Brazil’s 2013 Plan at Hand: Fixing the Education Gap ASAP

“In the long term, most plans are of little importance but that said,
thoughtful planning is always essential.”
— Winston Churchill

This past summer, when the last 2012 London Olympics athletes finally left England with their medals in tow, and after the last Confetti gun was fired at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the whole UK let out a collective, appreciative sigh. Understandably worn out, her majesty’s government wasted no time in passing on the ‘Party Host’ torch (pardon the pun) to Brazil.  Their Southern Atlantic neighbor will spend the next four years serving as the official ‘Celebration Nation’ not just to the 2016 Olympics but also to the 2014 World Cup community.

Never mind Brazil’s infamous reputation concerning the ability to throw one fun carnival; that’s not exactly helpful when it comes knocking out a housekeeping ‘To-Do’ list many miles long.  Every Culture,  Tourism, and Engineering office continues to spend day and night strategizing ways to accommodate a guest list exceeding millions.  And forget the tea candles, place cards, or pressed napkins.  For now, the country’s education leaders will spend next year’s majority trying to fix the education gap that’s holding back amongst other things Brazil’s booming growth spurt.

While in São Paulo for BBC World News, Katty Kay’s latest report on this topic explains how looming concerns over slower economic growth, inflation, etc., stand to nullify every progressive educational benchmark Brazil’s surpassed since the early/mid 90s.  Moreover, the leading international research firm PISA, recently profiled national education systems, ranking Brazil 53rd.  It’s a concerning placement, taking into account that Brazil’s economy -now the world’s #6 GDP- just bumped the UK to spot #7 not all that long ago.  To point, Kay notes that if Brazil wishes to sustain noticeable progress, “it will require more than muscle to lift a country into modernity; they will need human resources too.”  And while it’s not an exact science,  the process to improve a nation’s ability to educate their domestic population needs to begin with reviewing all teacher feedback.

It’s extremely risky when a government, underestimates a teacher’s role (no matter the grade level) and their ability to influence the educational community locally, nationally, and abroad.  Speaking candidly with Kay about the subject, Priscila Cruz, a prominent Education Campaigner, reiterates that Brazil’s 2+ million teachers posses a great voting power.  In serving as the Executive Director to the organization, Todos Pela Educação, Cruz operates an invaluable company, using the latest technology and media to distribute countless necessary resources, in order to help any Brazilian teacher receive better professional training.  As a result when it comes to electing senior officials who have the power to change government policies concerning education, more teachers will cast knowledge votes.  Any social, economic, or political change relies upon the individual citizen’s ability to maintain a versed political understanding- all party loyalties aside.

As Kay’s article for BBC points out, it’s true that “over the past 20 years Brazil has done an impressive job of getting more students into the education system.”  However that success translates to a different problem, as enrolling more students, now requires schools to expand their class availability.  Furthermore, if teachers fail to receive extensive training before they actually start teaching their classes – the negative impact gradually trickles down and directly impacts every Brazilian student.  Although sophomoric, many young students voice their genuine understanding that gaining even the most basic education, acts as a passport that will eventually grant access to creating a successful future.  Such enthusiastic, insistent student potential deserves far more than an educational environment that underserves the teachers and their instructional materials.

Failing to implement such serious changes will not only hurt Brazil’s academic reputation internationally; there’s also weighty financial implications to consider.  It stands to reason that if Brazil’s working demographic isn’t sufficiently educated, then it will force the present and future commercial development to hire a labor force – not locally from Brazil – but more expensive professionals, eager to relocate overseas.  A Brazilian workforce lacking transferable skills, also jeopardizes the ability to diversify the nation’s economic activity.  It’s exceptionally dangerous for any country to rely on a single trade exchange, i.e. only exporting natural resources or supplying commodities to China.  Hence, if Brazil wishes to evolve past the ’emerging leader’ role then they must prepare to keep pace with Asia/US/European competition.

Without question, luck, timing and a rare geographic/coincidental proximity between two such monumental events like the Olympics and World Cup all give Brazil premium opportunity to show off the nation’s historic legacy and other strengths.  But in order to make this global presentation a truly successful, resonating performance they must first figure out how to redesign the way both lower/higher education rouses the population.  Once this internal enlightening begins, it’s only a matter of time before Brazil’s talent pool will flood into the market place.  It will serve Brazil well to follow their national motto more closely than ever over the next decade.  It’s an unremitting philosophy… Order first, then Progress.

Verdade, meus amigos, muito verdadeiro. // True, my friends, very true.

