Teachers in Brazil
In recent years, the challenges of teachers in Brazil have become a focus of the Brazilian government. With the introduction of a new Plan for Education, issues such as a shortage of teachers, inadequate pay and teacher training and unequal access to education in the country are now receiving greater attention.

Yet, a recent outbreak of violence in the form of a school shooting, controversy on the teaching of particular subjects, and widespread teacher dissatisfaction continue to make the profession an unappealing one. The following are the top 10 facts about teachers in Brazil.

Top 10 Facts About Teachers in Brazil

  1. Many Brazilian teachers report feeling undervalued. A recent study has shown that nearly half of the teachers in Brazil would not recommend the teaching profession to students.
  2. Educational reforms have targeted teacher quality. The district of São Paulo has introduced systems to improve its teacher’s skills. For instance, teaching coaches are provided in every school. This initiative awards teachers and schools meeting annual targets. Additionally, ongoing training place greater value on education and provide teachers with positive motivation.
  3. Class sizes in Brazil have dropped by eight percent between 2005 and 2016. Additionally, many teachers in Brazil are working at two schools daily. This is due to a shortage of teachers in many communities. As a result, they teach in four-hour shifts with little time for lesson planning and study.
  4. Teacher education has only recently been standardized. Before 1996, teachers were not required to have a post-secondary degree and many had not attended college. Now, there is a requirement for teachers to obtain a degree and pass a national examination. As of 2010, 40 percent of all working teachers in the São Paulo district remain unaccredited. As a result, free courses are now available to teachers to improve practical classroom skills.
  5. Salaries for teachers in Brazil are below average. According to the OECD, in 2018, the maximum average salary for teachers in Brazil was $24,100 USD. This is in comparison to the average of $45,900 per year in surrounding countries. This places many teachers in a lower socioeconomic status. Additionally, in recent years, low pay has also contributed to several teacher strikes in Brazil, some that have turned violent.
  6. Teachers provide support for students living in poverty. In 2013, 2.7 percent of students in Brazil between 5 and 14 years old were working, rather than attending school. Of those, many also make up the 7.2 percent of Brazilians reportedly illiterate as of 2015. Historically, many Brazilian parents doubt the value of education for their children. That being said, teachers are urged to monitor student attendance and encourage parents to keep their children in school with government ‘Bolsa Familia’ incentives.
  7. The number of indigenous teachers in Brazil has grown. Brazil is home to about 900,000 indigenous peoples. Children in mostly rural indigenous communities are four times more likely to work rather than attend school. Over the last two decades, the Brazilian government has adopted a commitment to provide education to indigenous children in their traditional languages and using traditional methods. Indigenous schools are autonomous, but legally overseen by the Brazilian government and staffed by specially trained teachers from within the community.
  8. Following the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president in 2018, a right-wing movement called Escola Sem Partido or School without Party (ESP) gained ground. Responding to allegations that teachers have spread left-leaning propaganda in classrooms, advocates have called for a ban on the promotion of controversial political and social views in education. Critics argue that the ban violates constitutional freedom to teach and learn. Conservative legislator Ana Caroline Campagnolo has suggested that students report teachers in violation, resulting in a rash of police encounters in classes.
  9. Recent violence has led to the death of two teachers. In March of 2019, two teachers and five students were killed in a school shooting in a public school in Suzano. The incident was one of a handful of school shootings since 2000, which remain rare in Brazil but are causing concern about the security of classrooms and the safety of teachers and students.
  10. The use of technology as an educational resource is growing. Half of all Brazilian teachers reported using technology, particularly mobile phones, in lesson planning and gathering resources for the classroom. The number of educational resources available, including apps, pre-prepared lesson plans, and online videos, has significantly increased. The district of Sao Paulo issued a $5.5 billion BRL contract in 2013 for technology and educational content. Samsung, Unicef, and the Brazilian organization, Nova Escola, are among the companies gathering original content, providing online lessons and teacher training materials and targeting plans to improve student engagement.

The top 10 facts about teachers in Brazil indicate obstacles to improvement, but a growing effort. Reforms are being put in place to fund schools and increase the number and quality of teachers. These improvements show promise to both Brazilian educators and students.

