In Argentina education is not a priority

In August 2020, when the restrictions imposed by our government to deal with Covid-19 became part of our daily lives, I wrote a column in this same space entitled: “Coronavirus and Leviathan”, in which I warned how our country would acquire , day by day, characteristics of a modern kingdom of Leviathan, in which, under the pretext of protecting us from a tremendous health emergency, our freedoms were subjugated.

Almost two years later, in April 2022, I published a new column evaluating its consequences in order to learn from our mistakes so as not to repeat them again. Use for this the experiences of sweden and uruguay, two societies that face the pandemic while respecting freedom.

By way of illustration, we simply recorded when at the beginning of May 2020 Alberto Fernández exemplified the case of Sweden as a counterexample of what should be done: “When they tell me to follow the example of Sweden, what I see is that Sweden, with 10 million inhabitants, has 3,175 deaths from the virus. It is less than a quarter of what Argentina has. In other words, what they are proposing to me is that if we follow the example of Sweden we have 13,000 deaths”. It is clear that the evidence arises from a diametrically different reality.

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What can we learn from what happened? Any restriction on freedom generates costs that go far beyond the economic. Let’s not think about Sweden, where children and young people under 16 years of age did not lose school days and compare it with our reality.

The costs for our children of the modern kingdom of Leviathan that Argentina became just beginning to manifest and son still much worse than the 130,000 dead that record the statistics.

In December, when the results of the next PISA assessment carried out in September 2022, we will have new evidence of it.

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Education as a priority

What can we learn from what happened? Let us focus our attention on the educational policy followed at that time by Sweden. In this regard, The Telegraph, a London newspaper founded in 1855, published on March 10 an interview with Anna Ekstrom, Sweden’s Minister of Education during the pandemic, who explained in detail why Sweden kept its schools open.

In the words of Anna Ekstrom: “As Sweden’s Minister of Education I was faced with an incredibly difficult question in March 2020: should we keep our schools open or should we close them? Follow the advice of our scientists and experts. We kept our primary, lower secondary and preschool centers open for almost the entire pandemic,” said the former education minister.

Throughout the pandemic, we followed the science. Our experts were very clear: there was no evidence to support a lockdown. Likewise, we never recommend masks for students. They could use them if they wanted to, but there was no requirement,” Anna Ekstrom continued.

Yes, just like that, the Swedish government respects the opinion of the experts, the real experts, those who evaluated the costs and not only the possible supposed benefits of their recommendations, to make a decision that saved the future lives of thousands of children. and young.

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It is clear that in sweden education is a priority, as the former minister testifies when she affirms that when evaluating the costs and benefits of not closing the schools, it was concluded that: “keeping children learning was vital. We were concerned about those who lived in small apartments, with no space to learn or exercise. Expanding time with friends is an important part of young people’s lives.”

There is no doubt that during the pandemic the education of our children and youth was never a priority, quite the contrary. Schools were by no means the first to reopen and had it not been for the tireless struggle of mothers’ groups, the return to face-to-face attendance would have occurred much later, in the face of fierce opposition from the teacher unions.

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But there was really no reason to expect otherwise. After all, education has been a priority in our country before the outbreak of the pandemic, as systematically evidenced by the results of the PISA evaluations, or any other indicator that is preferred to be used; it hasn’t been after her, nor is it today, or can any reader think otherwise?

Faced with the electoral process that is beginning, it is essential that education become a priority in the facts, not only in the inflamed electoral speeches. Otherwise, the years will pass and the most absurd will continue to be heard when the results of each new round of PISA are known, in which Argentina decided to participate.

* Rector of the CEMA University and Member of the National Academy of Education

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