Fury at Brazil job seeker pap smears, virginity tests

August 11, 2014

AP – The Sydney Morning Herald, 8/9/2014

Women seeking education jobs in Brazil’s most populous state should not be required to submit to gynaecological exams or prove their virginity, according to women’s rights advocates.

The education department of Sao Paulo state requires female prospective teachers to undergo a pap smear to prove they are free of a variety of cancers, or to present a doctor’s statement verifying they have not been sexually active.

Until recently, it also required women to have a colposcopy, a type of visual examination used to detect disease.

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Encouraging Brazil’s emerging middle class to buy sustainably

August 7, 2014

Pablo Barros – The Guardian, 8/6/2014

There is an economic phenomenon transforming emerging economies around the world – the rise of a new middle class of consumers. And the need for business to manage their major impact on the existing global system of production and consumption.

Encouraging these new consumers to make sustainable buying choices is one of the greatest challenges facing responsible companies today. As traditional approaches fail, businesses in Brazil are now starting to explore the power of behaviour change techniques.

Over the last ten years, some 30 million Brazilians have joined the middle class. These new consumers are swelling the numbers of a market which is already stretching Brazil’s natural resources beyond their capacity. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny to this segment of the population the access to consumption that is already enjoyed by other Brazilians.

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The Jane Austen of Brazil

August 7, 2014

Miranda France – The Spectator, 8/7/2014

When the American poet Elizabeth Bishop arrived in Brazil in 1951, she expected to spend two weeks there and ended up staying 15 years, a time of emotional turbulence and creative productivity. Bishop wrote poetry and prose and translated Latin American writers, including Octavio Paz, but this project, suggested by friends as a way to improve her Portuguese, is something completely different. It’s a teenager’s diary, written between 1893 and 1895 in the remote mining town of Diamantina, the highest town in Brazil. It’s a delightful, funny and revealing memoir, a little bit of Austen in the Americas.

Helena’s real name was Alice Dayrell, (the pseudonym came from her English relations). At the time she was writing, Diamantina was ten days’ journey from Rio de Janeiro, two by train, eight by mule. Set in a weird landscape of giant boulders and ant-hills, it’s a town where everyone knows everyone else’s business and, as Helena often reminds us, all of them are lunatics. ‘Just build a wall around the town. The place is a regular asylum.’

Helena’s father is mostly absent; he’s invested in a new diamond mine, so far with nothing to show for it. Many of the region’s inhabitants are after that elusive, fortune-making diamond that will change everything. Helena’s family live in hope of future riches and scrape by as best they can.

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The Outlook of Brazil’s October Elections by the Country’s Leading Pollster

August 4, 2014

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During the Brazil Institute’s event on July 29, 2014, Mauro Paulino and Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva provided their insight on the upcoming Presidential elections in Brazil. Paulino, through his work with the prominent Brazil-based research institute, Datafolha, revealed past as well as present statistics and predictions to shed light on the development of voter intention in the upcoming October elections.

The general electorate in Brazil is younger and more educated than it was in the past, leading to a higher distrust in political parties. The speakers note that because of this, the current candidates would do well in distancing themselves from the government and its reputation for corruption by offering a new and separate alternative, but it is unknown as to whether or not this will come to fruition.

Paulino points out a Brazilian anomaly in that although television time is generally thought to enhance candidates’ chances of getting elected, this notion is statistically not true in Brazil. This-coming election also holds the largest percentage of people who are currently unsure for whom they would vote or who would not select any of the candidates by submitting a blank vote. Read the rest of this entry »



Cadets offer insight into law enforcement in Brazil

July 30, 2014

Kenny Green – Star Local Media, 7/30/2014

Several cadets from Academia De Policia Militar Do Barro Bronco in Brazil are in Mesquite at Eastfield College’s police academy to learn procedures and techniques from Dallas County law enforcement officials. The cadets are being exposed to a completely different culture in law enforcement than the face back home in São Paulo.

“I have seen the structure there, and it’s very militaristic,” said Michael Horak, Eastfield College police chief.

“We have the same structure as far as ranks,” said Cadet Carlos Piles, who serves as the translator for the group. “Our teachings, ethics, uniforms, salutation and rules have a militaristic code.”

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Has Brazil Taken the Right Approach to Education Reforms?

July 24, 2014

Emily Gustafsson-Wright – The Brookings Institution, 7/23/2014

In an interview with Inter-American Dialogue, Emily Gustafsson-Wright discusses Brazil’s new National Education Plan, which sets forth 20 goals that the country aims to achieve over the next decade. Read the full interview here

Brazil’s National Education Plan is indeed ambitious. With 20 targets ranging from universalizing access to early childhood education by 2016 to expanding enrollments at the post-graduate level, the federal government has set its sights high in an effort to address the issues of low PISA scores and large inequalities in educational access and quality in terms of geography, race and income. This is not the first time that the Brazilian government has proposed audacious education goals, however.

