BBC News - Booming Brazil held back by education gap

BBC News - Booming Brazil held back by education gap

The BBC's Katty Kay says tackling vested interests makes educational reform in Brazil extremely difficult

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It's the start of the day for the students at the Wilma Flor public school in the eastern suburbs of Sao Paulo. Only it's not 8am, or even 9am. It's 1pm.
Wilma Flor runs three shifts. The first group of students has school in the morning, the next in the afternoon and the final shift doesn't start until 7pm.
Over the past 20 years Brazil has done an impressive job of getting more students into the education system. Many of the children here at Wilma Flor are the first in their families to finish high school. Some have parents who didn't even finish elementary school.
That's the good news in Brazil's education story. Here's the bad news.
Brazil now has the sixth biggest economy in the world, but its education standards lag far behind. In an international study of education systems,PISA, it came in at 53rd. That threatens to hold this country back.
Political will
No-one here disputes that those figures must change, and soon. Brazil's recent economic boom has depended in large part on exporting its vast natural resources to other growing economies.

As one Brazilian economist suggested to me, this country's rapid expansion can be explained in one word: China.
But if Brazil wants to move beyond being simply a commodity provider, or if China's growth slows and it demands fewer Brazilian resources, then what?
Put simply, if Brazil wants to develop from an emerging economy to an emerged economy it will have to do a better job educating its population.
Improving education takes time - time this country doesn't have much of. Tackling the vested interests of administrators, teachers' unions and bureaucrats makes it one of the most politically difficult things any country can do. Look at the fights America has gone through over standardised testing.
Priscilla Cruz, a campaigner for education reform from Todos Pela Educacao, sums up the challenge like this: "The political issue is that teachers are voters, and in Brazil there are two million of them that can decide elections, so it is very hard to make changes".
One change that teachers' unions reject would be to make it easier to get rid of teachers who don't perform.
In Brazil, teachers can get tenure after only three years on the job, and once they have tenure they can't be fired.
Out at the Wilma Flor school we found teachers clearly wanting to do better but held back, ironically, by a lack of teaching for themselves.
When Regilene Cunha entered her first classroom as a teacher she had zero practical experience. She had the university qualification to be a teacher, but it was all academic theory, no hands on practice.
It was, she admits, a terrifying experience: "I felt insecure and apprehensive. The same as new teachers now."
Importing Europe
If Brazil's schools and universities cannot provide the skilled workforce to satisfy its economic needs, then Brazilian companies will look elsewhere for labour.
The government is exploring ways to reduce immigration restrictions to make it easier for technical professionals, particularly those with experience in the petro-chemical industry, can come and work in Brazil.
It's not lost on Brazilian companies that the recession in Europe means highly educated people are prepared to travel across the Atlantic for a job.
Joao Nunes arrived in Sao Paolo a year ago from Portugal. He's an engineer who works for a head-hunting company.
"When you talk about engineers, Brazil has a huge demand of technical professionals to face the growth of the country," he says.
Yet even he admits this is a short-term solution to Brazil's problem.
In the long run, the country cannot rely on engineers from Lisbon to make up its labour shortage, it will have to develop them at home.

Ben Tavener, Freelance British journalist living in Brazil

Ben Tavener, Freelance British journalist living in Brazil

Ben Tavener, British journalist and amateur photographer living in South Brazil .
Ben works freelance, but has been Senior Reporter at The Rio Times since August 2011.

Listen to Tom Reaoch interview Ben Tavener, PLAY  or DOWNLOAD

Before moving to Brazil, he was producer at the BBC World Service, where he specialized in Russia and the Former Soviet Union after studying Russian at Cambridge and living in Moscow for over a year.
However, his blog, Ben´s Brazil, focuses on his insights into news, travel and life in Brazil and nearby.
Ben Tavener studied Modern & Medieval Languages at University of Cambridge and has contributed for a number of world media, including BBC News, CTV News, and Voice of Russia
He speaks English (native), Russian (fluent) and Portuguese (nearly fluent!), as well as good French & Spanish.

