|IT College Scholarships for Disadvantaged Brazilian Youth
Programa Para o Futuro, the IT training for employability program for disadvantaged Brazilian youth, established a partnership with IBRATEC, the best 2-year private technical college in the North East of Brazil. Under this partnership, IBRATEC offered all 50 of the program's youth free scholarships to their IT degree program. Since eight youth are still in high school, only 42 youth were able to accept these scholarships to attend IBRATEC.
Through a partnership with the college, the USAID/Brazil-funded employability program is giving these young people the opportunity to earn a college degree at IBRATEC's year and a half technical training program. These scholarships cover the cost of enrolment (about $150) and monthly fees (about $300/month). The total estimated value of these scholarships is approximately $233,000.
Integrating Project-Based Teaching into IBRATEC
The partnership between Programa Para o Futuro and IBRATEC covers many areas. In addition to the scholarships for project youth, the innovative project-based teaching and learning methodology pioneered by Programa Para o Futuro will be incorporated into IBRATEC's curriculum. IBRATEC and Programa Para o Futuro will work together to train the faculty and staff on how to integrate aspects of the program's innovative instructional approach in to IBRATEC's curriculum.
David Stephen, Dean of IBRATEC, was very impressed with the overall nature of the program and the skills and abilities, especially the non-technical skills, of the 50 youth participating in the program. Incorporating the program's methodology into IBRATEC's curriculum was one of their main motives for the partnership. Mr. Stephen also felt that the disadvantaged youth from our program would be able to successfully handle the College's rigorous technical curriculum because of Programa Para o Futuro prepared the youth so effectively.
Real Employment Opportunities for Real Kids
The partnership was developed to respond to one of the main challenges for this pilot project - the direct provision of jobs and/or paid internship opportunities for the 50 youth after they completed from the training program. With unemployment rising to 11.7% (over 30% for youth), average wages falling, and the poor economic climate in Brazil that is not anticipated to improve in the near future, Brazil is a tough market for any young person to find a job, let alone poor disadvantaged youth. (The Economist, BRAZIL'S ECONOMY, May 4th 2004)
Programa Para o Futuro was able to place 30% of the youth in permanent positions during the last months of the training program. However, to place the remainder, the project faced great challenges due to the economic challenges and the legal difficulties most businesses face in hiring interns or part-time staff.
The initial plan was to enroll a majority of youth in formal paid internships as they completed their formal training activities. However, because of the complexity of Brazilian labor law, formal internships are only legally available to youth who are enrolled in officially certified federal or state training programs. Programa Para o Futuro will not receive certification by the completion of the course, making these students ineligible for formal internships.
The partnership with IBRATEC solves this problem since the college's training programs are certified, thereby opening up tremendous opportunities for these young people.
The Strength of Programa Para o Futuro Methodology
So far, the Dean of IBRATEC has found that these students to be competitive college students. The IBRATEC faculty state that these young people are better prepared for the technical training courses at the college than other youth (those from more privileged backgrounds) entering the program.
The youth have also talked about how well they are prepared for this college program. For most, they are the first members of their families to attend a tertiary educational program. Some students have commented that attending college had been a dream that they could not have believed was achievable.
The pilot's curriculum integrates a mix of IT skills, supplemental language and math education, and life and employability skills. The instructional approach is based on project-based pedagogy that simulates workplace environments and provides youth with a combination of hands-one and experiential learning opportunities.
Programa Para o Futuro also features public private partnerships that helped create a dynamic and safe learning environment in which youth are given an opportunity to learn new skills in a variety of areas and are helped to build new futures for themselves. The e-Mentoring component to the program contributed greatly to the academic and social success of the 50 youth.
AED was awarded the Brazil Project on November 1, 2002 for a period of two years (Award No. 512-A-00-02-00017-00 under the dot-ORG Leader Award No.GDG-A-00-01-00014-00.)