The National Association of Postgraduate Studies in Philosophy (ANPOF) and associations hereby signed vehemently repudiate declarations made by the President and the Minister of Education on teaching and researching in the area of Humanities, more specifically Philosophy and Sociology.
The statements issued by the Minister and President reveal ignorance on these areas of study, their relevance, costs, their audience and the very nature of universities. This ignorance, which is irrelevant in the case of the society at large, is unacceptable in those persons people who occupy, even if for a limited time peridos, public functions that are so important for schools and universities´s formation, academic research in general and the very future of our country.
Minister Abraham Weintraub declared he will withdraw funds from the Philosophy and Sociology courses, arguing that they are for “those who are already rich people: the elite”, to rather invest “in those schools that generate real returns: nursing, veterinary, engineering and medicine.” The Minister supported his statement alleging that Japan is currently making the same policy shift.
In fact, however, in June 2015 the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology sent a letter to Japanese universities recommending that strategic areas should be prioritized and that investments in the Humanities and Social Sciences should be cut off.
After a strong reaction from the country’s top universities, including those based in Tokyo and Kyoto (the only Japanese universities listed amongst the top 100 in the world), but also the Keidanren (Japan’s Federation of Industries), which argued that “university students must acquire a specialized understanding of their field of knowledge and, equally importantly, cultivate an understanding of social and cultural diversity through diverse learnings and experiences”, the government backed down and declared that it had been misunderstood. The proposal was completely abandoned when the Minister of Education had to step down from office, still in 2015, under the suspicion of corruption. The way in which Minister Abraham Weintrab has presented the case is, therefore, fake news.
The Minister was followed by the President, who claimed that the government “will decentralize investments in Philosophy courses” without specifying what this means, but making it clear that this implies suspending public investements to courses in the Humanities, namely Philosophy and Sociology. The President pointed out that investments in these courses constitute a ” disrespect to the taxpayer’s contribution” and, contrary to what the Federation of Industries of Japan might think, argued that the function of education is teaching on how to read, write, make accounts and learn a profession that t generates income.
The Minister and the President ignore the nature of knowledge in the Humanities and exhibit a narrow view on education when supposing that nurses, veterinarians, engineers, and physicians should not learn about their own social context or ethics, for example, in order make adequate and morally justified decisions in their field of action. The Minister and the President also ignore the fact that students in public universities, and especially in the Humanities, are predominantly from the lowest income classes of the population. Finally, when suggesting the arbitrary closure of these undergraduate courses, they ignore the principle of autonomy of the universities that is guaranteed by the Connstitution.
One of the greatest contributions of the Humanities is the systematic contestation of narrow visions of reality and to provoke reflections and a plurality of perspectives, which are indispensable to cultural and social development and to the construction of more just and creative societies.
We will continue to fight against the attacks directed at Public Universities and the courses of in theare of Humanities that are driven by resentment, ignorance and obscurantism, because we believe that this is a capital contribution of the Humanities to the improvement of society around us.
Brazilian Association of Teaching of Social Sciences (ABECS)
National Association of Postgraduate and Research in Geography (ANPEGE)
National Association of Postgraduate and Research in Urban and Regional Planning (ANPUR)
Brazilian Society of Film and Audiovisual Studies (SOCINE)
Brazilian Society of History of Education (SBHE)
Brazilian Society of History of Science (SBHC)
National Association of Postgraduate and Research in Education (ANPEd)
Brazilian Association of Social Studies of Sciences and Technologies (ESOCITE)
Latin Union of Political Economy of Information, Communication and Culture (Ulepicc-Brasil)
National Association of History (ANPUH)
Center for Philosophical Research (CIF / Argentina)
Brazilian Society of Psychology (SBP)
National Forum of Directors of Colleges, Education Centers or Equi