Promoting equality with quality education
Secretaria de Educação de Foz do Iguaçu

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The experience started in April 2008 when Joane Vilela Pinto was appointed to be Municipal Secretary of Education of Foz do Iguaçu, a city located in the Brazilian state of Paraná. In a city of 244.000 inhabitants, she was responsible for running the public school system with more than 18.000 students and 2.405 SMED employees as of April 2008. The public system consists of Early Childhood Education (children between 0-5 years old), primary education (children between 6-11 years old), and EJA (Portuguese acronym for education for adult literacy). Other educational levels were State and Federal responsibility at Foz do Iguaçu. The city's structure consisted of: 82 Schools of Early childhood education / Primary education schools / EJA education schools. The landscape of the Early Childhood Education by the end of 2007 was: - Lack of vacancies, with only 2,870 enrolled children - Schools had precarious infrastructure The scenario of the Primary education by the end of 2007 was: - High rates of school failure (average of 15% of the students). - High dropout rates, with 134 students dropping out on 2007, - Low quality of the education provided, with an average of 4,8 out of 10 points scored on the IDEB (Brazilian index for Primary education, similar do OECD's PISA) - Great discrepancy on the quality levels of the schools on the municipal system, with 28 out of 48 schools below the 4,8 average on IDEB (the worst school averaged 4,0 and the best school averaged 5,9) - Low proficiency of the learning (measured by the index on (i) 60% of students enrolled on the fifth grade couldn’t reach the basic levels of Portuguese; and (ii) 64% of the students enrolled on the fifth grade were below the minimum mathematical knowledge required. - Schools had precarious infrastructure The main social groups affected were: - Poor Children at the age of 0-5 years who suffered with the lack of vacancies in Early Childhood Education - Poor Children at the age of 6-12 years who suffered with the poor quality education and low proficiency of the learning - Poor families that suffered with the poor quality education and lack of vacancies in Early Childhood Education

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution to the problem was built by many city actors. Joane, as the Municipal Secretary of Education, built the solutions with: - The City Mayor - School teachers - School Principals - School Employees, such as security, catering and maintenance personnel - Employees at the Department of Education - Student's parents - Academic teachers The solution brought forth was translated into the Municipal Department of Education's strategic mission: integrate actions so that students, government and community can act together, aiming the establishment of an education that features social and emancipatory qualities. The solution targeted the students of the Public System and children still not enrolled of public schools due to lack of vacancies (especially on early childhood and primary educations). The work strategy was divided in three axis: Axis 1: Infrastructure improvement Targeted audience: students, teachers, principals, students' parents, schools on vulnerable neighborhoods Actions: - Increase early childhood and primary school's enrollment (0-5 years old) - Build and restore the schools of the municipal system - Foster parents to help in the maintenance and improvement of school facilities Axis 2: Strengthening pedagogical activities Targeted audience: primary school students with poor proficiency, illiterates, repeaters and schools on vulnerable neighborhoods. Actions: - Improve education quality, measured through IDEB/Prova Brasil in all schools. - Reduce distortions age-school level: (i) reduce dropouts; (ii) reduce school failure. Axis 3: Strengthen scholar management Targeted audience: school principals, teacher, coordinators, employees of the public school system. Actions: - Engage teachers, principals and employees - Empower principals on financial education and resource management - Valorize teaching profession and create incentives for performance enhancement and attendance

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
What made this a unique initiative were the results achieved by all schools belonging to the city network. Never before in the history of Brazil had a medium-sized city (above 200 thousand dwellers) achieved so quickly and expressive progress in the IDEB 2007-2011. It improved quality education to all schools - whether in rich or poor neighborhoods - with an aim towards reducing inequality, Foz do Iguaçu's experience also broke with old paradigms regarding the Brazilian educational system, e.g. attributing low results in the learning process to a vulnerable and poor socioeconomic reality. The path taken to transform the experience into an innovative one required a few highlights: (1) The most significant factor was the teachers' commitment to the process, which owed much to the school managers, who approved of the dream of a better system. (2) The city education department provided intensive and specific pedagogical and social treatment to the most vulnerable schools, as well as to those classes whose learning indicators were low. (3) Pedagogical management focus on results (IDEB/Prova Brasil) including the application of monthly or bimonthly exams that look forward to evaluating and diagnosing achievements and weaknesses.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
