Revisiting the Role School-Regents Played in the Educational Policy of Estado Novo

Paulo Guinote, "Revisiting the Role School-Regents Played in the Educational Policy of Estado Novo," Sísifo. Educational Sciences Journal, 1, pp. 110-123. (2006). (Excerpt)

1. Estado Novo’s educational policy: from rhetoric to pragmatism

Let us remind the essence of the prevailing historiographic discourse on this theme. During the Estado Novo regime and particularly in 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s, both Education and School have suffered processes of professional and economic depreciation and dequalification driven from a low level of priority attributed to them — especially to Elementary Education — in the regime’s budget policy. On the other hand, on transmitting a generalized message of acceptance of current social and political Order, School became mainly valued as a tool for the inculcation of the regime’s ideology, for the neutralization of most population’s expectations for social mobility and for the pacification of the most non-conformist minds.

Although embodied in a range of measures, often contradictory, Helena Costa Araújo identifies as the main features both of the educational policy during the Military Dictatorship and of the break with republican tradition, (i) the end of co-education, (ii) the abolition of Higher Elementary Schools (Escolas Primárias Superiores), (iii) reduction of compulsory education and (iv) Education’s ideological consolidation (Araújo, 2000, p. 199).

“Salazarist school was planned to function as a tightly controlled organization. From time to time teachers received circular letters on the most trivial matters whereon they were catechised about their responsibilities, through conferences and even radio programmes” (Mónica, 1978, p. 168) [2].

“Therefore, Education shared a generalized reaction against ‘modernization’ and supported traditionalist attitudes.” (Stoer, 1986, p. 49)

“(…) in 1930-31 a new reform comes into force representing a huge step-back, although in the document words it matches the Dictatorship objectives, i.e., a simplification of public services” (Adão, 1984, p. 136).