|Dilma inaugurando creche ao lado do prefeito|
Antes de qualquer coisa é necessário esclarecer um ponto importante. É comum no Brasil as pessoas confundirem universidades americanas particulares famosas como Yale ou Columbia com universidades brasileiras particulares, quando na verdade trata-se de duas coisas completamente diferentes. As universidades privadas brasileiras funcionam como as universidades "for-profit", que são geridas como negócios que distribuem dividendos aos seus acionistas ao fim do ano. A mais famosa [infame] dessas universidades é a University of Phoenix. Elas cresceram muito desde os anos 90 e entraram em crise com a crise econômica. Aqui um trecho bem informativo:
"... in 1998 Ashford University had just three hundred students; it was taken over by Bridgepoint Education Inc, and by 2008 boasted 77,000 students, nearly all online. Bridgepoint was described by the Senate committee’s chairman as a ‘scam’, still collecting profits despite having drop-out rates of 63 per cent for Bachelor’s degrees and 84 per cent for Associate degrees.
The biggest player in this market is the University of Phoenix, owned by the Apollo Group. UoP claims to be North America’s largest university: at its peak in 2010 it was said to have some 600,000 students and annual revenue in excess of $4 billion (in October 2012, it announced plans to close 115 campuses owing to a drastic drop in its profits). The Senate investigation showed that 60 per cent of Apollo students dropped out within two years, while of those who completed their course, 21 per cent defaulted on paying back their loans within three years of finishing. It also revealed that 89 per cent of Apollo’s revenue comes from federal student loans and that it spends twice as much on marketing as on teaching. A lawsuit filed in 2003 alleged that UoP had wrongfully obtained at least $3 billion of federal student aid; in 2009 the Apollo Group agreed to pay $78.5 million to settle the suit, in one of the largest pay-for-performance compensation settlements ever reached. After a separate investigation in 2004, the Apollo Group paid about $10 million in fines to the US Department of Education, which had criticised UoP’s admissions practices: recruiters, for example, were paid bonuses depending on the numbers they signed up. A parallel investigation by the Huffington Post of another ‘private provider’, Educational Management Corporation, found that after it was taken over by Goldman Sachs, its recruiters were issued with scripts ‘which instructed them to find potential applicants’ “pain” so as to convince them that college might be a solution to their struggles’."
A frase final que descreve o treinamento dos recrutadores é bem significativa: identifique o que mais machuca/dói/incomoda na vida atual dos potenciais alunos e convença esses pobres coitados que a solução está em entrar numa faculdade online da University of Phoenix.
A resenha na realidade centra atenção na Inglaterra e em recentes mudanças na área de educação no país. Nem por isso Stefan Collini toca em vários assuntos importantes que têm relevância urgente no Brasil. Por exemplo, quando ele expõe em números o relativo desinteresse do estado em investir em educação e a decisão de tampar o buraco com a participação da iniciativa privada, que só aparece quando sente o cheiro de lucro polpudo:
"Many of the financial problems faced by UK higher education date back to the shocking underfunding of university expansion in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Dearing Report found that ‘public funding per student for higher education had declined from a value of 100 in 1976 and 79 in 1989 to 60 in 1994.’ That is, it nearly halved in just 18 years. The damage has never been fully repaired: between 1979 and 2011 student numbers increased by 320 per cent while public expenditure on higher education rose by only 165 per cent. Roger Brown, scarcely given to rabble-rousing, concludes: ‘In effect, market-based policies have partly compensated for – and even been a (deliberate?) distraction from – a failure to consistently invest an appropriate proportion of national wealth in higher education.’"
E a dominação por parte do Senhor Mercado tem consequências, na minha opinião, trágicas para a educação:
"The international evidence of improvement of standards as a result of increased marketisation is, to say the least, mixed. As Brown notes, it ‘may also damage quality by commodifying knowledge, creating or reinforcing student “instrumentality”, and lowering standards through grade inflation, and the acceptance of plagiarism and other forms of cheating. It may also lead to a diversion of resources away from learning and teaching to activities like marketing, enrolment, student aid and administration (and in the US, athletics).’ "
Quando o conhecimento se transforma em mercadoria, quando a razão instrumental toma conta da educação, a educação já não serve para ensinar a pensar criticamente. E se for para ensinar a obedecer e a reproduzir o mundo em que vivemos, é melhor ficar em casa.