Cidade da Copa ainda deficitária

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Em entrevista à repórter Deijenane Gomes, apresentei uma visão real a respeito da educação na cidade. As melhorias tímidas e alguns esforços têm sido despendidos pela Sociedade Civil, sem a condição que o Estado possui. A matéria está também no Global Press Institute.

by Deijenane Gomes Reporter, Thursday - March 17, 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Jacauna Medeiros is a teacher in São Lourenço da Mata, a city in northeastern Brazil. But lately, his work has extended beyond the private school where he teaches. In response to low test scores and a lack of government funding, he has single-handedly taken on the task of educating thousands of adults and children here outside of school.

São Lourenço is known for its reserve of pau-brasil, or brazilwood, the tree that gave the country its name. The country will also host the World Cup in 2014. While many say Brazil’s reputation has changed for the better in recent years, new data about the country’s educational record has been a blemish.

In São Lourenço, a lack of teachers, toilets and sports facilities are among the most apparent problems. Without classroom materials, the majority of students here are testing far below average in Portuguese and math.

“The greatest challenge is related to the lack of material support, adequate places for the students to sit, board [and] airing,” Medeiros says.

So Medeiros says he is trying to spark change on his own by teaching new skills and advocating for more engaged citizenship. With an educational radio program and neighborhood-based language classes, he is helping young students learn basic skills and affording older pupils, like housewives who never attended school, a chance to achieve basic literacy and advanced citizenship skills. For Medeiros, education is a tool that can free people from poverty and encourage them to exercise their rights as citizens.

Although education in Brazil has been slowly improving during the last decade, it still produces low test scores compared with other nations in the world. In the impoverished city of São Lourenço, teachers and advocates say education is sorely lacking. Medeiros says he felt he had no option but to begin his own program. Illiteracy among children and adults in their native Portuguese, program costs and a lack of governmental support are his primary challenges. But São Lourenço’s mayor says the city and federal governments have implemented programs to improve education. Still, teachers say it’s not enough. Medeiros is not focused on blame or politics – just action and solutions.

In 2010, Brazil’s GDP was the highest it had been in 25 years, according to government data. But according to a 2008 World Bank report, the country’s lack of education, especially in rural areas, is hurting Brazil’s ability to compete against other developing economies for new investments and economic growth opportunities. Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who completed only the fourth grade, set a goal to give young Brazilians the chance he never had. With much work still to be done, his successor, Dilma Rousseff, who was inaugurated as the country’s first female president in January, called education “the most important issue facing Brazil,” according to The New York Times.

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