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IEA and Itaú Social launch the Chair of Basic Education

by Richard Meckien - published Feb 22, 2019 12:00 AM - - last modified Jun 11, 2020 06:05 AM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa and Fernanda Rezende.

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The director of the Institute of Advanced Studies, Paulo Saldiva, USP's president Vahan Agopyan, the superintendent of Itaú Social, Angela Dannemann, and the coordinator of the Chair, Nílson José Machado

The main objective of the Chair of Basic Education, based at the IEA and launched on February 21, is to gather measures that foster policies for basic education focused on teacher education, starting from the analysis of innovative experiences, discussions with the players and field studies. The opening event was a ceremony at USP's Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC). The Chair is the result of an agreement signed by USP, the Itaú Social Foundation - sponsor of the initiative -, and the Foundation for the Support of the University of São Paulo (FUSP) at the end of 2018.

Photos of the event

Itaú Social has allocated R$ 5 million to the activities of the Chair, divided into five annual contributions. The amount will subsidize the activities during the five years of agreement, which may be renewed.

For the first semester, three seminars are planned. With the participation of specialists, the activities will enable the systematization of information based on specific experiences and educational policies at the three levels of government. Each presentation will result in a video of 15 minutes and a text. In the second half of the year, the Chair should take the specialists to the field in order to get a closer look at the most successful experiences in basic education. With the collected information, they will return to USP to continue the research project.

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Nílson José Machado

"We do not want to have an effect on Brazilian education in 40 or 50 years. We want to see results in four or five years," said Nílson José Machado, academic coordinator of the Chair. In 2017 and 2018, also at the IEA, he coordinated the Brazilian Public Basic Education Study Group: Apparent Difficulties, Actual Challenges, which mapped the most relevant issues in the area and produced the document "Diagnosis and Proposals for Basic Education in Brazil." The work of the group has inspired the creation of the Chair.

It is based on the result of this previous study that Machado defends that the main problem of Brazilian education is the lack of a project. "If we had a project for education, even a lack of resources would be easier to manage."

For Paulo Saldiva, director of the IEA, it is USP's role to be part of the solution package for the country, an idea shared by the university's president, Vahan Agopyan, who has also attended the ceremony. "The university is not meant to solve all problems, but it has an obligation to help by recommending solutions," he said.

Itaú Social's superintendent Angela Dannemann has highlighted the strategic character of the foundation's partnership with the IEA: "The union between researchers, and the professionals who daily work at schools and know the educational networks has, in itself, a transforming power."

Convergence of
initiatives for education

Since the early 1990s, the IEA has been committed to reflect on Brazilian public basic education and to collaborate in the formulation of public policies for the area.

Three visiting professors have dedicated their time to the theme in different periods of those years: the academic coordinator of the new Chair, Nílson José Machado; educator Guiomar Namo de Mello, a researcher at the Carlos Chagas Foundation, and education specialist at the World Bank and at the Inter-American Development Bank, who has also been Municipal Secretary of Education in São Paulo; and physicist Sérgio Costa Ribeiro, whose studies have shown that failure rather than evasion was the main obstacle to improve education and cognitive competence of the country's young population during the second half of the 20th century.

Another initiative of the Institute has been the Education for Citizenship Mobilizing Program, focused on collecting data on the Brazilian educational system. One of the results of the program has been a report on public policies for education coordinated by Guiomar Namo de Mello.

Diagnoses, challenges, public policies and successful experiences in basic education have been subjects of dossiers and articles in the "Estudos Avançados" journal, and of conferences and public seminars over the last 30 years of the IEA.

While running for director and deputy director of the IEA, the then-candidates and now holders of the respective positions professors Paulo Saldiva and Guilherme Ary Plonski included the creation of a core of studies dedicated to elementary and secondary education among the priorities of their 2016-2020 Management Plan.

The guideline was implemented in early 2017 with the Brazilian Public Basic Education Study Group: Apparent Difficulties, Actual Challenges, under the coordination of Nílson José Machado. In five seminars held in 2017 and 2018, USP professors, educators, and public managers analyzed teacher education, quality of education, the role of official documents, and innovative experiences. The conclusions of the group were released in July 2018 with the document "Diagnosis and Proposals for Basic Education in Brazil".

Since 1993, Itaú Social has been developing programs to improve Brazilian public education. Examples of this effort include the creation of the Itaú-UNICEF Prize, the Education Improvement Program in the Municipality, the Cycles of Debates in Educational Management, and the creation of the program Educational Territories Networks.

The signing of the agreement for the creation of the chair based at the IEA is one more step for Itaú Social in addition to the various partnerships with the public power, including cooperation agreements with the Municipal Funds for the Rights of Children and Adolescents in 44 municipalities of several states. The foundation also cooperates with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development, with the Municipal Secretary of Education in Manaus, and with the states of the Interstate Development Consortium of Central Brazil (Tocantins, Rondônia, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Goiás, and the Federal District).

Itaú Social has 17 institutional partners, including the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the National Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics Association, the Lemann Foundation, the Ayrton Senna Institute, and the Roberto Marinho Foundation.

According to Dannemann, the foundation's expectation is that "during the five-year term of the Chair there will be" an accumulation of knowledge production, innovative practices, and training sessions that promote significant advances" in the proposals for basic education." All this with a commitment that is different: the appreciation of the look and the voice of the attending teachers."


