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On the 50 years of Veiga Simão Reform: educational policies between changes and continuities

Lusófona University
Fernando Araújo Auditorium
Lisbon 10-11 July 2023

On the 25th July 1973, the Government Gazette published the text of Law 5/73, which approved “the bases to which the reform of the educational system should obey”, the main fruit of a process that had started in January 1971 with the presentation of two documents, Project for the School System and General Guidelines for the Reform of Higher Education.

The documents released in a communication to the country on January 6, 1971 by the then young Minister of National Education, José Veiga Simão, presented the bones of his reforming project: promotion of pre-school education, extension of compulsory education, reconversion of secondary education, expansion and diversification of higher education. But the communication called for an unprecedented public debate, in the context of a dictatorial regime, where freedom of opinion and association were seriously curtailed.

Between the presentation of the reforming ideas in January 1971 and their promulgation in July 1973 in the form of a Law approved in the then National Assembly, the country witnessed, in an unfavourable global context, a “public discussion” and an intense legislative activity, consecrating in partial diplomas, under the pretext of the “pedagogical experimentation”, fundamental aspects of the announced and debated reform lines.

The reforming action of the Minister Veiga Simão is inserted in the final period of the New State, which precedes the Carnation Revolution of April 25th 1974 and the change of course towards a democratic Portugal. It is part of the last attempt at a ‘renewal in continuity’ of a regime now led by Marcelo Caetano, who, in more than four decades, had led Portugal into an impasse, well mirrored in a senseless colonial war with no end in sight.

Unquestionably, the Veiga Simão reform represented a period which placed education at the centre of the debates on the development and modernisation of the country. But it also allowed, due to its limits and contradictions, to make the complete exhaustion of the political form of organisation of the Estado Novo very visible to the Portuguese society.

It is in this context that the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development (CeiED), of the Lusófona University, and the Portuguese Association for the History of Education (HISTEDUP) organize the conference On the 50 Years of the Veiga Simão Reform: educational policy between changes and continuities. The topics for debate will be, among other possible ones, the following:

  • The political, economic and social context of the reform: marcelismo;
  • The educational legacy: from the Camoesas reform (1923) to the Veiga Simão reform (1973);
  • The principles and outlines of the documents presented by Veiga Simão;
  • Pre-school education and basic education in the Veiga Simão reform;
  • The reformulation of secondary education;
  • The creation of new universities and the general guidelines for the reform of higher education;
  • Teacher training in the Veiga Simão reform;
  • Adult education and forms of non-formal education;
  • The public discussion of the reform projects: contributions and limits;
  • The debates in the Corporative Chamber and in the National Assembly;
  • The implications and debates in the then Portuguese colonies;
  • The Congress of the Democratic Opposition and the criticism of Veiga Simão;
  • From the Veiga Simão reform (1973) to the Basic Law of the Education System (1986)

CeiED and HISTEDUP appeal to the scientific community from the various fields of Educational Sciences, History, Sociology or Philosophy, for a sharing of knowledge and research on this crucial period of the history of Portugal (and of the countries which emerged from Portuguese colonialism).

(Information will be updated and completed shortly).