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

London: Student Visa Chaos jostles an Education Capitol

“Education aims to give you a boost up the ladder of knowledge.  But too often, it causes a cramp while you sit on one of its rungs.”  ~Martin H. Fischer

Every now and then, it’s important to keep an ‘ice breaker’ question handy, just in case the small talk chatter during a monthly happy hour fades, because really there’s only so much conversation mileage when it comes to football.  So last week during a monthly ‘Wine Roundtable’ as my friends like to call it, someone put forth a question to the crew that dumbstruck all conversation mid-sentence.  Which gig would you hypothetically avoid at literally all cost: Penn State’s current VP of Marketing or RIM/Blackberry’s CMO responsibilities?

Having read about the recent student visa issues taking place overseas in London, I chimed in to offer a third alternative, “Well either way at least they’re not the immigration lawyers on case at London Metropolitan University…” and with that we all clinked glasses, lifting a hopeful prayer to the Paperwork Gods.  As every international student knows too well, dealing with visa administration/processing requires a patience threshold to rivals Job’s.  So in an extra effort to send out optimistic energy to the overseas students under fire across the pond, I also lit some extra candles – better safe than sorry.

Courtesy of CSmonitor.com

In order to resolve any problem, it’s paramount to first consider why/how things collapse, so that later when creating future operations, new procedures avoid former detrimental, mistakes. However no amount of mediation will correct a disagreement if those arguing fail to establish consistent, fair terms outlining how they’ll proceed.

In the case of LMU versus the UK Border Agency (UKBA), it’s evidently clear that neither party knows how to handle the system pitfalls concerning student immigration data and visa control.  As a result, according to a BBC World News report, come December 2012 “some 2,o00+ foreign students are affected and have until 1 December to find an alternative course or arrange to leave the UK.”  Comparatively, this almost makes waiting to find out about flight cancellations feel like a spa treatment.  It’s true, although LMU’s current predicament fortunately excludes child abusers and/or tanking stock values – it’s not exactly a rosy picture.

When it comes to discussing international student/staff university recruitment successfully, this London campus carries the burden to clarify issues involving the UKAB so that other UK colleges won’t endure a similar fate.  In a statement to the media, the campus administration made sure to note how, “London Met appreciates that as the first UK university to be placed in this position, [we have] a duty to the sector to try and bring an end to the damage arising from UKBA’s decision.”  Moreover since coming off a summer long media celebration involving Olympic preparation and a monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s certainly understandable that the press openly welcome a new feature subject.

Courtesy of Hydromontage.com

In an effort to bring some relief and order to chaos, a task force with representatives from the academics’ union UCU, the UKBA, and the National Union of Students will help genuinely qualified international students enduring the investigation figure out alternative enrollment options and get back to their studies as quickly as possible.  A wise Englishman once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.”  It’s a good lesson to remember while waiting to re-enter the classroom, but until someone issues a logical verdict, LMU’s foreign students must try to keep calm and carry on.

Here’s hoping to a swift solution.

How Are You Using Social Media to Interact Across the World’s Stage?

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players..They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” William Shakespeare | As You Like It | Act 2 Scene 7

William Shakespeare crafted it.  Literary critics throughout the ages have toted it as prophetic genius, and it rings perhaps even more true now in the 21st century than it ever did when he wrote As You Like It in 1600 A.D.  In taking inspiration from the great Will.I.Am, this week’s emerging media question probes a bit further tainting the above idea with an emerging media context…

How Are You Using Social Media to Interact Across the World’s Stage?

Do you tweet to friends in France about how your dreams to one day live abroad exotically?  Do you swap emails with a Financial Analyst in Tokyo so that you know more about Asia’s financial context than your colleagues the next day at work?  Do you follow a design blog that always releases funky and cool fonts from that artist you ran into on Twitter during a #fontfantic chat and then traded contact info with?  Perhaps you’re even playing international fantasy football (aka Soccer) with a bunch of amigos in Spain since they will know how to trade players better than mates from England or Germany.  Thanks to social networks and evolving technology, you’re talking victory moves with World Cup winners.  You’re living in real time and digitally interacting across the World’s stage at the click of a mouse and the touch of a key.  Freedom reigns supreme, information is abound, and new relationships are forming while you travel through life’s journey.

In an age when employees perform 3 jobs as 1 person, 9am to 7pm is status quo and mobile devices operate as smaller laptops – tracking history, memories, and older data also employs using social media to a certain extent.  LinkedIn  users can archive messages sitting in their Inbox, Facebook holds vaults of pictures from Spring Break, former birthday parties, and family, Yelp files Digital records and catalogues comments we left about the Asian restaurants we favored and hated for future reference.  Again, every day life continues to interact at an increasing rate digitally through each of these mediums.  Conversations are stemming from what we have in common and we’re finding out what we have in common with one another when we connect online in some way.

For now I want to leave these questions open for reader comments and observations.  Share your stories, speculate on how society is using social media to interact across the world’s stage amongst various groups of players.  What parts have you held journeying across the digital landscape?  What role and where will you take on next?  We’ll mull over some other examples about interacting through social media across the world stage.  Think connectivity.  Embrace it digitally.