I spent my summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My professional and academic interests are on politics and development in Latin America, particularly on innovation in the public sector. My decision to spend my summer in Rio de Janeiro came as a mixture of academic and personal curiosity. On one side, I was familiar with some of the innovation efforts been carried out by the Secretary of Education of Rio and I was eager to learn more about their programs. On the other side, despite its political and economic importance for Latin America I knew very little about Brazil. Hence, the offer to intern at the Secretary of Education of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro came just in time and I was ready to depart to my destination.
The Secretary of Education of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro (SME) is in charge of the municipal red of schools of Rio de Janeiro, that is, a total of 1.076 schools including kinder garden and elementary level, with 633.449 students enrolled and 42.536 teachers. The challenges of the public system are numerous and diverse, especially for the schools located in dangerous areas.
In order to improve the quality of education in public schools and the quality of life of the communities where they are located, the current Secretary of Education, Claudia Costín, along with her team started to implement several very interesting initiatives. One of these initiatives, for which I had the opportunity to work, is Escolas do Amanhã, which was created for schools that were in favelas recently pacified. Given the weak presence of the government in these communities, the program changed the structure of these schools to include services that supported the community, like health and parenting services.
Another unique program currently in place is called GENTE, which promotes a new concept of school that fully integrates the new educational technologies and places the student in the center of the learning process. The pilot school for the program is called Escola Municipal Andre Uraní and it is located in Rocinha, the biggest favela of Rio. I also had the opportunity of working with the team from GENTE, visit the pilot school and learn some of the philosophy behind their model. In the case of GENTE, all the students are given a laptop computer through which they do most of their learning. This is possible thanks to Educopédia, an online platform of digital classrooms where students learn the curriculum while teachers follow their progress and evaluation, also included in the platform.
I spend a total of two months and a half in Rio de Janeiro. The internship was inspiring and very interesting, as it was the rest of experience in the country. The city is beyond beautiful, the culture is vibrant, the juices are natural and the beaches are amazing. I was lucky enough to be in Rio during the Confederation Coup, the visit of the Pope and the starting of the protests that are still taking place all over Brazil. It was a great summer indeed.
Posted by Giuliana Irene Carducci Sanchez, 2-Year SIPA MPA, concentrating in EPD with specialization in Management