Thalía, public agenda and budget

At the end of a postgraduate course, when faced with the requests for an extension of the deadline for the delivery of student work, my colleague in that class said: “as Thalía says: “if I don’t remember, it didn’t happen’,” she was clearly referring to a previous agreement and its expression, not only ended laughter and comments from those who participated in the meeting, but also revealed how memory operates on existence. What is remembered is part of us, what does not go down in history, directly ceases to be considered, it did not exist.

The topics that are part of our conversation define us, highlight interests, tastes, preferences, as well as anxieties and needs. In a parallel way, omissions, silences or secrets also operate in a special sense in identities, both through denial and shame.

Understanding the public agenda, as the set of issues that actors can install in the social debate and as a result, produce answers or solutions to problems, is that we see how the voices (or shouts and silences contribute to the visibility and opacity of our communities.

Today’s society lives in a trance, actors and social actions typical of other times and traditional media or channels of information and advertising are combined to try to install issues and establish themselves as references in that public agenda; while, on the other hand, the world of social networks offers multiple, varied –and no less arbitrary– ways of defining themes, representations and social priorities.

This confluence of instruments for configuring public agendas makes it difficult to determine what is relevant and what is superficial, what is urgent and what is important, in such a dispersed range of topics under debate.

The current great collective narratives were built on the basis of positive statements, matched with gestures and activities, with a certain amount of veracity, since the post-truth era does not require certainty in speeches, but only credibility. The speed of these times and the dictatorship of algorithms work with audiences loaded with prejudices and predispositions to believe, beyond reason and truth.

For this reason, part of the issues in the public debate have their own adherence and rejection, not because of their message, but because of their spokespersons.

For this reason, and although it is not on the current public agenda, I encourage myself to bring the issue of the budget cut to education carried out during 2022 and the one planned for this new year for discussion again.

An area of ​​meeting, debate, understanding and agreement must be educational, so the budget issue must be addressed not only from the need for its sustainability and growth, but also from the qualitative improvement: more budget means more resources, in change, better budget, a debate on investment in central aspects is also important, which clearly cannot be addressed, if approximately 90% of the budget is allocated only to salaries or if in universities, for example, the new teaching appointments, resulting be all single time dedication.

Hopefully at some point we will stop avoiding budget cuts or non-executions. The law on educational financing, at the time it was intended that there be a definition of the State on the subject, it would be good if the different governments complied with it.

That the lack of volume of this debate, does not make this problem relevant, can be forgotten, in particular moments for compulsory education, where abandonment, desertion and lack of high school graduation, expose a true collective tragedy.

Will it be very difficult to agree that the education budget cannot be cut in a country with such a deficit in training?

Hopefully Thalía is not right and although there is a deliberate intention to cover the budget cut to education, let us be aware that this happened and is happening.

The quality of the debates speaks of who participates in them.

The relevance of the issues that make up the public agenda describe us as a society, but premeditated omissions expose especially those who shamelessly try to cover the sun with their hands.

*Member of the Governing Council of Unesco-IESALC.

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