By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, announced on Thursday (November 22nd) the nomination of the Colombian-born philosopher Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, as the country’s new Education Minister. Rodríguez is currently professor emeritus at the ECEME (Brazil’s Army Command College) in Rio de Janeiro.
“I would like to inform everyone of Ricardo Velez Rodriguez, philosopher, author… for the position of Minister of Education,” said Bolsonaro in his social media account.
“Velez is a Professor of Philosophy, Master in Brazilian Thought from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, PhD in Luso-Brazilian Thought from Gama Filho University and a PostDoc from the Raymond Aron Center for Policy Research in Paris, with extensive teaching experience and manager,” concluded the president-elect.
With the motto, “More Brazil, less Brasilia” the future Education Minister promises to prioritize the education system at the municipal level.
“I will focus, for the MEC (Ministry of Education), in a policy that follows the sound proposals of the educators of the generation of Anísio Teixeira, who saw the basic and fundamental education system as a service to be offered by the municipalities, who would gradually formulate the laws that make teaching functions feasible,” he said in early November in his blog.
In Rodriguez’ opinion the federal and state would simply be auxiliary variables to the municipalities, that usually lack resources. As a professor, Rodriguez has criticized the annual National High School Exam (Enem), given to the majority students in their last year of high school and used as an entrance exam to federally funded universities.
In line with the president-elect’s views, Rodriguez argues that the tests are complicated and function more as ‘instruments of ideologization than as sensible means to evaluate the knowledge of young people in the education system’.
He has also criticized the left-wing ideologies he says are being taught in Brazilian primary, secondary and universities. Like Bolsonaro he supports the controversial Escola Sem Partido (Schools Without Political Parties) program.
After graduating with a philosophy and theology degree from a university in Bogoto, Colombia, Rodriguez came to Brazil to obtain his graduate degrees.
The future minister holds a master’s degree in Brazilian Thought from the Rio de Janeiro’s Catholic University (PUC-RJ); a PhD in Luso-Brazilian Thought from Universidade Gama Filho; and a Postdoctoral fellow by the Raymond Aron Center for Policy Research.
He went back to Colombia between 1975-1978 to become Pro-Rector of Post-Graduation and Research at the University of Medellín, before returning to Brazil to set up permanent residency, in 1979.
Since then he has taught at universities in Rio de Janeiro, Londrina and Juiz de Fora, and participated in the creation of postgraduate courses in Brazilian Political Thinking.