Danilo Telles, Trainee in Forensic Services at PwC Campinas, Brazil.

Danilo Telles, Trainee in Forensic Services at PwC Campinas, Brazil.

Danilo Telles is a trainee in Forensic Services at PwC Campinas- Brazil.
Danilo talks about challenges in finding employment in the UK and in Europe and why he returned to work in Brazil.
Listen to Tom Reaoch interview Danilo Telles  PLAY or DOWNLOAD

His professional experience  prior to PwC  includes a five year experience in London, where he  gained his Bachelor´s degree in International Business Management from London Metropolitan University achieving a second upper class honorsfinal grade.
Throughout his studies in the United Kingdom, Danilo worked in an entertainment company  where he became deputy manager, responsible for staff training, elaboration of reports, accounts, shop management , market research, audit, fraud prevention and deliver of an excellent customer service.
As part of his degree, Danilo successfully completed modules such as Business Accounting,Economics for Business, Management and the Global Economy, Data Analysis for Business Decision Making, Management Investigation and Report and Global Challenges for Business, Management and Leadership.

Language Barriers in Brazil Business

Language Barriers in Brazil Business | The Rio Times | Brazil News

By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit says that Brazil is among the worst at coping with the language barrier of the English-speaking world of business, and that deals are being hindered because of it. Experts are warning that, with increased international interest in businesses based in Brazil, the need to break down the barrier has never been more acute.
Juventude Cidadã in 2009 was launched to offer courses in a range of fields with basic English in Bahia, Brazil News
Juventude Cidadã in 2009 was launched to offer courses in a range of fields with basic English in Bahia, photo by Aristeu Chagas/Agecom Secom Bahia.
The report says that 74 percent of the Brazilians surveyed admitted their company has suffered “financial losses as a result of failed cross-border transactions” – much higher than the global average of around fifty percent.
The Brazilians who took part in the study seemed to recognize the issue – described in the report as a “significant hindrance to effective cross-border relations” for companies – as 77 percent of them believe better communications could improve productivity, while in the UK, for example, the figure is only 43 percent.
Although expanding internationally is always fraught with complications, the prospect was seen as most difficult by Brazilian companies – nearly eighty percent of Brazilians surveyed said cross-border difficulties hampered their expansion plans.
With the boundaries between old and new economies become increasingly interdependent, experts are warning that good communication skills have never been more critical. English is the recognized international language of the business world, and as such Monica Szwarc - cross-cultural coach and Country Manager for Bridge Brazil - stresses the importance.
“Internationalization is becoming each day more relevant to Brazilian companies in general as they start to move beyond the local market to grow further aiming at sustaining long term competitiveness and becoming major players in the global economy,” she says.
English Lessons at school, Brazil News
The Ministry of Education says young Brazilians are much better prepared than their parents were for the English-language world of business, photo by Wilson Dias/ABr.
However Ms. Szwarc says that schools are taking the situation seriously, and are aware of the needs of the market in terms of the level of language control a student needs to exhibit – and to this end Bridge Brazil will be opening specialized, business-focused, and even oil-industry-focused courses from this August.
Ultimately, she concludes, the situation is definitely improving: “Young Brazilians are more familiar with English in general and very keen to invest in international education. Governmental programs have shown increased awareness of the need for English Proficiency and we now have kids that are able to face the challenge and compete at the best universities around the world.”
The language barrier can also be seen as an opportunity for those with an entrepreneurial initiative though, to capitalize on doing business where others dare not tread. As a positive example of work with Brazil, the report highlights the experience of Swedish truck manufacturer Scania, which now delivers more vehicles to Brazil than any other country.
Scania believes technology has played a huge role in improving the performance of cross-border teams, but that cultural barriers – particularly between Sweden and Brazil, whose work cultures the company describes as “pole apart” – are “always present and need to be constantly managed”, particularly at the outset.
Industry experts say that despite the possible setbacks caused by inefficient language communications, a multinational approach can yield the biggest gains, as long as initial cultural misunderstandings can be overcome.

