Skills for Prosperity is a global initiative by the UK government implemented in nine countries (Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia) that aims to support economic growth and poverty reduction, providing young people and disadvantaged groups with access to quality education and development of skills for the world of work.
The programme seeks to respond to the global challenge of empowering people who have the potential and ambition to transform their countries, but often do not receive the necessary training to achieve their goals. Through different actions focused on disadvantaged groups, Skills for Prosperity aims to stimulate sustainable and inclusive economic growth in partner countries.
In Brazil, the programme focuses on democratising access to quality English Language Teaching (ELT) in public schools, technical and vocational education, and higher education from the perspective of English as Lingua Franca (ELF), i.e., as a perspective of intercultural communication. The programme considers that students with better training in English will be better able to develop important skills for the world of work, which enhances inclusive economic growth in the country.
With the implementation of the National Common Curricular Base (Base Nacional Comum Curricular, BNCC), which makes the teaching of the English Language mandatory in all Brazilian schools beginning at the final years of Secondary Education, and which also provides the development of skills that favour the training of young people for the contemporary intercultural world, emerges an opportunity to strengthen English nationwide in a structured and effective way, promoting positive impacts on the learning of millions of students.
According to the survey “Demands for learning English in Brazil (Demandas de aprendizagem de inglês no Brasil)”, carried out by the British Council, in 2013, only 5.1% of the population aged 16+ declared to have some knowledge of English. To support a change in this scenario, Skills for Prosperity will develop several actions in the country, such as the production of reference documents, teaching materials that consider regional contexts and realities and the pedagogical didactic training of teachers, as well as linguistic enhancement.
The programme aims to benefit students in the final years of secondary education, upper secondary education, technical and vocational education from learning English. Direct activities will be developed with more than 4 million students from state public schools in five states (Amapá, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo, and Paraná), in addition to actions of national outreach, with a total duration of three years (2020 – 2023). It is estimated that more than 21,000 Brazilian educators will be trained through the programme’s initiatives.
A consortium of institutions with recognised experience in the fields of education and English is at the head of the programme in the country — Fundação Lemann, Nova Escola, Instituto Reúna, and British Council. The partnership takes place through the Prosperity Fund, a British government cooperation fund that aims to help alleviate poverty and promote sustainable economic development and gender equality in partner countries.
Skills for Prosperity’s outputs in Brazil aim to strengthen the teaching of the English language with a transversal look at social and gender inclusion. The programme includes concrete strategies, principles, and actions in an active effort to ensure that the activities carried out promote equity, are accessible to groups at a greater disadvantage, and do not reproduce inequalities and stereotypes in the country.
Making a difference in Brazilian education
The pillars that support the actions of the Skills for Prosperity programme in Brazil aimed at Teaching English Language (ELT) are:
- the creation of a favourable environment for the teaching of English by improving national policy, planning, and strategies for ELT, in line with international standards and best practises.
- the relevance of the educational materials and reference documents produced, strengthening the design and reform of the curriculum for ELT at the national level and the development of skills in five pilot states (Amapá, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo, and Paraná).
- the pedagogical quality of ELT and teaching practise in Brazilian public schools, by strengthening teacher training, continuing professional development and initial training.
- equity of access to teachers and students, with a special focus on the black community and gender issues, particularly black girls enrolled in basic education and black English teachers.
Impacts on education
- More than 4 million students from the sixth grade of lower secondary education to the third grade of upper secondary education will be impacted by Skills for Prosperity in the country
- 167,121 in Mato Grosso do Sul (84,822 from lower secondary education and 82,299 from upper secondary education)
- 78,012 in Amapá (47,334 from lower secondary education and 30,678 from upper secondary education)
- 415,228 in Pernambuco (149,774 from lower secondary education and 265,454 from upper secondary education)
- 866,704 in Paraná (549,503 from lower secondary education and 317,201 from upper secondary education)
- 2,637,477 in São Paulo (1,346,644 from lower secondary education and 1,290,833 from upper secondary education)
- More than 21 thousand teachers will be trained in the programme for teaching English. There are 916 in Mato Grosso do Sul, 192 in Amapá, 1,353 in Pernambuco, 4,330 in Paraná, and 15,138 in São Paulo
Source: Censo Escolar (School Census)/INEP 2018