Congress overturned President Jair Bolsonaro’s (non-party) veto of the proposal that provided for transfers from the federal government to expand public schools’ access to high-speed internet.
The overthrow of the veto, both in the Chamber and in the Senate, took place in a block vote, along with other proposals analyzed, after an agreement signed between the party leaders. In the Chamber, the veto block was overthrown by 435 votes to 6.
In the Senate, the vetoes that were appreciated in block, with an agreement to overthrow, resulted in 57 votes in favor of the fall and none for maintenance.
The item that had been vetoed by Bolsonaro was present in a bill authored by the Executive that creates the Piec (Connected Education Innovation Policy). The proposal aims to increase schools’ access to fast internet and also seeks to encourage the pedagogical use of digital technologies in basic education.
Bolsonaro sanctioned the entire bill, with the exception of the provision that states that financial support for schools for hiring internet services and the acquisition of computers and tablets could occur through transfers from the Union to states and municipalities.
The presidential veto then prevented funding through the Programa Dinheiro Direto na Escola for hiring internet access services and building infrastructure for the distribution of internet signals in schools.
In justifying the veto, the government stated that the proposal goes against the public interest, because “there is an increase in mandatory expenses and there is no demonstration of permanent financial compensation”.
Although the proposal was drafted before the pandemic, lawmakers stressed the need to overturn the veto because of the effects.
“It is necessary to overturn this veto, even more because we know that the pandemic has increased the gap between public school students and those from the private network,” said Deputy Fernanda Melchionna (PSOL-RS).
“Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes wanted to prevent the transfer of money directly to schools, via the Money Direct at School Program, for the contracting of internet access services, the implementation of infrastructure for the distribution of the internet signal in schools, the acquisition or contracting of electronic devices and the acquisition of digital educational resources,” said Senate Minority Leader Jean Paul Prates (PT-RN).
“The Connected Education Innovation Policy is important for us to advance in the offer of broadband internet in public schools. It is imperative and urgent to ensure that the educational community, especially students, has access to new technologies and can make didactic use of new technologies in the school environment,” he added.
Among its principles, Piec establishes the promotion of access to innovation and technology in regions of greater socioeconomic vulnerability and poor performance in educational indicators.
The actions to be performed must be the result of the interaction between the federal government, states and municipalities, in addition to opening the possibility for investments by the private sector and civil society
This had not been the first time that the Jair Bolsonaro government vetoed a proposal for transfers to increase the connectivity of public schools.
In March, the president fully vetoed a bill that provided for the transfer of approximately R$ 3.5 billion from the Union to the states and the Federal District to improve the internet and the connectivity of the public basic education network.
The proposal foresaw that the resources should be used to guarantee internet access for students and teachers during the coronavirus pandemic, when educational networks had to suspend in-person classes on different occasions.
After having the veto overturned by the National Congress, in June, the government went to court to postpone the transfers.