Rio Oil & Gas Conference Arrives, September 17th - 20th

Rio Oil & Gas Conference Arrives, September 17th - 20th | The Rio Times | Brazil News

The IBP Rio Oil & Gas Conference Arrives

By Andrew Willis, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference, perhaps the most important event of its kind in South America, is set to run next week (September 17th-20th) in the Riocentro Convention Centre in Barra de Tijuca. Organizers of the biennial event are expecting a record turnout of 55,000 visitors from over fifty countries at the expo this year, with 1,300 exhibitors.
Opening of the 2010 Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference, IBP, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The Opening of the 2010 Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference, photo by IBP.
This year marks the 16th edition of the industry gathering. “The event has grown and strengthened in parallel with the changes in the Brazilian and global oil and gas industry,” according to event organizers the IBP (the Brazilian Oil, Gas and Biofuels Institute). “In the 1980s the event occupied two pavilions in Riocentro, now we occupy all five.”
Running in parallel to the expo, a four-day conference is expected to attract roughly 4,300 people, with keynote speakers including the CEOs of Shell and Repsol, as well as the presidents of the World Petroleum Council and the International Gas Union, among others.
Plenary session topics include the role of the petroleum industry in promoting sustainable economic development, challenges to energy supply in the 21st Century and offshore operational safety. “We have managed to broaden and deepen the discussion of topics … trying to always include foreign speakers,” said the organizers.
A number of new themes will be addressed this year, including the issue of non-conventional gas, especially shale gas, which has revolutionized the U.S. gas market and is now being explored for across Latin America and the rest of the globe.
Participants and the 2010 expo, IBP, Rio Oil and Gas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Participants and the 2010 expo, photo by IBP.
Writing in the August newsletter of the IBP, the institute’s head of gas, Jorge Delmonte, said that after the tragedy that took place at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, gas power generation assumed “great and instantaneous” importance.
This year the Rio expo and conference are running under the slogan: ‘Innovation and growth with responsibility’. In keeping with this message, an area of the exhibition will be dedicated to improving social and environmental responsibility within the oil and gas sector.
“The industry is aware of its risks, but also the importance of sustainability for the planet and for future generations,” say event organizers. A series of legal cases against U.S. oil major Chevron are ongoing in Brazil after offshore oil seeps were discovered last November.
The expo and conference constitute an important date in Rio’s corporate calendar, helping to fill the city’s top hotels and restaurants as senior oil and gas executives flock to Rio to take advantage of networking opportunities and the chance to catch up on the latest technology.
It also comes at an interesting juncture for the oil and gas industry in Brazil. Delays in developing the much-anticipated pre-salt oil fields off the Brazilian coast have led to considerable debate, while the country’s state-run oil giant, Petrobras, recently reporting its first quarterly loss in over a decade

Talk 2 Brazil Guest Interview with Fernando Ikedo

Talk 2 Brazil Guest Interviews « Talk 2 Brazil, Talk Radio on Business in Brazil

Fernando Ikedo is a professional with 15 years of experience in technical, commercial and strategic activities in the Defense market. He is currently working as an independent consultant, as focused on Brazilian Defense Market.
He is a member of ABIMDE’s (Brazilian Defense and Security Industries Association) and also member of the ABIMDE Advisory Board.
Listen to Tom Reaoch interview Fernando Ikedo: PLAY or DOWNLOAD
He was Market Strategy Director at Embraer Defense and Security, with experience in market strategy, competitive intelligence, strategic planning, marketing and promotion, sales engineering and commercial proposals. He was also involved in partnership identification and mergers & acquisitions activities.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Engineering from Brazil’s ITA – Aeronautical Institute of Technology and an MBA in Entrepreneurial Business Management from ITA/ESPM.

He is currently working as an independent consultant, as focused on Brazilian Defense Market.  Fernando and I met recently at the IBCO ( Brazilian Institute of Organizational Consultants training course in Sao Paulo.

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