What is Fundeb, an essential fund for education that will have a crucial vote in Congress

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The continuity of a fund that moves R $ 150 billion in public money annually should go to a vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday (07/20), directly influencing the functioning of thousands of schools in Brazil – from early childhood education to the high school – and amid intense debates about the origin and destination of resources.

Fundeb (Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Education) came into force in 2007 and, only last year, accounted for about R $ 6.5 of each R $ 10 invested in Brazilian public schools.

However, the legislation that established Fundeb also determined that it should remain in effect until December 31, 2020, that is, if it is not renewed in the coming months, it will be extinguished.

This extinction, say education analysts, would cause chaos in the funding of public schools, because there would be no guarantee of money to pay from teachers and staff to school transport.

That is why its discussion in the National Congress, which has been taking place since 2019, is considered the most urgent topic of education this year.

And the vote takes place in the midst of three aggravating factors: the coronavirus pandemic, which mobilized attention and reduced economic activity and tax collection; the fact that the legislative year is compromised, in this second semester, by municipal elections; and as it is a Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC 15/2015), Fundeb needs to be endorsed by a large number of parliamentarians. In practice, it has to be approved by three-fifths of deputies and senators, in two rounds of voting in the House and Senate.

But the main clash in Fundeb’s approval concerns who should pay for the fund’s R $ 150 billion annually.


Voting project can create quality parameters for schools and avoid precariousness, says expert

The origin of money

Today, 90% of Fundeb’s resources come from taxes collected at the state and municipal levels, and the other 10% come from the federal government – a share considered unfair by states and municipalities, since, in general, most taxes are collected by the Union.

“It is an upside-down model: States and municipalities are the ones that directly serve 45 million students, but the tax concentration remains with the Union”, criticizes the federal deputy Professor Dorinha Seabra Rezende (DEM-TO) to BBC News Brasil , rapporteur for the PEC in the Chamber.

Initially, the proposal under discussion predicted that the Union’s contribution would gradually rise from the current 10% to 40% of Fundeb’s total, relieving states and municipalities, but this met with enormous resistance in the government’s economic wing, in Congress and among defenders of fiscal policy. more rigid.


Dorinha Rezende, deputy rapporteur of the project, says that more resources from the Union are needed because it is this body that concentrates the tax collection

At the time, then Education Minister Abraham Weintraub withdrew government support for the proposal, saying it “hurt the fiscal balance” and was not “solvent in the long run”.

His ministry even said that he would present his own proposal to Fundeb, which never happened.

After negotiations, the PEC project lowered the required percentage of the Union to a maximum of 20% by 2026, but starting from a level of 15% (instead of the original 10%) as of 2021.

Due to the pandemic, new negotiations took place. The level for 2021 was lowered to 12.5%, and gradually continued to reach 20% until 2026.

“It is a very crying complement to the Union, and it would need to be much greater, for the money to reach more cities. Because some poor cities will be left out (of the resource pool), and States and municipalities will continue to put more money “, says Dorinha Rezende.

The text, however, continues to encounter resistance in the government. The Ministry of Economy, led by Paulo Guedes, argues that there is not enough money to increase the Union’s participation.

In March, in a videoconference with mayors, Guedes defended the extension of Fundeb in the current format, instead of the approval of the new PEC.


States and municipalities bear most of the fund; project foresees an increase in the Union’s participation in

“We could exceptionally renew Fundeb exactly as it is today for two or three years so that any excess money can be sent to health,” said Guedes, according to a report in the newspaper O Globo.

Recently, also according to the newspaper, the economic team started to defend that the eventual expansion of Fundeb’s resources, if approved in Congress, will help to finance Renda Brasil, a minimum income program that would expand Bolsa Família. This would also depend on the approval of legislators.

The Mayor, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), said that the text put to the vote “has a lot of unity, and I think we will move forward”, according to Agência Brasil. The vote was scheduled to start on the 14th, but it was on the 20th. “The government asked us to build the conditions so that the new minister (of Education, not yet installed) could participate in the debate,” said Maia.

For Dorinha Rezende, however, the increase in transfers to education is necessary because Brazil still spends little per capita with its students.

In addition, says the deputy, “now we will need to spend more in the post-pandemic: dividing classrooms, hiring more teachers, receiving students from private schools (who were no longer able to pay tuition). And much of that is in the hands of municipalities, the weakest link (of the Executive Branch) “.

According to the most recent School Census, half of Brazilian schools have no sewage system.

Dorinha Rezende argues that the Union’s additional resources come, for example, from royalties from oil exploration, which already have education as their original destination.

Resource distribution

One of Fundeb’s objectives is to reduce the inequality of resources in education, complementing the budget of poorer municipalities that are unable to invest enough in their education networks.

The project being voted on in the Chamber institutes, in addition to changes in the origin of funds, changes in the way they are distributed. For example, changing the money ties and making the transfers depend on the individual situation of each municipality, and not only on the state where it is located. This would help, for example, poor municipalities in wealthier states.


Fundeb moves R $ 150 billion a year to finance Brazilian schools

Currently, of each R $ 1 in the fund, 60 cents are used to pay teachers, in order to guarantee teacher appreciation. The rest is used for maintenance and school equipment and payments by other education professionals.

A discussion revolves around increasing this slice from 60 to 70 cents of each real, but spreading this money to all education professionals, and not just to teachers – which, in practice, may result in less resources for teacher appreciation. .

If kept as it is, the project can bring at least an additional R $ 14 billion per year to public education and permanently create minimum criteria for quality public schools, avoiding their precariousness, argues Daniel Cara, professor at the Faculty of Education at USP and a member of the National Campaign for the Right to Education organization.

The organization is an advocate of the project being voted on in the Chamber and asks for it to be voted quickly, to reduce the chances of being out of character by economic pressures.

Within this whole debate, education experts complain about what they see as a timid participation or absence from the top level of the Ministry of Education in the discussions. The portfolio is about to have its fourth minister in the Bolsonaro government – the president announced Milton Ribeiro on July 10 for the command of the MEC.

Deputy Dorinha Rezende says that in the management of Abraham Weintraub “Fundeb was never given priority”, but that the participation of the ministry will be important especially in the regulation phase of the fund, if the PEC is approved.

Consulted by the report, the MEC staff said that “the MEC Executive Secretariat and the National Education Development Fund have actively participated in the technical discussions related to Novo Fundeb. Last year, suggestions were made to the PEC 15/2015 Rapporteur, with considerations about necessary measures for the improvement of public educational policy. Currently, in addition to the issues related to the model of the new Fund, to be inserted in the Federal Constitution, the MEC has been dedicated to collecting the information and indicators necessary for the regulation of the New Fundeb, in order to facilitate the timely operationalization of the new financing model from the year 2021, if the proposal is effectively approved “.

Until the publication of this report, the agency’s advisors had not expressed an opinion on the increase in Union participation proposed by PEC 15/2015.

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