South America: Science Education in Brazil Striving for Sucess

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BRASILIA — Conquering all other countries in South America with its size, Brazil totals half of the land mass in South America. Not only is Brazil the largest country in South and Latin America, Brazil is the fifth highest populated country in the world and contains one third of the Latin American population.

Upon arrival from Portuguese Settlers in 1500, Brazil has flourished as one of the world’s highest production in mining, agriculture and manufacturing, while displacing a dense history that is as diverse as the beaches that run along the Atlantic Ocean.

With its immense natural beauty, such as the Amazon River and rainforest, Brazil has become one of the most sought out tourist destinations in the world. So much so, Brazil was graced with hosting the 2014 World Cup, which recorded 24.7 million U.S. viewers of the event. Coincidentally, Brazil has garnered the most victories in the history of the World Cup with five Championships, the last one won in 2002.

Among Brazil’s accomplishments as a country, education has been essential for the country’s success, particularly in the field of science.

Science education in Brazil has developed at a rapid pace since 1950 when Brazil started offering graduate courses in science related fields. Still, Brazil only offered graduate science courses at few schools until the mid-1960s when the government recognized the significance of science education in Brazil as a reliable source for technological advancement and economic growth.

Throughout the 1960s, science education in Brazil seized the opportunity of expanding scientific knowledge for students in hopes that these science related courses would spark creativity and imagination for the future generations of Brazil.

The ’60s acted as a revolutionary period for science education in Brazil, providing innovations to the education curriculum. Certain events provided a stepping stone for science education in Brazil including the Pilot Project for Physics Education in 1963 that was created to provide courses in physics at secondary schools, based on modern technology and more science experiments for children. By 1969, Brazilian teachers began constructing their curriculum for secondary education around educating students on physics.

Another significant victory for science education in Brazil was the science centers that were established to develop teachers’ understanding of science and train professors. Established in 1965, science centers were built in Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador, along with many other cities, and today there are roughly 100 science centers.

Decades later, Brazil set out for another innovative development in science education in Brazil. In 1996, The Brazilin Academy of Sciences agreed with the French government to host 12 Brazilian Educators to France for four weeks in May 2001 to witness the Lamap Project in French schools. The following year in 2002, 40 more Brazilian educators traveled to France to observe the Lamap Project and receive training.

Coined “The ABC Project”, the traveling Brazilian professors and teachers reported back with praise of the French training techniques and decided to implement the ABC project in 12 schools in Brazil, including the University of Sao Paulo.

E.W Hamburger, who conducted the report on the ABC project, defined the project as “a pilot project designed to evaluate if and how science education with experimentation, using the Lamap approach, should be introduced into Brazilian schools. The expansion of the project into many school systems will serve to improve its visibility for a wide range of school systems, under different situations and with different resources.”

As recent as 2008, the Brazilian government pursued a new development to increase productivity for science education in Brazil. The Brazilian Plan for the Development of Education is built off of three main principles: systemic, territorial and empowering education, which they intend will positively impact all education in Brazil.

Through the Brazilian Plan for the Development of Education, Brazil has set forth guidelines for the creation of the Federal Institutes for Education, Science and Technology, resulting in the construction of 354 institutes that would focus on teaching science and technology to high schoolers, while also training thousands of teachers.

Science education in Brazil has proven to have developed into a booming success, with the Brazilian government continuing to seek innovations for science related courses in Brazil.

Students in Brazil have also shown their enthusiasm towards pursuing a career in science, provided by the World Bank report that 48,622 scientific journals are published each year in Brazil.
Considering Brazil did not even offer science related graduate courses in 1950, science education in Brazil has been encouraging, proving that the pursuit of science is achievable.

Patrick Greeley

Photo: Flickr

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