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Educação & Realidade

Print version ISSN 0100-3143On-line version ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.43 no.4 Porto Alegre Oct./Dec. 2018 


ENEM: propulsion to the Brazilian educational market in the 21st century

Rafaela Campos Duarte SilvaI 

Savana Diniz Gomes MeloII 

ICentro Federal de Educação Tecnológica (CEFET), Belo Horizonte/MG - Brazil

IIUniversidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte/MG - Brazil


The external evaluation gained prominence in the educational scenario since 1990 and became an instrument for induction and control of the operationalization of educational reforms. In this process, the Brazilian State assumes the role of formulator, regulator and evaluator of results. The National High School Examination (ENEM) created and reformulated in this context, gains progressive scope and becomes more widespread. With Law No. 13,415/2017, which reforms high school and with the help of the National Curricular Common Base, it expands its implications to basic and higher education. Based on a documentary study, the article characterizes and analyzes the ENEM, the role it plays and its relation with the consolidation of the educational market in Brazil.

Keywords: Educational Evaluation; National High School Examination; Curricular Reform; Educational Politics


A avaliação externa ganhou destaque no cenário educacional desde 1990 e se tornou instrumento para indução e controle da operacionalização de reformas educativas. Nesse processo, o Estado brasileiro assume o papel de formulador, regulador e avaliador de resultados. O Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (ENEM), criado e reformulado nesse contexto, ganha progressiva abrangência e se massifica. Com a Lei nº 13.415/2017, que reforma o ensino médio, e com o auxílio da Base Nacional Comum Curricular, expande suas implicações sobre a educação básica e a educação superior. Fundamentado em estudo documental, o artigo busca caracterizar e analisar o ENEM, bem como revelar o papel que essa avaliação desempenha na conformação e na consolidação de um grande mercado educacional no Brasil.

Palavras-chave: Avaliação Educacional; Exame Nacional de Ensino Médio; Reforma Curricular; Política Educacional


In this paper, we sought to reflect upon the National High School Examination (ENEM) as and inductor of reform in Brazilian high school education in the core of current educational policies. We understand that, in a scenario of worldwide economic crisis in the late 1970’s, that demanded a re-structuration of the productive sector of the State as a response, education began to represent one of the alternative of highlight to the seek to overcome the already mentioned crisis. In this scenario, with the promulgation of Lei de Diretrizes e Bases da Educação Nacional [Law of Guidelines and Bases for Brazilian National Education (LDBEN/1996) the large-scale assessment gained centrality in the educational policies. Since then, such measure has become a device for induction and control of operationalization of the educational reforms that aim at consolidating the new education model, of a mercantile character, congruent to the new stage of capitalism in worldwide level.

In this process, Brazilian State plays the role of formulator, regulator and evaluator, in control of external evaluation, of the results achieved, of curriculum, of teaching work, educational practice and school system. Teaching, from basic education to college education, become to be submitted to distinct evaluations of national and international character.

High school evaluation, by means of ENEM, emerges in that context, and its reformulation since 2009 grants its other purposes, content and form, that bring new consequences to public education. Contributing to the analysis of that evaluation and put in relief the role it plays in the conformation and consolidation of educational market in Brazil, involving both basic and college education it the goal of the present paper. The research is based in official documents, related to the period from 1996 to 2018 and in academic production.

We consider that, along with other measures, ENEM caused in the public educational sector the standardization and the narrowing of high school curricula; the definition of evaluation devices, the standardization and control over evaluation; and the consolidation of the accountability process in high school, an action that promotes the charge of the actor, especially the teachers, and the precariousness of the teaching directed to the poorer extracts of society. In the private education sector, by its turn, it opened possibilities for creation and consolidation of educational centers so-called excellent reserved for the most privileged extract of society.

Throughout this text, we will present ENEM’s context of creation, purpose, objectives, the modification it passed through since its creation and the advents that followed the creation of the Exam (High School Reform and BNCC). Finally, we will reflect upon the intentional creation of such measures and on how they relate to each other in face of the macrostructural context of restructuration and advance of capitalism in its new stage in Brazil.

