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July 25, 2014
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Politics, television and quality of education

Journalists, politicians and gov’t officials banalize the long-term educational problem

Whenever one hears or reads condemnations of the Argentine education system and when journalists and opposition politicians repeat the reiterative ballad about its terrible state, society is witnessing without being aware of it another perfectly confusing double message.

It’s inevitable to ask oneself what kind of quality of education these same politicians and journalists — forever tireless and chronic liars, and some of them in denial about their dark pasts — aspire to when they appear on television sets and editorial pages of the papers that are still considered important. There they soliloquy and agree among themselves about an extremely serious problem which in fact exists — the quality of education in Argentina has been on a downward spiral for more than 30 years — but to which they only add frivolity and confusion with their ignorance and repetition of clichés.

It’s understandable from the employees of the television establishment and of Clarín and La Nación that, just like their bosses, are at the service of antinational economic interests. But it is much harder to understand why leaders and lawmakers who have experience and a serious exterior, accept and repeat everything that is said and written by the journalists.

Because the quality of education is a matter of extreme complexity and difficult to solve in a country such as ours, which has seen the systematic degradation of education for two and a half decades (1976 to 2002). A system which had produced good results for a century was ruined, and among other calamities, the respect for the authority of knowledge and understanding was thrown out in addition to the ruling out of any kind of sensible criteria to establish discipline.

It’s regrettable to see how journalists, politicians, officials and so called ‘stars’ of the varied media firmaments actually banalize and bastardize the educational problem. Invoking their false concerns over the matter they repeat set phrases and some of them appeal to the PISA tests without any critical reflection as they visit the most objectionable television programmes.

That’s how the Argentine people are lead astray when it comes to concepts such as ‘education’, ‘culture’, ‘artists’, ‘entertainment’ or ‘humour’ and there are plenty of mind-numbing options, some of which reach unexpected extremes. And to those options politicians are invited, politicians who claim to be worried about education — especially during electoral periods — so that they can give interviews and smile for the cameras amid the grotesque media circus with which the citizenry is fooled day in and day out, and on a nightly basis particularly. And they go.

I don’t think that Mr Marcelo Tinelli is the only one responsible for this, but I do think that he has an enormous responsibility. On his programmes, for years now, vulgarity, banality and poor taste are given an exalted status. Guests are encouraged to offer their bodies and dignity in exchange for ephemeral fame and money, which in other circles is known as prostitution and/or corruption. But the journalists and opposition politicians don’t see that, don’t denounce it, and worse still, smilingly accept it, including the neofiscal republicans that happily share meals with Mrs Legrand. Or who accept to appear on TN, where it is now fashionable to criticize the poor quality of the Argentine education system.

And that’s how they become accomplices to the already well-worn crusade by concentrated powers that use the media to convince the Argentine people that what has no importance is actually important. And that what has no value is actually valuable.

With respect to Mr Tinelli, whose imagination and audacity is admirable, he seems capable of anything. And not only for his business or sporting interests, which are his concern, but also because the extraordinary growth of his influence is based on degrading slogans, in a constant misogyny, on the insistence that women are only noteworthy if they dance half-naked in a tasteless display of chauvinism and vulgarity that pushes the limits. And all of that with the habitual double discourse on his programmes — that they ‘help‘ charitable or under—privileged institutions.

It’s obvious that many of us don’t watch those programmes but we can’t help running into vulgarity and poor taste as we flick through the channels. And it is equally obvious that in the main we don’t see anything of any educational quality on Argentine television. A television to which opposition leaders, lawmakers and activists are so fond of, and which they so complacently visit to speak about precisely the poor quality of education, to which they refer as if it were the perverse invention of a single government.

It is pitiful to see how, out of necessity or vanity, they expect to be invited. And it must be for that reason that we have never seen any public proposals from any officials or lawmakers — nor from any judges! — bringing attention to the matter or proposing limits to such excesses and mediocrity, and to such non-educational nonsense on those programmes.

Nobody talks about that educational quality. Not a word. Although that is the worst education, smuggled on a daily basis into hundreds of thousands of Argentine homes, seeking to confuse and stupefy millions of families with cheap sexism and the most reactionary and conservative ideology.

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