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Nonformal Education

The Brazilian educational system has faced many problems throughout its almost 500 years of existence. As a means of finding solutions in this crucial area, the government has developed a considerable number of nonformal and/or informal educational programs.

The federal government has industrial and agricultural technical schools throughout the country. Business associations operate other institutions, such as Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial or SENAI (National Industrial Apprenticeship Service), and Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Comercial or SENAC (National Commercial Apprenticeship Service). They correspond to primary and secondary schools and are free of tuition. Training for managers and employers of small business is provided by Serviço de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas or SEBRAE (Service to Support Small Enterprises).

The international community considered the creation of SENAC and SENAI in the early 1940s as a pioneering model for Latin America's educational system. These successful Brazilian institutions offered commercial and industrial training programs, which were adopted by other countries due to their high quality.

Most of the nonformal systems of education in Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s were designed for adult education in an attempt to eradicate illiteracy. Paulo Freire's Movimento de Cultura Popular or MCP (Movement of Popular Culture), Projeto Minerva (a radio broadcast program), Movimento Brasileiro de Alfabetização or MOBRAL (Illiteracy Program), and Programa Nacional de Teleducação or PRONTEL (National Program of Television Education) are examples of programs developed during this period.

In the beginning of the 1990s, universities and technical schools started offering a number of short training courses on a diverse variety of subjects, from soccer to philosophy. Currently, in the major cities, both private and public institutions offer programs on secondary level administration and computer programming. There is also competition among private institutions to offer courses in foreign languages and preparation for international examinations like the GRE, the GMAT, and the TOEFL. Additional nonformal governmental projects held by the Secretaria de Educação Fundamental or SEF (Secretariat of Fundamental Education) include the establishment of a public educational policy for indigenous schools and the expansion of the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools to include environmental issues.

Contemporary technology has also affected the non-formal education sector in others ways. In the past decade, numerous online educational programs were launched in Brazil. These programs provide students with a demanding, creative, and interactive online learning environment. The UNB (University of Brasília) is one of the governmental institutions that offer a variety of online courses.

On an international level, the Ministry of Education maintains intense technical and financial cooperation to improve educational needs and human resources. It works in close contact with the Ministério das Relaço~es Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Productive results have been attained through contact with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), OEA (Organization of the American States), OEI (Organization of Iberian-American States), BID (Inter-American Development Bank), and BIRD (World Bank). The Ministry of Education also participates in the meetings of the Ministers of Education, in the meetings of Ministers of Education of the community of countries speaking the Portuguese language, in the meetings for Ministers of Education of the Inter-American Council of integral development of the OEA, and in the Conference of Iberian-American Education of OEI.

Distance Education: At the start of the twenty-first century, the Brazilian federal government created the Secretaria de Educação a Distância or SEED (Secretariat of Distance Education). This is an example of the government's commitment to modernizing education. SEED strategically applies new technologies and methodologies in order to diversify and raise the standard of education quality.

Television is a major vehicle for education. Distance learning is done with the help of the TV Escola (TV School), which reaches 60,000 schools. It is broadcast on a special channel by satellite and provides four hours of programs that are repeated four times a day. TV Escola is also a program designed for teachers and is updated by the Reforma do Ensino Médio or REM (Reform of Secondary Education). It was created in October of 1999 as an experimental program and proved to be one of the most efficient tools that the Ministry of Education had for updating the methods and resources of primary and secondary level teachers.

Both public and private TV stations offer courses and support programs for basic education. Telecurso 2001, for example, which is broadcast by TV Globo, is a program intended to prepare students for elementary and secondary school equivalency examinations.

The Programa Nacional de Informática na Educação or ProInfo (National Program for Information Technology in Education), created in 1977, was a program established to train teachers and improve learning through computer technology. Approximately 30,000 computers had been installed in more than 2,000 schools. In 2001, this program was expected to reach 6,000 schools, or 7.5 million students, with a total of 100,000 computers. The pedagogical use of technological equipment is assured by means of the proper training of the teachers of the benefited schools and by linking these computers to the Núcleo de Tecnologia Educacional or NTE (Nucleus of Educational Technology). Nearly 20,000 teachers have already been trained for this program and 223 NTEs have been created.

Recognizing the need for skilled educators, a national plan for the expansion of nonformal education was created in 2001 called Proformação-Programa de Formação de Professores em Exercício. It is an educational program designed for teachers. The program started in January of 2000 in the states of Amazonas and Bahia and provided training for teachers from the public network who did not meet the established minimum qualification standards required by law. The government plans to qualify 15,000 teachers from the public network.

Programa de Apoio à Pesquisa em Educação a Distância or PAPED (Program to Aid Research in Distance Education) is also an important program for the development of educational alternatives. It was created in 1997 to finance theses and dissertations on long-distance learning projects and/or on new information and communication technologies applied to education.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceBrazil - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education