By Prof. Dr. Victor Britez Chamorro
Underdeveloped countries like Paraguay must prioritize education as an alternative for development, but strategy and implementation policies of this system must be changed to build a country heading towards development and that promotes innovation in technological and scientific research. The following are five key concepts that ought to be addressed with respect to the current ongoing reforms in the universities of Paraguay.
In autonomous and representative governments: The governing structure of public and private universities constituted distinctly by university bodies (teachers, students, and graduates) are unproductive, they do not have the political capacity that is needed to establish stronger ties with the productive and industrial sectors (economic power), society (representative power) and government (political power) to better contribute and exert positive influence on the economy and policies of the nation. This narrow vision and inward looking attitude is a result of internal factors in universities and it must be considered and reversed so that in every university, every college and every department (future employees), society (future customers) and government (future administrators) can work hand-in-hand and increase their active participation in the government and university Campus, above all addressing future plans and educational projects. Such a a productive path forward would include a better coordination of an educational policy that is consistent and implemented by all these sectors.
Independent Budgets: Annual budgets distributed to universities must be protected from favoritism, political as well as certain partisan pressure and influence. For a genuine growth of University education there must be assigned a budget that satisfies the implementation of a strategic plan that is approved and entirely respected by university authorities. Central governments are not always in solidarity with the proper distribution of wealth and they always prioritize needs and necessities according to the political party’s influences that wield pressure to the elected authorities. These political influences cause an endemic problem towards the use of public funds without taking into consideration strategic planning and long term professional growth in the universities.
Significant education of Citizens: Revitalizing the professional training manuals and scholarly texts is of imperative importance. In the strategic plans there must be a clear emphasis to the basic integral education that prepares students with higher intellectual incentives as the basis for professional growth. Currently there is little presence of social connections in university colleges, turning their back to the other sectors that will benefit from the human potential developed in academic environments. With a blind driver traveling at night there is no need for a paved road, no matter what path is chosen.
Exclusive dedication and lifelong learning: We must eradicate the part-time habit of current professors, the career of being teachers and professors must be dignified and well remunerated, as they are the principal wealth of a nation. Raw materials are finite, natural resources have a limit of exploitation, but innovation, creativity and human talent are factors that contain an infinite wealth, and that country that is able to capitalize on them has a certain competitive advantage in any given scenario. There should be established a clear education and professional training policy that sustains and protects this vital resource. Indeed this is the most intelligent and productive investment a nation can make.
Absolute control of the use of resources: The first thing we have in our society is the lack of zeal and confidence in the use of public funds. The confidence of the people in their administrators must be reestablished, and this is only possible if justice is respected and functioning appropriately. As Paraguay lacks honest judges, the lack of trust will continue to reign in the country. National institutions of inspection must be apolitical, independent, and must be headed towards a National strategy and policies that are independent from the political party in power. With regard to sustainable development and continuous educational reforms, the national culture must change radically and this is achieved only through a coordinated work between education and national institutions of inspection.
About the author:
Dr. Víctor Alfredo Britez Chamorro,
Chancellor, Universidad Nacional del Este, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
Translated from Spanish by Peter M. Tase.