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education reform

Remembering Brazilian Education Minister Paulo Renato Souza

Barbara Bruns's picture

In an age of cynicism about politics, it is bittersweet this week to reflect on the life and legacy of Brazil’s former minister of education, Paulo Renato Souza.  Paulo Renato died on June 25 of a massive stroke, at the far too young age of 65.  It is a shock that all of us who knew and loved him will need a long time to overcome. 

His imprint on Brazilian education cannot be exaggerated.   As someone said this week:  “The history of education in Brazil has two parts: before Paulo Renato and after Paulo Renato.”   For those of us who knew Brazil before,  Paulo Renato’s eight year tenure as Minister of Education under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso from 1994-2002 was an eye-opening introduction into the potential  for a single individual at the right moment in history to create political room for maneuver where previously there was none.   Topics that had been “on the table” only in World Bank reports – such as the deep inequalities in education finance in Brazil, or the complete lack of student learning assessment – suddenly  were tackled with sweeping, full-frontal reforms.   

Teachers Need Incentives, But Also Better Tools

Emiliana Vegas's picture

Bill Gates has the right ideaIn his 2010 Annual Letter for his foundation, Bill Gates highlighted the need to focus on “helping teachers improve." While many continue to advocate for increased accountability and incentives for teachers, he mentions the need to provide teachers with more and better information on their performance. As he puts it:

“It is amazing how little feedback teachers get to help them improve, especially when you think about how much feedback their students get."

 

What Are We Doing?

Many of us who work on research and policy advice for developing countries are constantly reminding governments of the need to assess student performance, to improve mechanisms to reward effective teachers and remove those who are not so effective, and to provide information to parents and communities about school quality.