High School in Brazil (1996-2018)

For some years now, we have been discussing the fragility that trespass High School in Brazil, whether it is for the need for increasing the vacancies towards the universalization, or to the school evading, or still for the need of higher investments in that level of education, in view of the insufficiency of resources for public education. Literature has shown that the curricular reforms that took place along the years in Brazil did not come from the collective needs, and, most of the time, were influenced by curricular reforms from other countries and contexts in detriment of a national curricular thought (Oliveira, 2000; Moehlecke, 2012; Figueiredo, 2014; Zibas, 2005).

Such finding can be confirmed when we investigate the reform proposals of high school, evinced, mainly, form the early 1990’s, in order that evaluation is highlighted and the purposes of that level of education are divided between preparation for work and continuity of studies, putting aside the enhancement of the student as a human being, the ethical training, the development of intellectual autonomy and of critical thinking, relevant points mentioned in #35 Article of LDBEN/1996.

In order to relate the transformation of capitalist system with the reforms of educational system, we stress that in Brazil, as well as in other countries, we can affirm that the State Reform was based in the overvaluation of market, in the meritocracy, and in the efficiency of systems and subjects. From the mid 1990’s, have been implemented educational policies aiming at guiding education based on fostering, management and curriculum. There were promoted, still, modifications on organization and management of education systems, taking place the centralization of public decisions and the decentralization of actions that became to be made within States and cities, expanding the financial and management autonomy of the education systems (Oliveira, 1999).

We know that the process of State Reform experienced in Brazil is not local, not even new. However, in order to save it from the crisis and keeping the capitalism system, it is need that adjusts are made along the years. The justification for the reform model practiced was based in the inefficiency of the services offered to the population. For such, we was caused a dismantling of public service, reducing drastically the investment in areas that were of exclusive responsibility of the State, such as health care and education.

In the Brazilian context, as in other countries, education became to be thought of under the bias of the alleged autonomization of school, a process that allows for certain flexibility on the management of the education offered, but that susceptible to a strong regulation and accountability of the subject for the results achieved. In this sense, it was created a national evaluation system, on the premise of measuring the knowledge the students got, a measure that became inductor of curricular policies and reform in high school, configuring a new educational model of management character based in the accountability of the students and educational staff for the performance achieved in external evaluations. Such process was consolidated and intensified from 2009, resulting in significant changes in the curriculum, in the forms of evaluation, of school management, in remuneration policy, in work and in teaching career.

External evaluation is considered by the State as a strategy capable of promoting the achievement of objectives of improvement of efficiency and of education quality, which has been declared without clear plans and proposals, directed to the various instances and institutions of the teaching systems. In this sense, there has been a redirecting of the role of State in the economy in favor of efficiency and productivity. In the educational area, the proposals and practices corroborate for that movement, such as the implementation of the teaching evaluation systems.

The literature reinforces that the educational reforms occurred in the last years were not based in the discussion undertaken by school community, but for delimitations from international organisms, that determine changes in favor of the maintenance of the capital accumulation system. This study confirms that assertive.

In fact, the reforms undertaken in the high school from 1996 to 2018 were marked by the absence of participation of school community and represent, in its essence, the maintenance of structural duality, portrayed by the offering of a propaedeutic teaching directed to the children of elite, and of the professionalization teaching, with the aim of training work force for ensuring the maintenance and consolidation of the capitalist system.

In the current scenario, the measures undertaken especially in the presidential governs of Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer, represented by Law Project nº 6.840/2013, by Innovator High School Program, by the documents Uma Ponte para o Futuro [A Bridge for the Future] (2015), and A Travessia Social [The Social Crossing] (2016), and by the approval of the Constituent Amendment nº 95/2016 and the Law 13.415/2017, express both the direction that are intended to be given to public services in general and to high school in the country as well as the imposing character adopted. It is a high school geared towards promoting the differentiation of the school and life trajectories, preventing the poor students and workers to the accumulated knowledge produced by humanity and to entice getting access to the university, occupying prestige charges, developing critical thinking capable of questioning the capitalist society.

In relation to the Law nº 13.415/2017, that modifies LDBEN/1996, we observe the relevance given to federal govern and the hurry to approve a reform that meets essentially the dictates of international organisms and of the big capital in detriment of public education, of the students, education staff and the poor population of the country. The obligatoriness of the choice made from the options granted by the schools, keeping in mind the structural conditions, practically prevents the poor student of inserting himself in college education, since he will be deprived of the knowledge required to ingress in those institutions.

