The first launch event for the book “O Legado da Pandemia” brought together the work’s authors and congresswoman Tabata Amaral to debate the pandemic’s social aspect
On March 1, Insper held the inaugural debate of the series of meetings for the launch of the book O Legado da Pandemia (The Legacy of Pandemic, in Portuguese). The live webinar was proposed by the school in partnership with Brazilian nonprofit BRAVA. It discussed the pandemic’s possible legacies for Brazilian social public policy.
Insper professor Laura Müller Machado organized the book. It brings in reflections by 26 professors and researchers who had looked into the pandemic’s legacies and lessons for public policy. The book was made available for free in e-book format (in Portuguese). Learn more about the publication and download it here!
For that first meeting, authors and Insper professors Bianca Tavolari, Michael França, Naercio Menezes Filho, and Ricardo Paes de Barros were brought together. Prof. Laura Müller Machado was the discussion moderator. Insper professor Sergio Firpo and Brazilian federal congresswoman Tabata Amaral were invited to comment on the topic.
“Any situation or crisis that we go through can bring us lessons. With the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, this is no different. It is a dreadful situation. However, this project aims to think about what we can learn from all of this, regardless of how successful we may or may not be in fighting the pandemic,” Laura explained at the opening of the webinar.
The legacy for the racial agenda
Prof. Michael França, Coordinator of the Racial Studies Hub at Insper’s Center for Public Policy and Administration (CGPP, for its acronym in Portuguese), opened the debate. In his text, he discusses the legacies that the pandemic has left for the racial agenda. The researcher cited as a primary aspect the expansion of the population’s sensitivity on the issue.
“The pandemic has caused the racial debate to become increasingly heated. That is, precisely, because the beginning of it was marked by an extensive debate about why black people are dying more than white people in this scenario,” said Michael.
Commenting on Michael’s article, Ms. Tabata Amaral reflected on whites’ role in supporting the fight for racial equality. She analyzed that there were greater participation and support from the population to the agendas raised in the movements seen in the United States. “As a person who holds an elective office, I wonder how to account for addressing the lack of representativeness in politics in a faster and more persistent way.”
“I put the issue of inclusion as an essential point. And regarding social policy aimed at the racial agenda, I think we have to study much more. That is because much of what we have is imported from American models, and we have a racial dynamic that in many ways is different from there,” concluded Michael.
Impacts on educational inequality
Following that, Prof. Naercio Menezes Filho, Coordinator of the Ruth Cardoso Chair and Director of the Brazilian Center for Early Child Development (CPAPI, for its acronym in Portuguese), presented his article. It focused on analyzing the lessons the pandemic brought to Brazilian educational policy and what impacts it will have in the coming years.
“It was clear from the beginning that this pandemic is going to cause a huge increase in educational inequality, one that will be felt over the children’s lives. In the text, we show how children’s completion of school activities varies according to their parents’ education, poverty level, and children’s color. The main legacy the pandemic leaves as a learning experience is the need to equalize opportunities,” the researcher said.
Commenting on the reading of the contribution, Sergio Firpo pointed out that educational inequalities have become very apparent due to difficulties in accessing technology. For him, it is necessary to invest in the earliest stages of life to fight inequality from the start. “To what extent are we able to implement these policies to reduce inequality of opportunity at a time with significant fiscal constraints?” — Sergio questioned.
Naercio believes that there is room to implement measures to recover from the educational gap. “Considering that there is the prospect of increased funds in the area through the new FUNDEB (the Brazilian Fund for Maintenance and Development of Primary Education and for Teacher Appreciation), we need better management of this investment. There is evidence that budget execution was not fully allocated last year”.
Prof. Bianca Tavolari presented the book’s third chapter. In her text, she discussed housing policy during the crisis, focusing on the issue of rent. “We had learned that when we talk about housing policies, we think about building houses. However, we also need to think about non-homeowners, as these people have a greater destabilization with the pandemic.”
In his commentary on the chapter, Tabata stressed that she also does not see a robust public policy for those who pay rent. Besides, she questioned which initiatives seem to make the most sense. “It seems to me that structuring a fund would not only be a good initiative when thinking about future crises but also when thinking about what can be done in this second year of pandemic.”
For Bianca, the increase in vulnerability in the pandemic is visible. However, it is also possible to find examples of public policies being proposed to contain that process. “There are several examples from other cities and countries that are doing this combination of suspension of evictions and specific funds to address the issue of rent.”
Prof. Ricardo Paes de Barros, the holder of Insper’s Instituto Ayrton Senna Chair and Coordinator of our Center for Sciences in Education (NCPE, for its acronym in Portuguese), concluded the discussion on the book’s first part. He commented on the article written about the legacy of public policies for reducing intergenerational inequality.
“We have a huge intergenerational inequality, with the prevalence of policies aimed at the elderly. It contradicts our own Constitution, which says there is an absolute priority to guaranteeing the social rights of children, adolescents, and young people,” Ricardo said.
Sergio Firpo agreed with the author that Brazilian social spending is much more focused on older people than on younger people, and it generates big distortions in social investment. However, he questioned how to implement policies to change that reality. “If we drastically changed our cash transfer policies to give more attention to the young, how could we ensure not to place the elderly in a very vulnerable position?”
“Such a change in the direction of Brazilian social policy will impact the elderly but benefit society in a much larger volume. All over the world, we see a greater dedication of funds to children than to adults,” replied Ricardo Paes de Barros.
Following that, the authors had some time to answer questions placed by the event’s audience. Watch the webinar’s full recording here: