For the repeal of law 13.800



Considerations about the new secondary education and other MEC projects

The high school changes made in 2017, the regrettable NEM (new high school), is not an isolated project. It is part of a set of laws, initiated in the Temer government, which correspond to the creation of a teaching, education, science and technology system and decision-making related to these sectors, suited to a new country profile.

In October 2015, the then PMDB launched the document “A bridge to the future”, which contained the main guidelines for government actions, centered on the reduction of rights, including labor rights, on the reduction of the public sector through privatizations, on the reduction of taxes, the end of constitutional spending constraints (education and health, especially), the transfer of public interest decisions to the private sector, among many others. This document served to gather support from the economically dominant sectors for the 2016 coup and the overthrow of President Dilma Rousseff.

The project began to be implemented on the first day of the Temer period, May 12, 2016, with the merger of the Ministry of Science and Technology with the Ministry of Communication and the demotion of CNPq in the new ministerial structure. What followed was a huge reduction in the agency's budget, which, in real terms, quickly dropped to half or less of what it had been in the mid-2010s. This dismantling extended to Capes and the Fundo Nacional de Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT).

The total resources of these financing sources were reduced, in a few years and in real terms, to about a third of what they had been in 2015. This dismantling was maintained in the Bolsonaro period and, if not much intensified, because this enormous reduction of resources already it was enough, at least for now. This was the first aspect of building a new country project that, as we will see, is linked to others.

A second point to consider occurred at the end of September 2016, with provisional measure 746, which amended the Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education (LDB) and created the so-called New Secondary School. It is worth remembering that the elaboration of the 2016 LDB took many years and involved a large participation of society, while the Provisional Measure in question was converted into law in a few months and during a period of school holidays: in February 2017![1].

This speed in amending the Law of Guidelines and Bases was intended to prevent the necessary examination of the proposal by student, educational, scientific and academic entities and the evaluation of its consequences. There were very few, therefore, the manifestations of society. Thus was born the new secondary education, whose characteristics include: mandatory teaching of only Portuguese and mathematics in the second half of this educational cycle; the content provided for in the national curriculum base (the BNCC) cannot, by law, occupy more than 1.800 hours (a law that prohibits teaching more is really fantastic!); the creation of the figure of a teacher for notorious knowledge, a reputation recognized by the many education systems in the country based on practical activities, including in the private sector, with no requirement for a degree or even a higher education degree.

It took some time for society, especially students, to clearly perceive the practical consequences of the New Middle School (NEM). But, when perceived, especially the widening gap between public and private schools that this change provokes, society made its disagreement clear and students and educators took to the streets to fight.

The changes initiated in the Temer period continued in the Bolsonaro period, added to a strange collection of occupants of what should have been a ministry dedicated to education, and grotesque proposals, but following the same line of dismantling the public education system.

There is one more important point to sew with the other two. In January 2019, Law 13.800, enacted by Jair Bolsonaro, but created during the Temer period, allowed private entities to donate resources to public institutions, whose beneficiaries and purposes were defined only by them, regardless of the receiving institution. The donation of resources to institutions has never been prohibited; and what was at stake was not that; what was desired (and achieved) was to make such entities participate in decisions about the direction of public institutions.

Thus, it became possible for an entity to pay researchers and students to develop projects defined by that entity, regardless of evaluation by departmental councils, research commissions, congregations, university councils, etc. They may also participate in internal committees of public institutions. Consequently, with very few resources, these private entities (constituted as institutes or foundations) come to have great power in defining policies in the educational sector and in Universities and public research institutions.

Law 13.800 was presented to society as corresponding to the creation of philanthropic and disinterested actions. (The justification that was presented during the Temer period for the Provisional Measure that preceded the law is a seam of lies, half-truths and manipulations.[2]).[3] The presence of several private foundations in Universities increased enormously after this law and they started to have influence in strategic areas. It is easy to find them working in “partnership” with researchers, students and professors at public universities and in the preparation of projects together with public bodies.

These and many other actions result in a country weak in knowledge and, therefore, a country that can be manipulated, submissive. A country that only produces raw materials and supplies cheap labor, whose strategic decisions are taken by those people who will direct these activities, the owners and large shareholders of large companies.

If we want to have the chance to build a sovereign and independent country, we must fight not only for the repeal of the New Secondary School, but of the entire law 13417/2017, but also for the recovery of the agencies that promote Science & Technology and knowledge in general, for the repeal of the infamous law 13.800 and for the defeat of the entire project for a country built during the Temer and Bolsonaro period.

*Otaviano Helene is a senior professor at the Institute of Physics at USP.


[1] The changes to the LDB made by law 13.415, of February 2017, are at this address,

[2] “Law 13.800/2019: another problem?,

[3] MP 851, of September 2018, can be consulted at The justification, which appears on pages 21 and following, deserves to be read.

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