It is worth noting that the modifications contained in the Law nº 13.415/2017 are valid for the public school and imposed upon them. Nothing obliges the private institutions to follow such dictates, what will differentiate still more the students coming from public and private schools and will reinforce the arguments that the public school do not offer a quality education, without considering that the responsible for the offering of that service is the State itself.

We can observe that the High School Reform plays a central role along with the organic modifications of capitalist system. In the current context, it is characterized as a part of the measures undertaken by the State in order to withdraw social rights, culminating in the transference of the offering of public service to the private enterprises, in the granting of public resources for the big capitals and also in the repression of training of critic and autonomous subjects by public schools, what intends to allow for the preparation of workers to exert, strictly, primary and specific functions on the work market. On the other side, the future leaders of the capitalist system will be able to study in elite private schools, that offer an integral training, much differentiated from the one imposed upon the public schools, to the poor. In this sense, it becomes evident how that reform will stretch the abysm that already exists between the students coming from poor families and those of the rich ones.

Law nº 13.415/2017 also determines that the implementation of new high school be gradual in the states, beginning from the school year subsequent to the homologation of the National Curricular Common Base (BNCC). Therefore, its implementation can occur in a differentiated way in terms of rhythms and levels of profundity, and thus its results can present variations throughout the country.

It is worth noting that contrary manifestations to the approval of High School Reform by federal govern have occurred and still occur in several states of Brazil. According to the site Movimento Nacional em Defesa do Ensino Médio [National Movement in Defense of High School], since the publishing of Provisory Measure (MP) nº 746/2016, a preliminary document to the approval of Law nº 13.415/2017, at least 23 entities have published texts repudiating the current reform of High School9.

Students from public education system of several Brazilian states also have positioned themselves in front of that reform. During the months of October and November, 2016, high school students from the public education systems of several Brazilian states has occupied the public state school in protest against PEC nº 241/2016 (Constituent Amend 95/2016) and against MP nº 746/2016 (Law nº 13.415/2017). According to the information published in the site of High School Students’ Brazilian Union (UBES)10 it is estimated that 1,197 schools, universities and regional education nucleus have been occupied in 22 Brazilian states. The pole of the occupations was the State of Paraná, in the south of Brazil, totalizing approximately 850 schools. The movement was entitled high school spring and can be considered a landmark in the students’ fight against the oppression exerted by the capitalist system.

We stress that current High School Reform, prescribed by Law nº 13415/2017, together with BNCC and ENEM deepens a little more the structural duality of teaching, now under new arguments and devices. In this context, high school plays the role not only of training the worker according to the more immediate interests of the productive sector, being abandoned even the discourse of purpose of training a citizen able to produce modifications in the world of work and in society, as preconized in LDBEN/1996, but also becomes the propellant of segmentation, expansion and consolidation of the profitable education market, that aims at embracing the basic and college education in Brazil. It is about propelling the offering of private, diversified education, for diverse publics, and diminishing the public and free school.

National Exam of High School: general aspects and its influence on the curricular reforms in force

As mentioned, in the context of post-Reform of the Brazilian State Apparatus, the creation of exams has become a feasible device for educational reforms. Such change has implied the organization of the curricula, the school system and even the resources directed to education.

We clarify here that the creation of external assessment was endorsed by the preoccupation of measuring the efficiency and efficacy of the education offered, in view of the investments of the govern in the educational sector. In this neoliberal logic, the assessment would measure the quality of the teaching offered.

Instituted by Federal Order nº 438/1998, ENEM was created to play the role of standardized assessment for “high school. In this guiding document, it is explained its main objective: “[…] assessment the student’s performance by the end of basic schooling, in order to measure the development of fundamental competencies for the full exercise of citizenship” (Brasil, 2002). However, beyond the assessment of the knowledge acquired by the student, ENEM/1998 was used also as a vestibular process for ingress in private college education, as a form of complimentary access of even for the substitution of vestibular in those institutions, and as selection for the University for All Program (ProUni). We highlight that the exam had, at that time, an optional character and was performed annually (Brasil, 1998, p. 02).

According to the first final report of ENEM, elaborated by the Ministry of Education (MEC) in partnership with the National Institute of Educational Studies and Researches (INEP), the exam has been seen as a producer of evidences towards the enhancement of the quality of high school, being its function to assess the participants’ performance by means of the acquisition of content, competencies and skills developed throughout the basic education.

