The National Education Plan set out clear targets for the country’s teachers and methods, but effective implementation is needed on a state and municipal level for the changes to take root in Brazil
Every year, three million children enter the Brazilian education system, but only 500,000 of them will go on to leave high school with a sufficient level of Portuguese to enter the jobs market and only 137,000 with adequate maths. Add to these basic subjects the 21st century skills of critical thinking, teamwork, digital know-how and problem solving, and it is clear that the government urgently needs to address its public education shortcomings if Brazil is to develop. Education for all is a noble cause, but it remains hollow rhetoric if these growing classrooms are not empowering their occupants with knowledge.
In 2011, Sao Paulo’s Governor Alckmin set two long-term goals: to put the state on the path towards having one of the 25 most-advanced education systems in the world by 2030; and to fundamentally change the way teachers and their profession are regarded. Much-needed investment followed basic and merit-based wage increases and training, but this has tailed off since 2013. In 2014, state funding was slashed by R$275 million, calling for extensive cost-cutting in a sector not renowned for its efficiency.
“Universities haven’t been able to train teachers for the new reality of basic education”
Herman Voorwald Secretary of education for Sao Paulo stateTweet This
Sao Paulo’s state education secretary, Herman Voorwald, understands the crucial role of the teacher in inciting change. “The goal was giving every child the right to be in school”, he says. “Originally it was inclusion with quality, but teacher training hasn’t kept pace with the youth of today who are now better informed and more critical, and demand a different relationship with their schools.”
“Our biggest priority is not leaving kids behind”
Gabriel Chalita Secretary of education for the city of Sao PauloTweet This
While the concept of education has changed within Brazilian culture, the next stage is for the concept of teaching to change and modernise. The National Education Plan established clear goals for the system’s development, engagement of the community and the idea of full-time education. “If everything that was put forward is realised, there will be a significant improvement in education in ten years”, says Sao Paulo’s city education secretary Gabriel Chalita. “It makes no sense for kids to go to school, finish a full cycle and come out the other end still not able to read or write.”