As soon as Joane took over, the practical work started. There was no time to plan carefully, so the crew focused on problem identification to ensure their solution. The initial plan was structured based on the SMED mission: to integrate public policies in order to bring together students, the government and the community around the main purpose of consolidating an educational system that features social and emancipatory qualities. Grounded on this goal, Joane divided the project in three main axes: 1. Infrastructure improvement 2. Strengthening pedagogical activities 3. Strengthening scholar management The implementation plan was broad and indicated areas of work (AVALIBLE IN LINK From the document it is important to list some adopted strategies: • During the first months of work Joane’s priority was to personally visit the schools and talk to principals and teachers. She sincerely asked for their commitment to the dream of improving the city’s educational system. Analyzed their problems very closely and encouraged them to suggest possible solution so that Joane could implement it in the whole educational network. The proximity with the employees was essential to motivate people to commit themselves with goals. • Another important approach was to exhibit the annual educational planning to each principal. Those presentations took place in the beginning of each year and some agreement were settled, which the fulfillment was bimonthly checked. As consequence, they succeeded in keeping the pace of the improvements. • There was a major concern not to leave students behind. The achievements ought to affect the whole educational network so it was necessary to rethink the SMED procedure accordingly. They came up with the solution of creating pedagogical task-force responsible for providing support disadvantaged school in pedagogical and managerial features. • Some strategies meant a radical change and were not so well received by a teacher’s union. However, the proximity and connection with the academy and renowned teachers was crucial to gain support for performance-based financial motivation and changes in the admission process of public teachers. • The infrastructure improvement was a major achievement in order to engage the population around the educational reform, especially teacher and students’ parents. Another important incentive to mobilize the community was the ceremonies arranged after the publications of the IDEB better results. Firefighter trucks were decorated and sound systems were used to drive attention to our IDEB achievements in 2009 and 2011.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative started in the period between 2005/2008, in which Joane was leading the pedagogical department in Municipal Secretary of educational and she wasn't pleased with the management of the City's Secretary. Around this period she started looking into theories and started drafting a proposal from studying management gurus: Peter Drucker, Dale Carnegie, Jim Collins e Jack Welch. With the general guidelines of what had to be done, she put together a joint plan with all school principals and as much school teachers of the public network as possible. To get this done, she spent three months - April 2008 to June 2008 - visiting all the school network. During those visits, she asked for suggestions of solutions. The proximity with the employees was essential to motivate people and show Joane’s commitment to the cause. She also searched for good practices and tried to find out which cities had the best scores in the 2007 IDEB: Medianeira and Serranópolis do Iguaçu (State of Paraná) Adolfo and Santa Fé do Sul (State of São Paulo). During those visits, the mayor, Paulo MacDonald Ghisi, was one of the team members of good practice. His attitude reinforced the political priority in education. The support of city mayor and Secretaries of Finance and Administration were paramount in obtaining financial resources and establishing priorities on the City's educational system. Other politicians involved with great importance were the members of the city council, important in approving the piece of legislation on recruiting and paying of civil servants. Involvement with scholars of public and private universities was also important, and provided great support for the implementation of cultural changes of teacher recognition (Paulo Freire Prize), continuous formation and changes on public tenders.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The main financial resources were obtained from the municipal budget allocated during the period 2008-2012: R $ 75,658,185.90 in 2008 R $ 82,814,569.47 in 2009 R $ 107,034,084.45 in 2010 R $ 107,854,653.18 in 2011 R $ 129,136,629.96 in 2012 It is noteworthy that these resources have been growing over the years, as a series of external funds were obtained for the construction of new schools, renovation of schools, purchase of equipment, purchase of school buses and other. As first example, the external fund PAR - Articulated Actions Plan of the Federal Brazilian Ministry of Education, R$ 2,800 million, which were committed to the purchase six buses, three of them adapted to transport disabled students, 6,383 school desks, 380 sets of table and chair for teachers, 66 tables for students who use wheelchairs and 313 air conditioners. As a second example, the resources of the Federal Ministry of Education to build new schools: - Early Childhood Center, at Falls Park on the Beverly neighborhood, R$ 1,921,040.70; - Early Childhood Center School near Emilio de Menezes II Morumbi neighborhood, R$ 1,995,725.10; - Early Childhood Education Center near Erico Verissimo School Garden Guarapuava, R$ 1,991,318.30; - Early Childhood Center School near Cecilia Meireles, the Ouro Verde neighborhood, R$ 2,037,163.74.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1 - A wide work plan to restore city's public schools and fundraising in order to: A) increase the enrolment of early childhood education (children from 0 to 5 years), prioritizing the goal to universalize the kindergarten education; B) improve the infrastructure for the city's student's of the public network with air-conditioning, playgrounds, computers and laboratories. 2 - Establishment of a multiprofessional team beyond education (phonoaudiologist, psychologist, and social assistant) to implement a work of reduction of school dropout and school failure - the programs FICA (in english, "STAY Program") and Construindo Cidadania (in english, "Building citizenship") 3 - Making and distribution of pedagogic material to ALL students and teachers (Early Childhood and Primary Education, specific areas and reinforcement). 