how the state became a reference in comprehensive education

how the state became a reference in comprehensive education

That feeling of wasted time when watching a boring history class. The teacher talking nonstop and the students disinterested – firstly, because they don’t understand what is being explained; secondly, because the form of presentation contributes to dispersion.

This was the typical circumstance of a high school class in Pernambuco in 2005. Today, the mandatory history subject can be replaced by the elective subject “Rolê em Recife”, which is the first to fill vacancies when offered. “Rolê em Recife” passes through the city’s main historical points, and in each of them students learn what happened there.

While education entities are divided when discussing the new secondary education, Pernambuco came out ahead and, since 2007, its score on the Ideb (index that measures the quality of education in Brazil) has been boosted. In 2010, according to the HDI, Pernambuco was among the 10 worst states in Brazil, occupying 19th position among the 27 federative units. If in 2007 the Ideb for the final years of school life in Pernambuco was 3.0, in 2019 it was 4.5, higher than the Brazilian average, which was 4.2.

From 2005 to 2007, an experimental project began that transformed 20 schools in the state into comprehensive schools. With the experience gained, seeing what worked and what needed to be improved, in 2008 the Comprehensive Education Program was created, which increased working hours to 45 hours or 35 hours a week. Today, Pernambuco has 578 comprehensive schools for primary and secondary education. With technical education schools, the number reaches 637 schools.

Pillars of integral education

There are two reasons for this impressive feat: education must be full-time and complete, that is, based on an interdimensional approach.

In addition to expanding working hours, which almost doubled – going from four or five to seven or nine hours a day -, the state Department of Education began offering interdimensional education, addressing the student in all their dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional .

The managers assessed that it was not enough to just leave the student more time at school, that time needed to be of quality, allowing students to take classes that aroused their interest. At the same time, this differentiation in the school curriculum could only occur if there was an increase in the number of hours.

In addition to the interdimensional approach, education in the state is supported by two other pillars. The first is to help the student draw up a life plan in various fields to know where they want to go. In this way, the student is encouraged to be the protagonist of his own educational training, which brings him the responsibility for his choices.

The costs of expanding full-time education, without a shadow of a doubt, are higher. But unlike what some studies point out that indicate double spending, the state’s executive secretary of Comprehensive and Professional Education, Ana Cristina Dias, explains that this is not quite the case. “Costs do not effectively double, because there are fixed costs that are independent, for example: directors’ salaries, surveillance services, kitchen staff. I increase the amount of food, but not the team,” she explains. In an attempt to reduce costs, the idea is that the next schools will be able to receive more students and, therefore, have a cheaper cost per student.

New programs and adaptations

“Ganhe o Mundo” was a program created in 2011 with the aim of encouraging students to study a foreign language. English and Spanish were offered after school to prepare students who were interested in doing a summer exchange. For four weeks, the selected young people had the possibility of studying in another country and were financed by the state government. Suspended since 2019 due to problems with the state’s Court of Auditors, the program inspired the city of Recife, which launched, this year, a similar proposal in the municipality, “Recife around the world”.

In 2017, Pernambuco implemented double day schools. Even with full-time education, many students needed a shift to dedicate themselves to another activity, such as working as a young apprentice, for example. In this way, they were unable to fulfill their 45-hour weekly workload. The time options are from 7am to 2pm or from 2:10pm to 9:10pm. For secondary education, the state has 57 double day schools.

The challenges continue

“It’s still not the way we dream, because we dream of more things”, shares Ana Cristina. The challenges faced by the Pernambuco Department of Education are not over. The department wishes to not only expand, but also improve the physical structure for the entire school community, offer teachers opportunities to develop across the board and train students to become future teachers. This last purpose can be achieved through partnerships with universities with the aim of promoting the teaching staff of state and municipal networks.

Pernambuco has also been working on a collaborative system to expand comprehensive education to municipalities that do not have schools in this system. With this, the government intends to further improve education rates in the state.

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