– Marissa Field

Photo: Agustin Diaz

SriLanka_education_quality TSEP

The government of Sri Lanka launched Transforming School Education Project (TSEP) in 2012 to run through 2016. According to News Line, the objective of TSEP is enhanced access and quality of primary and secondary education. The project addresses the country’s underfunded education, wide ranged regional disparities and limited focus on key skills that students need to compete in today’s global economy.

“IDA has provided financing for the education sector in Sri Lanka over a long period of time to improve the quality of human capital through effective education and skills development,” The World Bank said of their contribution. “This $100 million project is the fifth education project in Sri Lanka.”

Strategies used to achieve school enrollment and attendance included health and nutrition programs to provide meals for children in poor communities and the building of sanitation facilities. In addition, special education programs were implemented for students who required alternative forms of education.

TSEP contributed to a spike in students reaching grade 11 up from 82 percent in 2011 to 85 percent in 2016. Of 3.2 million students, 52 percent were female.

School-based management and teacher development improved student learning and strengthened academic performance. One reform established a system for conducting national assessments of learning outcomes in order to better reflect modern international trends in curriculum practice. TSEP seeks to orient Sri Lanka’s education system to the world of work by focusing on subjects like English, IT, science, mathematics, commerce and management, as well as improving current curricula.

According to the World Bank, Sri Lanka has 4 million school children but only 215,000 teachers and around 10,000 schools. Only 7.3 percent of the government budget was invested in education in 2014.

By backing TSEP, The World Bank is supporting the Sri Lanka government’s development initiative Program for School Improvement. School officials are expected to be joined by local communities in the management and administration of schools, as greater responsibility and power will be delegated to them.

Emily Ednoff

Photo: Flickr

There have been huge gains in global education recently. Schools have been built, enrollment numbers have soared and equality has risen. While much of the focus has been on these factors – schools and teachers – there is another that needs more attention.

Teachers. Love or hate them, they are key to education anywhere. But there is a problem associated with them in the developing world: there are not enough of them in many places. Ninety-three countries around the world do not have enough teachers. United Nations estimates suggested that the world needed four million teachers by this year in order to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of primary education for all. Of this four million, 2.6 million were needed to replace teachers either retiring from or quitting the profession.

Even more teachers will be needed for the next round of development targets set for 2030. Up to 27 million teachers are needed to meet the goal of universal primary education for all by 2030. India alone will require three million new teachers and Sub-Saharan Africa will need 6.2 million.

One issue that comes with the need for more teachers, is that for every teacher trained and put to work, more children are born. This is especially true in Africa, where many country’s populations are expected to explode if they are not already. For every 100 primary school-aged children in 2012, there will be 147 in 2030. This is why out of the 6.2 million new teachers needed, 2.3 million will be completely new positions at schools around Africa. This presents another problem: to pay for all these new teachers, $5.2 billion will be needed for their salaries.

Fueled by desperation for more teachers, many countries fail to train their teachers to the required standards. One in three countries with data available shows “less than 75 percent of primary school teachers were trained according to national standards; and less than 50 percent in Angola, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and South Sudan.” This means that for every one trained teacher in Chad, there are 101 students. In the Central African Republic, the ratio is even worse: 138 students for every trained teacher

It could be said that simply training teachers and putting them into school is not actually that daunting of a task. But the real issue at the root of the global teacher shortage is the rate that teachers are leaving the profession. Teaching in the developing world, where survival comes before everything, the pay is not enough. It is for this reason that 24 of the 28 million teachers needed by 2030 will serve to replace other teachers leaving the profession for.

To combat this, countries are trying a whole range of different tactics. In Indonesia and Benin, the governments have raised teachers to civil service status, and in Korea seasoned teachers are enticed to stay with salaries more than double what new teachers make.

Addressing the global teacher shortage is extremely important in the fight against poverty. Education is a gateway out of destitution, but more properly trained teachers are essential for this to be true. “An education system is only as good as its teachers.”

Greg Baker

Sources: Worldwide Learn, BBC, The Guardian, UNESCO
Photo: The Recruiting Times