In the second year of appliance of ENEM, MEC attributed to it other function, to constitute an inductor of changes, giving indicators that the exam would guide the implementation of the curricular reform in high school (Brasil, 1999, 2000).

In that context, were elaborated in 1999 the National Curricular Parameters for High School (PCNEM). The document has not a deliberative character but an instructive one. Its purpose is to guide managers and teachings towards the effectiveness of changes in that teaching level, that, later, would be consolidated with the approval of BNCC. In relation the time of creation of PCNEM and ENEM, we can observer a mismatch, for the change inductor document - PCNEM - arrives at the teachers’ hands after the first appliance of the exam. That situation reinforces the perception of a possible future submission of the curriculum to the demands coming from external assessment and leaves room to doubts. After all, has ENEM/1998 the function of evaluation the quality of the teaching offered and the students’ learning, or simply to induct curricular changes in that level of teaching according to political and ideological interests?

ENEM, still in its first version, has received many critics, especially from the academic community. According to Carneiro (2012), ENEM is pertinent in its conception, but not in its formulation. Its main objective was the publishing of results, in order to promote a ranking of educational institutions, what turns into political merchandise and in news for the television and printed media. Besides that, we observe that Enem presents itself as a remarkable inductor of changes in the school curricula. It is taught aiming at good results in the exam.

Other negative aspects were raised about Enem, mainly in what concerns the legitimation of and individualized vision of the educational process, being attributed especially to the student the responsibility for the eventual competency or incompetence evinced by the exam, since it does not have an obligatory character. In that context, we also note that the Union assumes the role of coordinating and evaluating the teaching stages, focusing on the structuration of external evaluations and disregarding the conditions of the education systems. Such actions end up inducting the search for the production of competencies or incompetency in the student’s and other staff that work in at the school (Cury, 1997; Souza, 2003).

Therefore, since its first version, ENEM can be understood as a substrate of the curricular changes undertaken in high school. We can observe a gradual process of reform that has begun with the promulgation of LDBEN/1996, from the institution of the regulator/evaluator State, in counterpoint to the relaxation proposed in the document. We stress that ENEM was stablished even before the creation of Curricular Guidelines for High School and of PCNEM. Such action can be understood as a strategy of the project of reform of the State that aims to impose gradually measures for concretizing it, reducing the resistance.

In 2009, the exam was reformulated and begun to express the following objectives: democratizing the opportunities of access to the federal vacancies in college education; providing academic mobility; inducting the restructuration of the curricula of high school and promoting accreditation of young people over 18 years old.

In relation to curriculum induction, at that time, as it is already indicated by the very document elaborated by MEC, entitle Proposal to the National Association of the Chairmen of the High Education Federal Institutions, one of the central objectives of the exam is the curricular restructuration of high school. In several states, there were organized planning meetings at the high school institutions aiming at the incorporation of the new content to and already overloaded and fragmented curriculum.

According to Santos (2011, p.9), MEC’s perspective in using the new ENEM to guide the schools’ curricula “[…] is very close to the vision of turning education in a big preparation course. The difference is that the previous course hat the traditional vestibular as the main goal to achieve. Now, the new one will have as objective the standards of ENEM”.

By instituting ENEM as a selective process for accessing the federal universities, the meritocratic character of vestibular was reassured, disregarding the selectiveness that device implies. In this sense, Oliveira and others (2008, p.83) clarify that “[…] the selection innovations have not been able to alter the panorama of social selectiveness, since they cannot modify the paradigm of elitist school that exists in the country”. We must also recognize that the standardized assessment processes intensify the social and selectiveness social, as well as they affect the school organization and the training project of high school.

By relating the new ENEM to Law nº 13.415/2017, we observe that such measure aims at standardize content and procedures and seek to promote the control of teaching work and of what is taught at the schools from the imposition, especially, of productivity patterns. In this sense, BNCC will turn into the reference for the teaching offered in public education system and for the national assessment processes, what will imply changes, inclusively, to ENEM. However, the curricular organization preconized by Law nº 13.415/2017 tends to worsen even more the students’ performance at national assessment. This affirmation is based on the institution of training routes in high school, what will allow for the diffusion of a lightened knowledge, that will not encompass the content need not even for the performance in ENEM, in case the exam is not immediately restructured based in the already mentioned Law, intensifying even more the differentiation of performance of the students from private schools in relation to those from public schools.

