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A country without a flag is hostage to a humble present and a future without prospects

A country without a flag is hostage to a humble present and a future without prospects

In an article endorsed by Coalizão Ciência e Sociedade and published by Agência Bori, scholar Mercedes Bustamante (UnB) assesses the damage done to the present and future of Brazil by mismanagement and contempt for education and science in the areas of the federal government.

by *Mercedes Bustamante

On September 2, 2018, the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro was destroyed by a large fire that irreparably consumed most of its priceless collection. The museum, founded in 1818, is the oldest scientific institution in the country and one of the most important in the world. In addition to the loss of memory and unique knowledge, particularly about Latin America, the devastation in the National Museum compromised the generation of new knowledge through science.

Science is the practice that provides us with the most reliable explanations of nature, ourselves, our societies, and our physical and intellectual structures through different fields of knowledge. Actions and inaction that over the years have led to the tragic deterioration of the conditions of the National Museum until September 2, 2018 are recurring in scientific institutions across the country and have increased in the past three years. The contempt for education and science in the areas of federal power, on which lies misleading rhetoric and mismanagement, was fully manifested in the request of the Ministry of Economy to the Federal Senate, which led to a new cut in the resources of Brazilian science.

The sector has already been weakened by previous maneuvers that prevented access to the resources of the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT). The resources of the FNDCT, the destination of which is very clear in the name of the Fund, will ensure the survival of research and innovation projects and programmes, in particular the CNPq Global Notification, which supports all levels of the science and technology system. If the fire of the National Museum consumes our memory, the maneuver of the Ministry of Economy, which has been seized by the Senate, consumes our possibilities in building a nation based on a knowledge economy.

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It is impossible to assess the deterioration of the National Science and Technology System without also referring to the dismantling of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), an institution linked to the Ministry of Education responsible for evaluating and promoting graduate programs. in Brazil. Most of the scientific research in the country is conducted in public universities and within postgraduate programs by researchers, masters and doctoral students.

CAPES has played an essential role in expanding and consolidating postgraduate training. However, the scholarship and research programmes, which allow for the dedication of these young researchers, are increasingly constrained by resources and scholarship values ​​are outdated due to the lack of recent adjustments. Countless changes in management, with less qualified and less qualified managers for their jobs, have created instability and disagreements that have cast doubt on the support of graduate programs.

The historical study of the recent success of research has shown time and time again that basic knowledge, technology and innovation are inextricably linked to form a single, cohesive tapestry. Moreover, scientific and technological developments emerge from the knowledge resulting from the investments and contributions of many research groups over the years.

Due to their methodological nature, the main challenges facing Brazil at the national and international levels can only be addressed through a consistent and predictable investment in science and in the training of human resources with knowledge, skills and tools to deal with complex issues that have social dimensions. It is not only about sharing the products of science, but also its values ​​such as critical thinking, resilience in the face of uncertainty, and appreciation of knowledge.

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The short-sighted action of the Ministry of Economy in proposing to cut off the supplementary funds for Brazilian sciences, and the lack of interest or in-depth assessment by the Federal Senate of the dire consequences of this cut, make the country hostage to the average present and no future prospects.

*Mercedes Bustamante She is an UnB researcher and a member of the Science and Society Alliance. This article is approved by Science and Society Alliance

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