In 1998, it adopted a radical reform of education financing (FUNDEF and later FUNDEB) to equalize spending per student, and the record shows impressive progress resulted. In 2005, it set the target of raising learning outcomes to OECD levels by 2021 and put in place a highquality national assessment system to monitor and publicize the progress of every state, municipality and school in the country. But this time, a disconcerting factor is the outsized emphasis on spending more rather than spending better. A target to increase public education spending to 10 percent of GDP within a decade is beyond what any developed or developing country has found sustainable: the OECD average of 5.8 percent and Brazil’s current average of 5.7 percent are little more than half that. Where that money will come from, at least in part, was confirmed by President Dilma Rousseff when she signed a law that earmarks 75 percent of oil royalties for education. How it will be distributed and spent effectively is less clear.

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The Political Hangover from Brazil’s World Cup Defeat

July 14, 2014

Antônio Sampaio – Foreign Policy, 7/12/2014

The World Cup isn’t over yet, but Brazil’s politicians are already facing fallout from the devastating defeat of the national team at the hands of Germany on July 8. That some Brazilian fans decided to react with violence comes, perhaps, as little surprise. The day after Brazil’s historic 7-1 loss to the Germans, rioters burned more than 20 buses in São Paulo, the country’s economic hub. In Belo Horizonte, the city that hosted the match, a gathering of thousands of people turned nasty when protesters set a Brazilian flag on fire and others threw rocks at the police.

The government has now decided to send reinforcements to security forces in both of those cities as well as to Rio de Janeiro, the site of the final match. All this comes in addition to thousands of soldiers already sent to the main host cities as a contingency measure at the start of the Cup. Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo has expressed particular concern about renewed activity by the anarchist Black Bloc movement, masked youths who have provoked numerous clashes with the police in recent months.

But the political repercussions from the defeat are likely to go farther than the actions of a few dozen football hooligans. After all, it was precisely Brazil’s plans to host the Cup (at a cost of some 11 billion dollars) that triggered an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, protests, and political activism a year ago — all of it underlining that futebol no longer occupies the same place in Brazilian hearts that it once did. Now the beautiful game is at the center of an agonized national rethink, a mass, middle-class movement against outdated infrastructure and failing services. And the crushing July 8 defeat is giving new momentum to the demands for reform.

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In World Cup Of Education, Brazil Is Bad, But Argentina Is Worse

July 14, 2014

James Marshall Crotty – Forbes, 7/12/2014

One of the underplayed sub-plots of this year’s World Cup is that many of those who vociferously protested on the streets of Brazil were doing so on behalf of better teacher pay and benefits. In other words, education was a huge subtext in this futbol-crazed country’s first World Cup since 1950. And beautiful, hilarious, resource-rich Brazil – which does not often register in American consciousness outside of Carnival, Amazon deforestation, and Gisele Bundchen – actually does want to be known around the world for more than soccer greatness. Especially now that their presumed stranglehold on this year’s Cup was surgically eviscerated, 7-1, by a superior German squad in last Tuesday’s semifinal in Belo Horizonte.

But, as Brazilians now know, expectations for greatness do not always correlate with success. This is especially true when it comes to education. In no surprise to close Brazil watchers, on the eve of the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian protestors fulsomely, and often violently, argued that the record-breaking $14.1 billion that Brazil spent on staging the Copa Do Mundo — including a suspicious $1.2 billion cost overrun in building 12 new, albeit gorgeous, soccer stadiums – would have been better allocated towards building hospitals, public housing and, most urgently, schools and other education infrastructure.

The leftist government of the otherwise popular President Dilma Rousseff has been flat-footed in its response. To such an extent that now, with the distracting bread and circus of a Brazil World Cup triumph off the table, “Dilma” is in danger of being removed from office altogether.

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Never mind football, perhaps the scientists from Brazil can revive national pride

July 11, 2014

Robert Young – The Conversation, 7/11/2014

One of the reasons Brazil took its loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals so hard was because many Brazilians wrongly believe the rest of the world only looks up to them for their footballing skills. Brazil has many world leading projects, but they can be overshadowed by the beautiful game.

During the opening ceremony of the World Cup there was a moment when the Walk Again Project of Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis was supposed to be showcased – it received less than three seconds of coverage. It is a world-leading project in which paraplegics are able use their thoughts to control an exoskeleton. But Nicolelis went to develop the project in the USbecause the right environment was lacking in Brazil for his research.

When it comes to higher education, Brazil is ranked 13th for global scientific productivity of papers published, but in terms of scientific innovation it is a very low performer.

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