Year: 1991

Author: MacKinnon, Valerie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

What place does the educational technology, research and development of the most advanced nations have in the less developed or peripheral countries? This is a question that should not be addressed by not only a few concerned educators writing in obscure journals of comparative education. While Australian nurse academics seek to use locally generated teaching information for substantive areas of courses, they are often questioning about the use of paradigms, theories and models from metropolitan centres. Some senior nurse academics at a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Brazil have been aware that the curriculum is a transmitter of culture and as a consequence they have endeavoured to develop curricula which are cognisant of local conditions, while also complying with the prevailing "international" model of primary health care. Their quest for culturally appropriate curricula has been jeopardized however, by two competing needs, one of a practical nature, the other, a quest to maintain their status. Both of these result in part from Brazil's place in the international order and class differences within. Like academics in other peripheral countries nurse academics in Brazil are dependent on teaching materials, including reference and research materials, from metropolitan centres. This dependence is caused in part by the lack of funds for local production which in turn has an impact on the development of local scholarship. Paradoxically, WHO Collaborating Centre status, could be an impediment to the development of indigenous scholarship. In some ways the school has become a slave to the dictates of external censors thus impeding efforts to achieve better health. Despite the rhetoric of primary health care, entrenched class differences in Brazilian society make it unlikely that health status will improve for the disadvantaged majority. Saunders (1986), has argued that existing social orders needed to be changed, with health workers showing solidarity with disadvantaged groups if health was to improve. Indications are that academic criteria, rather than those related to improved health status, have determined selection and continuing designation as a Collaborating Centre. This case study, based on interviews, informal discussion and documents will explore the detrimental effects of metropolitan health policy and educational developments on Brazilian nursing education. Before concluding, a series of questions will be asked about the cultural appropriateness of nursing curricula in Australia.