More challenges and innovations to Brazilian education facing Covid-19

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challenges-education-Brazil-pandemic-covid-19April 28 is the International Day of Education. On this date, we sought some data on the challenges to teaching basic education in Brazil, made more challenging by the pandemic. 

Going to and from school was a daily routine common to thousands of Brazilian children and teenagers until the beginning of March 2020, when social isolation and the suspension of presential classes were decreed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. With public and private schools closed, the entire dynamics of classes, exercises and assessments had to be adapted to the virtual environment and, in many places in the country, without the proper structure for distance education (EAD), thousands of children and young people, from basic education to high school, were even more excluded from the learning process.

The effects were felt to a greater extent by students and teachers of public basic education, many of whom did not employ any digital device before the crisis. Three months after the suspension of presential classes, approximately 4.8 million students, equivalent to 18% of the total number of elementary and high school students in the public network, did not receive any type of activity, by electronic means or printed.


In June 2020, the Global Education Monitoring Report (UNESCO report) warned that 258 million children and young people worldwide did not have access to education in the first months of the pandemic. In Brazil, another report, that of the organization Todos pela Educação no Brasil, “Inclusion and education: everyone, without exception" pointed out that the pandemic will generate significant learning losses and should increase school dropout rates and educational inequalities, in a generation of children and teenagers affected by their educational and social impacts, especially that of the most vulnerable, and, with the absence of a post-pandemic “response" that matches it, should bring repercussions that are even more profound and long-term to the country.

Added to this scenario, there was also a slowdown in important agendas that were underway, such as the implementation of the National Common Curricular Base (BNCC), the New High School, and measures aimed at professionalizing the teacher career and training. However, despite the unfavorable scenario, there were important advances, such as the approval of Novo Fundeb (Basic Education Maintenance and Development Fund) - main funding mechanism for Education - thanks to the action of entities representing different segments of education and the National Congress.

The more complex scenario worsened educational indicators


Brazil is part of low- and medium-low income countries, among which 40% did not have policies to support students during the period when schools were closing to contain the advancement of the new coronavirus, nor did they were quick in providing accessibility to new technologies to reduce the digital exclusion, impacting on the impediment of regularity of the curricular programs of the series and in the aggravation of the reach of indicators that are important to the evolution of the educational area.  The world scenario in the face of the pandemic reinforced and further aggravated the exclusion of students from the poorest families and specific groups, such as those who live in a rural environment or in peripheral communities of high social vulnerability.

Four out of ten students, equivalent to 42%, do not have adequate equipment and conditions to access distance education. Regional inequalities are also evident. While almost seven out of ten high school students in the Southeast Region took online classes mediated by their teachers, this proportion was just over four out of ten in the Northeast and South regions.


In the last edition of International Student Assessment Program (PISA) - an exam carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with 15-year-old students from more than 88 countries - the socioeconomic status of Brazilian students was already a predictive factor of performance. In other words, the higher the student's income, the better their performance in the test - and the abyss that separates students from different social classes had been deepening before the pandemic. To give you an idea, in 2009, there was an 84 point gap between rich and poor young people, an indicator that jumped to 97 points in the 2018 reading test. On the average of OECD countries, the distance from Brazilian students is 89 points from students from countries in the best positions.

Solutions to strengthen networks and create innovative practices in education


However, although this impact on education presents a horizon of further delay in reaching the progress indicators, it has been researched and has accelerated proposals that reduce the gap, contributing to the proposal of new practices to overcome these immense challenges.

The project Educational Ideas and Practices Desk, carried out by Neoenergy Institute in partnership with CIEDS - awarded by NGO Advisor as the second best non-governmental organization in the country - is one of these good examples. The project, which started in April 2019, proposes the training of teachers and school administrators, promoting the development of collective and integrated actions in the co-creation and expansion of pedagogical strategies that impact the integral development of students, and revealed innovative practices in education, which work the ten competencies of the National Common Curricular Base (BNCC). One of its most relevant actions, in 2020, was the launch of a platform with the intention of sharing these practices, reflections and new proposals in facing the challenges of education, accessible to all educators in the country.