We stress that, even after the reformulation of ENEM that took place in 2009, its main role was maintained: to measure competencies and skills. However, we can observe that the consecutive reformulations of the exam, associated to the creation of Innovator High School Program, and the approval of High School Reform (Law nº 13.415/2017) and of BNCC configures a scenario of alignment of high school policies, in order to control the quality of the teaching offered, based on the interests of the entrepreneur reformers, that began to invest in the educational market.

We also observe that the logic assumed by the new BNCC for high school of grouping competencies and skill by areas follows the molds of ENEM and corroborates with the theory that the curricula are inducted by the assessment. However, the supposed relaxation in the organization of the curricula falls down, since ENEM will choose content aligned to certain competencies and skills in detriment of other that, possibly, will fit the core of transversality. It is obvious, therefore, that the external assessment will guide what is taught in the schools, causing a process of curricular narrowing in that education level.

The National Curricular Common Base (BNCC) for High School

The idea of a new National Common Base that guides teaching is not new. Alike proposal appeared in the 1980’s with the curricular manuals. The theme was prescribed in the 1988 Federal Constituent for fundamental school, and in 2014, by means of Lei nº 13.005/2014, was extended for high school.

In the 1990’s, in a context marked by a deep capitalist crisis, that presented as demands restructuration in different fields, inclusively in the education field, the theme gain a new expression by means of curricular parameters and the national curricular guidelines. At the time is put in practice a set of reforms in the scope of actuation of the State, directed to the market, on the principles of management rationality and with emphasis in the public-private partnerships. In that scenario, MEC firstly presented the documents for guiding the elaboration and approval of the national curricular parameters for fundamental education in 1997. For high school, the parameters were presented in 2000, being that the document already pointed in its writing and in its very structure, the parts that indicated the areas that later would compose the project of curricular reform and reordering of that final stage of basic education, namely: languages; codes and their technology; natural sciences; mathematics and its technology; and human sciences and their technology (Brasil, 2000).

Giving continuity to that process, in the period from 2009 to 2011, the National Education Council (CNE) approved and MEC homologated the National Curricular Guidelines for elementary education, for fundamental education and high school. It is worth noting that, in parallel and bond to the advances in the formulations directed to school curriculum, it is deepened and generalized the educational assessment system, in conformity with determinations of the text of LDBEN/1996 in the country, that stablished the assessment was one of the structuring axis of school education. In effect, the relation between assessment and curriculum is direct, and model of external assessment adopted, its form, guidelines and purposes are perched by political and economic interests.

Thus, the set of parameters and guidelines approved, though not obligatory, have become reference for external assessment, that have multiplied and deepened in education since the 1990’s, what have caused deep implications both for teaching and for the teaching and school work and assessment. In their studies, several authors (Sousa, 2001; 2018; Sousa et al., 2003; 2010a; 2010b; 2011; 2018; Bonamino et al., 2012; Bauer et al., 2017) have evinced distinct consequences of that type of external assessment, based in training, with the simplification of curricular dimension, the curricular constraint and the reduction of studies in favor of exam training, the accountability of teachers, among others. A few authors (Dantas, 2017; 2018), point out as results the accountability and reward/punishment of the teacher for the students’ results in the standardized exams, leaving out all the other elements conditioning the education quality.

That process enters a new stage from 2013, with the Law Project (PL) nº 6.840/2013, written by deputy Reginald Lopes, from Workers Party (PT) that proposes to alter Law nº 9.394/1996 in order to institute full-time study day in high school, determine the ordering of high school curricula by knowledge areas, among others. In same year of 2013, not by coincidence, the executives created the Movement for National Common Base, that begun to appear in the debates about BNCC, turning into a privileged representative of MEC under the management of José Mendonça Filho (Antunes, 2017).

In parallel with the process of PL nº 6.840/2013, in June 2015, MEC already announced the construction of a National Curricular Common Base for guiding the curricula of the school all around the country. Amidst the polemic about what project, the new High School sought to propel, the process OF PL nº 6.840/2013 became delayed by strong disputes, and it lasted until August 2016, being paralyzed during President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.

Early in the beginning of his government, President Temer sends a new project for reformulation high school, that maintained many of the elements contained in 6.840/2013, and presents Provisional Measure (MP) nº 746, in September 2016. From that moment on, the process was marked by determination and agility by govern for approving the new legislation. On the other side, there was broad rejection to the High School Reform in the country, that was expressed by means of high school and public universities occupations, manifestation and public acts, with active participation of high school and university students, teachers, management staff, that, at the time, also fought the Constitution Amend Proposal n. 55, that stablished a ceiling for public expenses with primary dispenses for twenty years.

