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RLE | Presentation of the dossier "The democratic management of schools and universities in the 50 years of April".

Presentation of the dossier

"The democratic management of schools and universities in the 50 years of April".

This themed issue of Revista Lusófona de Educação aims to describe, analyse and interpret the democratic management of schools and universities in the 50 years since April.

Associated with the 25th of April 1974, which gives it a political significance, democratic management is the result of the release of tensions that had been felt for decades and which extended to schools (Delgado & Martins, 2002), resulting in changes introduced into schools by the educational actors themselves, particularly teachers and students, in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, in a clear attempt to break away from the strongly centralised high school model (Barroso, 1999, 2002; Lima, 1998). This period of political decompression will show the ability of educational actors to dominate areas of uncertainty, transforming schools into spaces of communicability that allowed for change and where power was operationalised through decision-making, exercising an autonomy that was "won through action, demanded and tested in practice, through processes of direct democracy" (Lima, 1998, p. 157) and not the result of a delegation of power, which embodies the slogan "Power to the Schools".

Decree-Law 176/74, of 29 April, and especially Decree-Law 221/72, of 27 May, among other pieces of legislation that followed, would retrospectively recognise organisational dynamics resulting from the initiative of educational actors while at the same time affirming, albeit timidly, the continuation of central power (Lima, 1998). This aspect has led some authors to use the concept of a "dual state" (Formosinho & Machado, 2000; Santos, 1984) to characterise the period following the Revolution, even though it is recognised that during this period "self-management was tested and de facto autonomy began to be exercised, although not de jure, through processes of mobilisation, participation and activism that confronted the central powers" (Lima, 2007, p. 23). 23), with the result that the administration responded with delay and by reaction, in a first phase of legal coverage and legalisation a posteriori.

Decree-Law no. 769-A/76, of 23 October, which established the school governance model, would achieve the aim of normalising school life along the lines of a return to concentrated centralisation. Although it became known as the "democratic management" model, it established a period referred to by various authors as the "normalisation period" (Grácio, 1981; Lima, 1998; Stoer, 1982, 1986). The idea of "democratic prosthesis", put forward by Barroso (1991) or other judgments that point to its constraints on democracy (Afonso, 1988; Cunha, 1995; Ferreira, 1992; Lima, 1998), find justification in the "institutionalisation" of democratic management carried out on the fringes of decentralisation and autonomy, leaving out local authorities, families and students.

Although it represented "a lasting institutionalising innovation in Portuguese school administration" (Teodoro, 1994, p. 77), from its promulgation until the publication of the LBSE Law, relations between the administration and schools remained unchanged, particularly with regard to issues of school autonomy.

The third period of democratic management, between the early 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, whose most relevant regulations, namely Decree-Law 172/91 of 10 May and Decree-Law 115-A/98 of 4 May, kept the centre's influence over schools intact in terms of essential aspects (Barroso, 1998; Estêvão, 2001; Lima, 2000; Silva, 2004; Barroso & Almeida, 2001).

The beginning of the fourth period is marked by Decree-Law no. 75/2008, of 2 April, which will be consolidated by Decree-Law no. 137/2012, of 2 July. º 137/2012, of 2 July, which breaks with collegiality in school management by personifying the Principal as the face of the school, on whom all political and administrative pressures fall, which limits and undermines the principles of participation and eligibility (Costa, 2009; Carvalho, 2012; Leal & Carvalho, 2013; Lima, 2011), although in the autonomous regions, the scenario that supports this collegiality is different (Silva & Fraga, 2022).

In the case of higher education in Portugal, Decree-Law no. 806/74 of 31 December aimed to provide greater relative autonomy for higher education schools, although it did not explicitly use the term autonomy and the management bodies of these schools were formally subordinated to the central administration. This decree was a response to previous spontaneous movements and aimed to create firmer, more representative structures in higher education institutions. Despite the efforts to democratise management, there was a conservative approach in terms of openness to the environment and autonomy. Despite the emphasis on representative democracy, universities remained largely subordinate to the government. Real management power was limited, and the appointment of key positions, such as rectors, remained under government control. The democratic management of universities in Portugal during this period was characterised by efforts to increase participation and collegiality. However, real autonomy and decentralisation were limited, keeping universities under centralised control (Lima, 2009).

It is, above all, on the basis of these previous considerations on the democratic management of schools and universities, and recognising that the space for reflection and debate is even wider, that we open this Call for Papers to all those who would like to contribute to deepening this analysis and, in particular, retrieve and juxtapose the principles and challenges of democratic management today, 50 years after April. As Lima (2018) points out, it is still relevant in this day and age to ask "how democratic is the democratic management of public schools?"



Submission: until 15th February 2024

Evaluation: until 31st March 2024

Publication: second quarter of 2024


- Authors must submit an article proposal of between 30,000 and 40,000 characters with spaces, including abstracts in Portuguese, French, English and Spanish (1200-1500 characters with spaces) and 3 to 5 keywords.

- Graphs, charts, images should be saved in separate files and saved in jpeg format.

- Bibliographical references in APA 7th edition style (maximum of 25).

See the submission rules at:

All papers will be submitted to the guest editors, subject to blind peer review. Up to 9 articles will be selected for this thematic dossier.

Submission languages: Portuguese, French, English and Spanish

E-mail address for submitting articles: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.