions were not prepared to operate the distance education model, EAD. We know from experience that preparing a distance learning course takes a lot of time and extra work ”, explains Colonna. “We cannot be naive and think that quality distance education is done simply by recording video classes with a web camera”, completes the professor at UFAM.

In the view of the teacher, the access opened by mobile operators to educational portals would correct at least part of this problem. “We would still be far from having an ideal scenario, but we would achieve a middle ground solution, between the ‘ideal’ and ‘the possible’ at this point. Recalling that education is a right guaranteed by the Brazilian Federal Constitution, therefore a duty of the State, and, in the current context, an urgency! ”, He concludes.

The other side

Change.org contacted the Ministry of Education (MEC), Anatel and the main mobile phone operators in Brazil to find out if any plans are being developed to meet the demand of students who do not have internet access on the Internet. pandemic.

Regarding the Enem tests, the MEC press office informed that the dates will be kept. Regarding the concern with teaching students without internet access and the suggestion of an agreement with Anatel and the operators, the consultancy said that “there is no study” on the subject, highlighting the creation of an Emergency Operative Committee (COE) ), which adopted measures to mitigate the effects of coronavirus in the area of ​​education. No action by the COE, however, addresses the problem of connectivity.

“The application of the test without postponement will possibly benefit only some students who belong to a privileged class. I think that the exam should be postponed until all students have at least recovered their classes ”, says Professor Colonna, adding that it is no use just postponing the exam without the students having enough time to recover and replace the content was given. According to him, free access to educational portals would contribute to this preparation.

Anatel sent a note saying that “there are already several initiatives, among providers, of free access to government applications, such as those necessary for health information and access to social benefits. Although, so far, initiatives to access educational content have not been announced, Anatel understands the importance of this type of initiative, which must be negotiated between providers and the different actors involved in the process at the municipal, state and federal levels ”, says excerpt from the statement.

Vivo reported that the Telefônica Vivo Foundation reinforced access to its digital education platforms for free, with content for teachers, parents and students interested in complementing the curriculum. In addition, it announced the realization of a partnership between Vivo Empresas and the Nove de Julho University (Uninove) for free distribution of mobile internet with a 5GB deductible per month to the students of the institution’s on-site courses and teachers, whose rules of use are part of of a specific term.

Regarding providing free access to educational portals, both Vivo, Tim and Oi forwarded the demand to the National Union of Telephone and Mobile and Personal Mobile Service Companies (SindiTelebrasil). Claro did not respond until the closing of this matter.

“To make distance learning feasible, companies have been closing partnerships with state and municipal governments, offering sponsored internet at a cost per mega-trafficked price, allowing students to access the pedagogical content provided by educational institutions”, informs note sent by SindiTelebrasil .

“The [telecommunications] sector demands high investments and operating costs for the proper operation, maintenance and provision of services, and any imposing measure, without a careful, technical and aligned analysis, can have an impact on the continuity of services. We understand that a more perennial and comprehensive solution must involve coordinated public policy action, considering the use of resources from sectorial telecommunications funds ”, concludes the union’s statement.

Source: Carta Capital.

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