Despite the massive resistance to high school reform (and to PEC 55), the MP nº 746 was approved by Federal Senate in February 8, 2017. The law was sanctioned by Federal Executive a week later, altering several articles of Law nº 9.394/1996 and conditioning the curriculum to BNCC.

BNCC is defined by MEC in its electronic portal as “[…] a normative character document that defines the organic and progressive set of essential learning that every student should develop throughout the stages and modalities of Fundamental Education”. It arguments that, according to LDBEN/1996, its purpose is “[...] guiding the curricula of education systems and networks of Federative Unities, as well as the pedagogical proposals of every public and private school of elementary educational, fundamental education and high school, all over Brazil”. For such, it announces that the base “[…] sets knowledge, competencies and skills that are expected that all students develop along the years of fundamental education” and it guides “[…] by the ethical, political and aesthetical principles defined by National Fundamental Education Curricular Guidelines” and “[…] added to the purposes that direct Brazilian education to an integral human training and for the construction of a just, democratic and inclusive society” (Brasil, s/d).

The afore mentioned portal provides a range of materials about BNC, as document, video, guidelines and support to the reordering of curricula, and in theory, opens space for public consultation, besides support for contact, as can be observed in Image #1.

Source: Brasil (s/d’)

Image 1 BNCC Electronic Portal 

However, there is not an effective dialog with sector of society and education about BNCC conception, of its purpose and its content, being its elaboration, approving, and implementation process discretionary, as we will show next.

High School Reform and BNCC are also widely spread by the media, that has played the important role of disseminating and defending the arguments of federal govern. A few of those arguments, divulgated by Jornal O Globo, and a chronology of the process, synthesized in Chart 1, are exemplary.

Chart 1: BNCC Chronology 

Date Specification
June 2015 MEC announces the construction of a National Curricular Common Base that will serve to guide the curricula of school from all over the country.
September 2015 MEC hires experts of 35 universities for elaborating a preliminary version of the document. In the same month, it was opened a public consultant about the text that was closed in March 2016, with about 12 million contributions.
May 2016 MEC publishes the second version of the Base, with de contributions incorporated in the text. Also were adjusted, mainly, History and Portuguese matters.
June 2016 MEC organizes state seminars, from June to August, for discussing the second version of the text.
April 201711 MEC publishes what was meant to be the third and last version of BNCC of elementary and fundamental education and sends the text to CNE. The high school Base, that should also be published, did not make it. MEC announces that this document would be published in 2018.
December 2017 CNE approves the text for BNCC for elementary and fundamental education. MEC homologates the document.
April 2018 MEC publishes the third version of BNCC for high school delivers the document to CNE.
Next steps BNCC will suffer alteration and, by the end of that process, after its approval by CNE, must be homologated by MEC. It must be implemented all over the country. From it, the state systems must elaborate their curricula taking into consideration its guidelines. After the text homologation by MEC and its publication, the changes stablished by the reform of high school must be implemented within two years. Dragged by BNCC, the assessment, as ENEM, and the didactic books adopted by MEC might also change.

Source: Mariz (2017).

There were many critics towards BNCC, approved in December 2017, for elementary and fundamental education throughout the process. Education scholars point out that the document consolidates the tuning between National Curricular Common Base and the formulations defended by business foundations and institutes that provide services for public education. They also considerer that it brings many drawbacks. In the evaluation of Ximenes (2017), the document contains flaws and drawbacks, such as the instrumentalization of curriculum by educational market; standardized assessment; censorship on themes like racism, sexuality, homophobia and gender, and the inclusion of religious teaching in the all the years of fundamental education. This author considers it symptomatic that the text has been approved against the position of the main scientific associations and entities of education field12. For him, it was winner a coalition of market interests, with an enormous capacity for influencing from the institutes of banks and enterprises and its educational assessorial staff, of the reactionary from the so-called No Party School, an organization that promotes the censorship in all stances of educational debate, and of the religious field, and had been defeated in the trial of Supreme Court, and that now wants to revert the question in its favor.

