Lemann Foundation

Fair Future for All: Solving Inequality Through Effective Learning

Elementary education

We will empower Brazilian school districts to ensure effective learning of 4 million students, improving literacy rates of school-aged children by 50%%, in five years.

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Lead Organization

Lemann Foundation

Zurich, Kanton Zürich, Switzerland

http://www.fundacaolemann.org.br/en

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Inequality is a pressing global issue, and Brazil ranks among the most unequal countries worldwide. To permanently close this gap, high-quality education for all is vital. Virtually all Brazilian kids attend school, but 50% of them are still illiterate by 3rd grade. This number can reach up to 80% in vulnerable districts, condemning these kids to very little learning and a future of low-paying jobs. Our solution to revert this cycle is a cost-effective program to ensure that all kids are literate at the right age. In a multi-year partnership with school districts, we are committed to providing full support – experienced consultants, evidence-based roadmaps, technical expertise, and curated resources – to ensure public managers, school leaders, and teachers are equipped to guarantee that no child falls behind. Our solution is already changing the lives of over 1 million students and allowing them to dream of a better future.

Problem Statement

Brazil ranks among the top 10 countries in inequality. To close the opportunity gap, we need to address its root cause – the lack of quality education. Brazil had already achieved universal access to education, but this did not result in students learning. Of the 4 million babies born annually, 50% are unable to read by the age of eight, reaching 80% in some states. Only 2.1% of impoverished children, most of whom self-identify as Afro-Brazilian or indigenous, will achieve the expected learning outcomes. Public school students rank, on average, three years behind their private school counterparts. The World Bank report, LEARNING to Realize Education’s Promise, shows that the lack of learning is a systemic and global issue that many countries are trying to solve. There have been cases in poor Brazilian districts, like Sobral, where the cycle of inequality has been broken. Remarkably, these districts closed the learning gap between privileged and impoverished students and became some of the most equal educational systems. It was possible by nurturing a strong communal belief that all children, regardless of their origins, have the right to learn. The district leaders redesigned the local public policies to give teachers and school leaders the necessary resources and incentives to assure that no student would fall behind. While impressive, these cases represent only a small portion of a large country. There is an urgent need to extend these successes across the country and save the current generation from being lost in the cycle of inequality.

Solution Overview

Our program tackles the most common bottlenecks faced by school districts to ensure student learning – lack of districts’ engagement, ineffective and incoherent public policies, and limited human resources capacity. Through a multi-year partnership with districts, we provide consultancy, professional development, and resources for them to overcome these challenges. Examples of the kind of support we provide include evidence-based roadmaps and well-documented benchmarks to redesign public policies; hiring pedagogical experts to support the alignment and qualification of school materials and curating training for school leaders and teachers. The goal is that every teacher and school leader has the resources and incentives they need to guarantee that no student falls behind. Based on knowledge transfer and capacity building, this is a very cost-effective and sustainable solution leveraging and redirecting resources that districts already have. Success is measured through students’ performance in national standardized assessments. Intermediary indicators are tracked every six months to ensure districts are on the right path to achieving student learning and fostering a culture of monitoring progress. The methodology is robust, designed to generate well-trained educators and stimulate public policy reforms. It has already been in place for four years, with over 1 million students impacted. With the planned expansion, we will reach over 4 million students and improve the Brazilian literacy rate, at the right age, by 50%.

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