The Ministry of Education (MEC) created on Wednesday (March 20th) a three-person commission to assess the national exam whose scores are used to get in a university, known as ENEM – High School National Exam. The three-part group was assembled with a former student of the Ministry of Education, Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, who will be granted a maximum security clearance to oversee the questions designed for the exam in order to “verify the pertinence in regards to the social reality as to ensure a consensual profile for the exam”, according to Vélez.
The commission would have ten days to file a report selecting those questions that will be able to remain and those that will not. The MEC, however, denies it is a censorship act.
If the group agrees a question should be erased, Paulo Cesar Teixeira, Inep’s director for Elementary Education Assessment (Institute for Educational Studies and Research) and a team of Inep’s experts could still disagree on the matter. To break the deadlock, the case would be forwarded to Inep’s president, Marcus Vinícius Rodrigues, who would be in charge of a casting vote. Teixeira has connections with the Catholic Church and Rodrigues was a name appointed by the Military.
The Commission members are Marco Antônio Barroso Faria, former student of Vélez and currently secretary of Regulation and Supervision of College Education in MEC; an Inep’s representative, Antônio Maurício Castanheira das Neves; and a civil society representative, Gilberto Callado de Oliveira, official at the Santa Catarina’s Prosecutors Office, who is also appointed by Vélez.
President Bolsonaro has been critical of past versions of ENEM, and, since 2018 when a question inquired on a LGBT dialect called panjubá, he declared he would himself evaluate the exam before hands.
In an interview to a Catholic Church magazine, Callado declared that there is an ideological enterprise within the country’s intellectual community. “The reasons are different, but I emphasize the ideological contamination in universities, which have been molding lawyers and politicians with increasingly liberal and left-wing inclination” he said.
Barroso Faria graduated in Philosophy and has a PhD in Science of Religion supervised by Vélez at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, in Minas Gerais. Castanheira is a psychologist, with a doctorate in Philosophy and is currently a director at Inep.
According to the Inep ordinance, the commission members will sign a Confidentiality Agreement on what they will see in the place where the ENEM’s questions are held. To access the area, inside Inep’s headquarters, it is necessary to go through a body scanner, leave cell phones outside and have clearance.
One of the names to have been appointed was Murilo Resende, who is now an advisor at MEC. He was designated as head of Inep’s board, responsible for ENEM, but after a negative repercussion, he was driven out.
Estado de São Paulo newspaper learned that Inep did not want Resende in the commission and so he ended up being left out. In a public hearing at the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2016 on “Political-Party Indoctrination in the Educational System” he ranted that Brazilian teachers are disqualified and manipulative, trying to steal family power by practicing “gender ideology”. Resende also has no experience in assessment.
When he was first appointed to the position at Inep he had MP Eduardo Bolsonaro’s, the president’s son, support. Eduardo argued that “under the aegis of people of the lineage of Murilo Resende, students would no longer need to know about feminism, languages other than the Portuguese language, or History according to the Left ideology”.
Enem has 180 questions and will be held this year on November 3rd and 10th. The questions are compiled by professors from federal universities and then go through a preliminary assessment to check the effectiveness of the selection of candidates.
Last year, 6 million people went through the exam. ENEM is a selection process to get into public and private universities across the country.
*This article was originally published in Portuguese by newspaper Estado de São Paulo