Brazil, home to the highest-ranked university in Latin America, has struggled to provide good primary education to its sprawling student population. The quality of country’s education system came in 60th in an evaluation of 76 countries by the OECD. And the results of a recent national math exam revealed that 67% of 15-year-old students in Brazil had not mastered basic math concepts.
Now, Nova Escola, a Brazilian education nonprofit, is attempting to get teachers the resources they need to improve education standards—by sending lesson plans to their phones. Nova Escola has recently received $5.1 million in funding from Google.org and and another $1.6 million from the Lemann Foundation, a leading Brazilian education nonprofit founded by Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, to create a set of digital lessons for elementary school teachers that they can access from their phones. Google’s donation is part of the company’s commitment to invest $50 million over two years towards efforts that use technology to improve education standards globally.
High-performing teachers from across Brazil will work together to create a set of digital lesson plans, including guidance on what should be taught and tips on how best to teach it. The plans will be available through a free mobile and web app, designed to work even in areas with slow internet connections. According to a study by TIC Educação, which researches the use of technology in Brazilian schools, almost all Brazilian teachers already use their phones to prepare classes and over a third use their phones in activities with students—despite inadequate access to the internet in many schools in the country.
The new phone-based lesson plans will be aligned with the new National Curricular Common Base, national education standards similar to the Common Core standards in the US, that Brazil’s ministry of education is currently considering adopting. Over the next five years, Nova Escola aims to reach 1 million elementary school teachers across Brazil.