Searching for the best strategies to take the program to the virtual world and identifying the challenges that impact distance learning courses, the project team invested time and dedication to overcome these difficulties and continue to engage educators. “It was and still is a scenario of a lot of resilience and adaptation. For complex solutions, we think that we need collective work. And we have tried that with the Ideas Desk", says Nathacha Ferreira, coordinator of the project that happens in the municipalities of Caieiras and Francisco Morato, in São Paulo; Itapebi, Itaparica and São Francisco de Conde, in Bahia; Rio do Fogo in Rio Grande do Norte, and Santa Luzia, Junco do Seridó and São José do Sabugi, in Paraíba.


During the pandemic, the Ideas Desk (“Balcão de Ideias”) had the opportunity to try the adaptation of its methodologies and accompaniments for a distance relationship. “In 2020 we need to learn how to do EAD, thinking about the best learning process for our teachers and managers. We conducted a survey to identify the main challenges and best online learning tools, in addition to elaborating content and creating a remote teaching platform”. 

In view of the pandemic scenario and to continue to provide valuable support to education networks, the project defined as strategies the launch of the special page “Education and Covid-19”, within its online platform, available to everyone, and the creation and the implementation of three distance learning courses for the training of teachers and managers.

The page "Education and Covid-19" was launched in June 2020 with the purpose of curating content, events and good practices. “And also to make it possible for education professionals to disseminate their content and initiatives related to the context of the pandemic”, explains Nathacha.

The EAD courses were divided as follows: one for elementary school teachers, with a focus on BNCC and the development of skills; another for teachers of early childhood education, with a focus on BNCC and the development of the field of experience; and a third with a focus on training managers of education departments.


The challenge increased in the face of inequalities in educational networks, such as difficulties in accessing the internet and the distance between schools and students' homes. “We thought of the platform considering the best experience of our teachers and managers, to be easy to use on the mobile phone and without relying so much on a good connection. We created asynchronous courses (which can be done at any time) with tutors, who used several strategies to support educators in the use of resources in this new reality", complements Nathacha.

The network formed since the beginning of the project reached more than 1600 teachers and school administrators and has had an impact on the dissemination of innovative ideas in education through the systematization of pedagogical practices that work with the ten General Competencies of the National Common Curricular Base. In 2020, it was adapted to the remote mode - and the more teachers and educators developed in this new model and received positive feedbacks, the more they realized that they were improving their knowledge and evolving with the digital course.

A completely new training course was built. Each group that is part of the program network had a customized strategy, using what they knew from their participants to develop ways to engage them - creating a course with accessible language, contemporary theoretical-methodological approach and experienced and dynamic trainers.


“I felt insecure because we were not working in person. I was teaching the mother, we were used to talking to the child. We need to teach the mother to teach the child. We were trying to figure out which way to go. Then I saw that it was just an adaptation of what I normally did”, explain Solange Oliveira, teacher of early childhood education in Francisco Morato (SP).

Lucycleide Ferreira, an elementary school teacher in the city of Itaparica, says that the project went further, because although the pandemic was a sad scenario, learning must always encourage play. “I really believe in this part way learning by playing, with playfulness. Teaching comes smoother and the student can assimilate, learn lightly”, it says.

The Itaparica class, of which Lucycleide is a part, is made up of teachers of early childhood education and all of them wanted to expand their educational knowledge, create pedagogical practices and understand more about their students' learning, and had no equipment available. In the beginning, they had many access difficulties and little familiarity with the virtual environment, but they overcame the difficulties with the project's network.

challenges-education-Brazil-pandemic-covid-19In March 2021, the teachers made a point of recording their graduation, in view of all the difficulties and protocols required for the prevention of Covid-19, in order to share this experience with all the teachers in the country. “With the Desk I felt more prepared, trained and with new teaching skills", concludes Lucycleide. The teachers' initiative to celebrate their completed training process says a lot about the results of the project, which has been overcoming challenges and changing the reality of Brazilian education, every day.

Neoenergy Institute 

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