The Chair is based on three premises, according to the formulators of the proposal:

  1. quality education is the one that promotes the full development of the subject;
  2. the training of the teaching staff requires a balanced relationship between theory and practice, recognizing each individual as a whole;
  3. the training of the teaching staff and their professional performance find limits in structuring problems, involving variables that are internal and external to the school.


By linking quality education with its concern to promote the full development of the individual, the Chair emphasizes the need to recognize its different dimensions (cognitive, emotional, social, ethical and physical) and to value the diversity of interests, talents, and individual and group trajectories. By embracing this notion of full education, the Chair encourages complementarity among schools, families, and local and city organizations, and proposes to promote multidisciplinary collaboration, given the challenges of the 20th century.

The Chair considers that the systematic training of teachers should be permanent, centered on what is experienced at school, but ubiquitous, collaborative and hybrid (face-to-face and by digital means). The proposal adds that, just like every student, every teacher must have his integrality and his subject character recognized. Such training expands the capacity for observation and reflection from the articulation between the challenges, scientific theories, and research results.

The members of the Chair relate structural problems that limit the training and the performance of teachers: a high rate of changing school staff, the lack of autonomy of the school unit in selecting the teaching staff, the intense workload which does not involve collective pedagogical elaboration, the deficient infrastructure, the fragmented vision of educational management, and the discouraging remuneration and career plans. In this sense, research projects that point out solutions to these challenges, including previous experiences of school networks and communities, are considered fundamental.

For the first semester of 2019, the Chair has programmed three seminars with the general theme "Action / Teacher Training: The Disciplinary Fragmentation and its Antidotes." The dates, the themes, and the presenters are the following:

  • March 16 – Teacher:  Professionalism and Competence
    • The Teacher and the Idea of Professionalism – Nílson José Machado (IEA and USP's School of Education / FE)
    • The Teacher and His / Her Competences – Lino de Macedo (IEA and USP's Institute of Psychology / IP)
    • The Teacher's Action as a Professional – Luís Carlos de Menezes (IEA and USP's Institute of Physics / IF)
    • Attractiveness and Teaching Career – Caroline Tavares (Itaú Social)
  • April 13 – The Teacher's Action: Planning and Evaluation
    • The Teacher's Action: Freedom, Responsibility, Tolerance – Luís Carlos de Menezes (IEA and USP's Institute of Physics / IF)
    • Planning: Conceptions of Knowledge and Teaching Actions – Nílson José Machado (IEA and USP's School of Education / FE)
    • Evaluation: The Ideas of Measurement and Value, and the Meaning of Indicators – Lino de Macedo (IEA and USP's Institute of Psychology / IP)
    • Evaluation and Planning: Good Practices for Time Use / Self-Training Activity – Itaú Social
  • May 18 – Teacher Training: Innovative Experiences
    • Teacher Training: A Panorama of Fundamental Questions – Bernardete Angelina Gatti (São Paulo State Board of Education / CEE-SP)
    • Integrated Training: The Experience of USP São Carlos – Yvonne Mascarenhas (IEA and USP's Institute of Physics in São Carlos / IFSC-USP)
    • Training by Area: A Transdisciplinary Vision – Luís Carlos de Menezes (IEA and USP's Institute of Physics / IF) and Nílson José Machado (IEA and USP's School of Education / FE)
    • Itaú Social Foundation: Overview of Projects Relating to the Final Years of Elementary Education – Itaú Social



In addition to yearly having a researcher or intellectual with a relevant role in the reflection on the challenges of basic education, the Chair has a Governance Committee, an Advisory Committee and an Executive Committee.

The members of the Governance Committee are:

  • IEA's director (currently Paulo Saldiva), who is also president of the committee;
  • the superintendent of Itaú Social (currently Angela Dannemann);
  • the coordinator general of the Chair, Guilherme Ary Plonski, deputy director at the IEA;
  • academic coordinator Nílson José Machado, from USP's School of Education and former visiting professor at the IEA;
  • two representatives of Itaú Social, appointed by the superintendent: Patrícia Mota Guedes, R&D manager, and Juliana Souza Mavoungou Yade, R&D specialist
  • and the chair holder.


Five researchers nominated by the IEA and five others chosen by Itaú Social constitute the Advisory Committee, to be renewed according to the agreement between the partners.

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Members of the Chair of Basic Education

The Executive Committee includes:

  • the coordinator general;
  • the academic coordinator;
  • two associate coordinators nominated by the IEA: USP professors Luís Carlos Menezes, from the IF-USP, and Lino Macedo, from the IP-USP;
  • two researchers nominated by the coordinators of the IEA centers in São Carlos and in Ribeirão Preto (one of each)
  • and a secretary.


Also participating in the Chair are researchers: Hélio Dias, from IF-USP and a senior professor at the IEA; Helena Singer, from the NGO Ashoka Brasil; Yvonne Mascarenhas, scientific coordinator of IEA's São Carlos Center and honorary professor of the Institute; Bernardete Gatti, from the Carlos Chagas Foundation and former president of the CEE-SP; Elie Ghanem, from FE-USP; Guiomar Namo de Melo, president of the Brazilian School of Teachers and former visiting professor at the IEA; and Francisco Aparecido Cordão, director at Peabiru Educacional.

The Executive Committee will be in charge of detailing the scope of the research project and defining the thematic axes; determine the process of selection and final selection of projects; and defining the scheduling of seminar cycles and other meetings.

Photos: Cecília Bastos / USP Imagens