There are also ferocious critics in relation to the BNCC document for high school. The text reorders high school by knowledge areas: languages and their technology; mathematics and its technology; natural sciences and their technology and human sciences and their technology. Only Portuguese language and mathematics matters appears as curricular components - obligatory matters for the three years of high school. The students must cover all BNCC in, at the maximum of 1,800 hour/class. The 1,200 hours left must be dedicated to the deepening of the training trajectory the student chose. Those trajectories, routes, will be developed by the States and by the school, and MEC will provide in the next few months a guiding manual for supporting this elaboration. The schools can offer training routes in each one of the knowledge areas or they can combine different areas. Another option if the offering of training routes focused on a specific aspect of one area. The students can also opt for a technical-professionalizing training that can be coursed within the regular study load of high school.

It is in study by CNE the proposal13 that is being discussed in public hearings. Five hearing were organized, being one in each region of the country, with the objective of collecting subsidies and contributions for the elaboration of the final version. Two of those public hearings have already occurred in May 11, 2018 and June 8, 2018, in the city of Florianópolis, in the State of Santa Catarina, and in São Paulo, respectively. The next ones are due to July 5, 2018 in the city of Fortaleza, Ceará; August 10 and 29, 2018, in the city of Belém, Pará, and in the Federal District of Brasília, respectively.

The first public hearing on high school BNCC was marked by critic and blunt speeches toward the proposal, to the Law of High School Reform and to the reform project of high school Curricular Guidelines. Among the various aspects pointed out, we can highlight: the attention to its reductionist character in what concerns the global training of the citizen expressed in the small study load reserved for the common part in detriment to the diversified part; the emphasis on the mere preparation of work force to the work market in detriment of a full training of the citizen; the precocious anticipation of the choice of training routes by the youths and its limitations, among others.

The second hearing, that was due to June 8, 2018, in São Paulo, was cancelled, after in intense manifestation of teachers and students of public school. In that occasion, the teachers took hold of the table and of the auditorium stage and vindicated the suspension of the approval process of High School National Curricular Common Base. There were many critics.

According to the ANPED’s note14 on the happening, the occupation of the hearing was promoted by a set of syndical organization, political parties and movements15, and did not received immediate support by many of the education worker present. Reinforcing the questionings of the occupants, the entity claims that it does not make sense that a BNCC elects only Portuguese and Mathematics as obligatory matters, since LDB indicates a much broader range of essential knowledge for the full human development. By reiterating that is up to the school to develop competencies in relation to know-how-to-do, emptying its content, it denies access to important knowledge from the fields of science, culture and art for majority of Brazilian population and decharacterizes the school was a place of plurality and democratization of knowledge. The entity also criticizes the terms of the training routes as a supposed freedom to choose the trajectories by the students. According to the entity, it disguises the de-responsibilization of the State for the education offer and by the grant of right to an integral training to diversity for all women and men. The training routes are a fraud, since what they call choices, are actually limitation of provision. What will define the routes are the conditions of offer of the education system, as it was defined by Lei 13.415/17.

Different flags have been hoisted in the hearing, such as the fight against the privatization of education public systems, the risk of unemployment of private education staff, the emphasis on the pedagogy by competencies giving by BNCC, that is articulate to other educational agendas of international organism, the risk of provision of up to 40% of high school study load in distance education modality, among others.

Many combative syndicates have presented active resistance to High School Reform and to BNCC. The National Syndicate of Basic, Professional and Technologic Education Federal Servants (SINASEFE), for example, that represents the workers of Federal Institutes (IF), staged, along with several movements that defend quality high school, the 2018 First Manifest in defense of integrated high school and of the Federal System of EPCT. The manifest text makes an important analysis of the meaning of the reform and of the pressure by MEC, in order that the IF’s become the pioneers of its implementation in the country:

Saying that high school Reform needs to be adopted by IF’s because it is a law, is at least a disparate or lack of knowledge of the legislation altered by Law 13.415/2017. For there is not in the mentioned law a device that obligates the adoption of the form of professional education concomitantly to high school. Such form denies categorically the fundaments of curriculum and of integrated high school. The proposal presented by MEC, especially by means of Médio-TEC, is a blunt drawback to the malfunctions of the ill-fated Decree 2.208/97 that brought the federal system to national scrapping (SEÇÃO SINDICAL SC-SINASEFE, 2018).

