Girls From Brazil’s Slums Find Escape In Ballet

August 25, 2014

AP – Fox News Latino, 8/25/2014

Past the graffiti-covered overpass and subway tracks, in a slum penned in by high-rises, 8-year-old Gabriela Aparecida fixes her curly hair into a bun as she waits for a ride to her new favorite activity: ballet. Peeling back the tarp over the doorway, the skinny girl reaches out into the dirt alleyway to hug the church volunteer arriving to take her to dance class.

Growing up amid drug dealers and addicts, Gabriela has yet to learn how to read. Yet she and other girls from a rough neighborhood known as a “cracolandia,” or crackland, are learning the graceful art courtesy of a local church group that also offers them food, counseling and Bible studies. The class is among several groups where young dancers hope to catch the eye of a respected Brazilian ballerina who recruits dozens of disadvantaged girls for an annual workshop.

Twice a week, more than 20 girls, ages 5 through 12, board a Volkswagen van for a 10-minute ride to class, where they put on pink or black tights and ballet shoes donated by a dancewear store.

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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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Brazil Protests Fizzled, but Roots of Anger Remain

July 14, 2014

Jenny Barchfield – ABC News, 7/13/2014

The protesters who many feared would wreck Brazil’s World Cup party failed to show up. While the national team fell short of claiming the coveted championship, the country at least can say the tournament that wraps up with Sunday’s title game has gone off with only scattered demonstrations.

Brazil avoided a repeat of last year’s Confederations Cup when violent protests broke out in several cities and more than a million people took to the streets on just one night to demand the government spend on improvements for education and other public services instead of soccer. But the absence of conflict during the World Cup came less from dissipated anger than attention being glued to the games and police cracking down on even small demonstrations.

Paulo Cavalcante, a 50-year-old public servant, shouted himself hoarse during last year’s protests, even bringing his teenage daughter along on the marches. But during the World Cup, like many other Brazilians, he chose to stay home.

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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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