porque o assunto é polémico…

25Jul10

posto aqui (para além de aqui):

The Portuguese government’s Parque Escolar project is a huge operation that aims to transform 332 of the 477 state upper-secondary schools in Portugal in the short space of seven years (between 2008 and 2015), spending around 2.5 billion euros in the process.


D.Dinis School _ Ricardo Bak Gordon

In response to the current global economic crisis, the Portuguese government established a set of strategic measures called ‘The Investment and Employment Initiative’. It is against this background that the Parque Escolar project should be analysed and understood for there is no other circumstance that would justify spending just seven years renovating what took over 100 years to build.

As such, the project raises two delicate questions. First, whether it makes sense to change the entire school infrastructure without also altering teaching programmes. In other words, shouldn’t thought be given to teaching models at the same time as we think about the ‘forms’ in which teaching takes place? Second, how are the professionals involved, in particular the teams of architects, chosen?

While the first issue has been debated over recent months on national television, and even in parliament, prompting strikes and protests on the streets, the second has been a taboo subject in the political mainstream, highlighting the still marginal importance of architecture and architects in Portuguese society.

What has become clear since the launch of the first pilot phase involving four schools and the second one involving 75 (the third phase in which 125 schools will be renovated has just started) is that projects have been awarded directly to certain architects without any form of public tender or pre-selection. Some architects are responsible for ten schools; others are in charge of three or four schools.

The Ministry of Education, citing the urgent nature of the project and national interest as the reasons why time cannot be wasted on public tenders, has distributed the projects as it sees fit. The Association of Architects said mea culpa, admitting that while it has always supported the use of public tenders for projects of national interest, it was ‘aware’ of the specific circumstances of this programme.

The first news to filter through to the public domain – almost a year ago – was a front page headline in a national newspaper claiming that the ‘Portuguese State paid architects over 20 million euros with no public tender’, which rang alarm bells and raised doubts. Not enough to make any difference at the time, however. The architects ‘fight’ is now taking place in the blogsphere, where a petition asking for a different approach is circulating. And the Architects Association has finally decided to took abroader view of things, clamouring for public tenders now that the programme has reached its final phase.

Depicting their actions as a positive measure in the fight against unemployment and the economic crisis, the Portuguese Government has gone against the best practice that it has always defended in relation to the use of public tenders and in so doing set a bad example of how to manage state assets, which, when all is said and done, belong to all of us.

(info: http://www.parque-escolar.pt)

* texto publicado na revista A10#34

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