The National Syndicate of High Education Institutions Teachers (ANDES-SN), that has been a very severe critical of the country’s high education policies, critics high school reform. Maués, third vice-president of the entity and one of the coordinators of the Educational Policy Work Group (GTPE) of National Syndicate critics BNCC’s proposal sent by MEC to CNE. For the teacher, the curricular changes will contribute to diminish the teaching quality, make precarious the teaching work and the study conditions of the public schools students. She also criticizes CNE. According to her, with the new composition modified by president Temer, that prioritized the participation of business sectors, with interests in the precarization and in privatization of public education, we should “[…] quickly evaluate BNCC and that eliminates the debate with society. They will organize only regional public hearing, without giving voice to all the attendants” (Andes, 2018).

Despite the deep and reiterated critics, already know in relation to assessment, and of great resistance expressed in the country in relation to high school reform and to BNCC, the govern and the education business men keep on or ignoring or repressing the contrary manifestations and advancing the set of legislation and devices that give subsidies and propel the new educational policies, in tune with the commodification program.

Final Considerations

In order to meet the demands coming from capital, the insertion of educational system a legitimizer organism and reproducer of capitalism model it became necessary to implicate changers in the workers’ training.

The school is in charge, within the capitalist system, of the function of training the materiality to supply the production system and keep the subject engaged in the marketing logic, besides of itself becoming a promising source of high capital gains. For such, public, free and quality education must succumb or be reduced to the minimum, as the guideline of Social Crossing document announces.

When we analyze the measures that seek to reform high school implemented after the 1990’s, we observe the new face of structural duality, with its two distinct education model. The first one, directed towards the training of working forces and composed by knowledge needed for the development of technical functions filed by work market; and the second one, aiming at taking control of the state bureaucracy and of the capitalist system. We observer, in that scenario, that is perfectly pertinent the tendency of imposition of curricular reforms that encompasses content and knowledge of technical origin, in detriment of the students’ human and political training.

By what can be verified in face of the exposed on high school reform and BNCC which if bond to it, and also about ENEM, is that even though there are strong and massive critics and resistance movements, the process of its grant by means of legislation keeps advancing for consubstantiating and consolidating, in practice, an educational model that began in the 1990’s. This model meets the more immediate and urgent interests of the market’s private sectors, avid for obtaining big gains in the sector, in detriment of public, free and quality education, and of the interests of students, teachers and their syndical and academic entities committed to the social transformation. The class struggle is evident in each movement of that process.

We can perceive clearly that the measures pointed in the work (Innovator High School Program, ENEM, Law 13.415/2017, BNCC) have many points in common, what expresses the existence of a conducting wire throughout the process and the enhancement of the proposal for regulation and reordering of Brazilian high school, in each step, with the unequivocal objective of consolidating the educational market in detriment of public and free education.

Thus, besides deepening the education duality of the country, ENEM, together with High School Reform, fosters private high education offering it a broad potential consumer public, and, therefore, grants the conditions needed to the expansion and consolidation of educational market.

This study indicates the existence of two agendas for education: on stablished by public power that represents the interests of capital, whether in the municipal, state or federal sphere, and defends, implements and seeks to consolidate such model; and the other with an agenda constructed by educators and students from collective discussions and deliberations in forums and meetings, in defense of the interests of works and users of public and free services.

The conflict is open between those two positions, however, the interests and the power of imposition of the first one, represented by the State, have been out-topped up till now, considering the increase of contrary manifestations expressed in Brazil as well as in other countries of Latin America, as Argentina and Chile, and of Europe, as Spain, France and others. The questions that lingers centers in verifying how and in which moment those fights, apparently isolated, but with convergent motivations, will coadunate in an internationalist insurgence.


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Translated from portuguese by Ernane Oliveira

Received: July 17, 2018; Accepted: October 04, 2018

Rafaela Campos Duarte is master in Education by Knowledge and Social Inclusion Post-Graduation Program of Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil, and member of Study Group on University (Universitátis/FAE/UFMG). E-mail:

Savana Diniz Gomes Melo is post-doctorate bond the Education Sciences Faculty of University of La Coruña, Galicia, Spain. She is the Education by Knowledge and Social Inclusion Post-Graduation Program of Education Faculty of Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) Brazil, vice-coordinator of research line on Public Policies and Education: Conception, Implementation and Assessment and vice-chief of School Management Department of FaE/UFMG. E-mail:

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