Understanding the Judicialization of the Evaluation of Graduate Education in Brazil
The disdain that Brazil's Federal Government has for science is widely known. In this context, it is not surprising that graduate education in Brazil, which is responsible for a high percentage of the country’s scientific output, is currently in a state of extreme crises. Although the crisis covers several dimensions, that which this talk focuses upon concerns the evaluation of all graduate programs in the country, conducted over four-year intervals by the Agency for Improving Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), a foundation linked to the Ministry of Education that has existed for more than 70 years. Contrary to what is commonly believed, the said crises is legal rather than a political nature, and it has profound implications not only for CAPES, but also for the future of most large-scale educational evaluations in the country, The talk begins by providing background information about the CAPES evaluation approach, which has been developed over a 40 year period with ample participation and support on the part of the Brazilian academic community. It then discusses the origins, repercussions and potential impacts of a judicialization process led by the Federal Prosecutors Office that seeks to significantly alter the logic, structure and procedure of the CAPES evaluation system in a manner that, in the speaker’s opinion, can seriously undermine large-scale efforts to monitor and improve the quality of education in Brazil.
Robert (Bob) Verhine is Full Professor of Education at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and CAPES Coordinator for the Area of Education. He is also the member of the CAPES’ Scientific and Technical Council (CTC) and, in recent years, has headed special CAPES commissions dealing with program self-evaluation and with distance education on the graduate level. In the past, he has served as Vice Provost (Pró-Reitor) for research and graduate study at UFBA, as Scientific Director of the Bahia’s Research Foundation (FAPESB). and as the President of the National Commission for Higher Education Evaluation (CONAES). He is also a founding member and past Vice President of the Brazilian Association of Educational Evaluation (ABAVE), and, most proudly, is a Senior Fellow of the Lemann Center at Stanford University. Professor Verhine holds a BA in Economics from UCSB, a MA in Latin American Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Hamburg (Germany). His areas of specialization include the economics of education, comparative education, and educational evaluation (especially as related to higher education).