4 - Creation of a specific team to act alongside the teachers of the final years of the Primary Education (fourth and fifth grades), evaluating the school classes, diagnosing difficulties, researching, following, assisting, and mediating any IDEB related actions with all municipal public schools, including the provision of classroom material specifically prepared for the last years. 5- Implementation of evaluation systems and bimestrial monitoring of the students' learning, presence of pedagogic coordinators at schools and the utilization of Prova Brasil matrices as diagnostic for the planning of the contents and school activities, as well as it's monitoring.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The main instrument as regards monitoring the plan were the regular meetings aimed at evaluating the progress of actions, following the lines established by the Initial Action Plan of 2008 and the Federal Education Department's Articulated Actions Plan - PAR. Joane made her part to keep a disciplined routine: every beginning of year she presented the annual planning; every month checked the results achieved. These presentations were individualized to each one of the 51 schools. Moreover, the management team at the City's Department of Education (SMED) also had its own general meetings. Execution was divided into three axes, each one of which had its own evaluation and monitoring methods. First Axis - Improvement of Infrastructure The crew monitored infrastructure-related actions through regular meetings between the SMED's team, the Mayor Paulo MacDonald and the local public works secretary. Meetings focused on the solution of problems (works, resources, chronograms and teams). Second Axis - Strengthening of pedagogical action In this case, monitoring was the big highlight: - The establishment of bimonthly mechanisms to evaluate and monitor the learning progress of students, inspiring ourselves in the central features of Prova Brasil to plan contents and activities as well as to assess them. - A specific team to act upon teachers who worked at the final years of primary school (fourth and fifth grades in Brazil). Their role was to assess classes, diagnose difficulties, research, accompany and intermediate actions relative to IDEB at any of the 51 schools, e.g. providing specially-crafted material to the final grades. - Another point worth mentioning was the approval of Ordinary Law nº 3755/2010, which allowed for the payment of premia (bonuses) to teachers working at schools whose IDEB performance had improved. Third Axis - Strengthening of school management Monitoring was widely improved at schools, with the offering of school management courses and problem- and action-accompanying-routines. All headmasters at the 51 schools took Financial Education courses to improve the application of financial resources. Besides theses improvements in the management of schools, there was a monthly report that had to be presented by every school to the SMED aimed at evaluating the following elements: - infrastructure; - equipments; - pedagogical activities; - specialised support; - human resources; - food supply; and - others.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Problem 1 - To deal with criticism from the press and teachers about external educational evaluation, like Prova Brasil and IDEB. Solution: Solution: The collaboration of the academy - from both public and private universities in the city - was crucial to surpass the critics as well as to support us in the cultural transformation which enabled the implementation of performance-based bonuses (the so called Paulo Freire prize), continuing education for teachers and changes in civil service admission process. Problem 2 - Unequal education and old cultural paradigms Solution: Notwithstanding the geographical, economical, cultural and educational differences among Foz do Iguaçu population Joane managed to encourage the team work, persistence and determination of public teachers and social agents. Grounded on motivation, commitment and responsibility teachers, students and parents shattered old paradigms, such as justifying weak educational performances by the students adverse socioeconomic conditions. Problem 3 - To keep up the teachers and employees motivation to accomplish the necessary transformation Solution: As a leader, Joane made a continuous effort to be present in the schools, to speak directly with the teachers and to be engaged in all the continuing education for teachers courses. The visits that she made to the schools in the first three months of work made a big difference. The proximity with employees as well as the joint formulation of a general plan was essential to integrate school staff. Moreover, the regular meetings contributed to maintaining a positive attitude toward avoiding new problems.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
What makes this initiative unique are the results reached by all the schools in the municipal education system. It was the first time in Brazil, since the IDEB started to be calculated, in which a city of over 200 thousand inhabitants reached expressive and quickly results in the expansion of Kindergarten and in the IDEB’s performance 2007-2011. More details of those results are presented in this archive: A summary of the main results: 1. The growth of Early Childhood Education enrolment from 2,870 (in 2007) to 8,512 children (in the end of 2012) 2. Universalization of the Kindergarten's reach (4 or 5 years) in 2012. The reliable data are from the School Census (Censo Escolar - INEP), starting in 2010. The evolution was of 3,299 students enrolled in 2010 to 4,730 students enrolled in 2012. 3. Reconstruction and renovation of 75% of the Municipal Schools in the period between 2008-2012. Examples of the construction work done: expansion of the classrooms, installation of an air conditioning system, construction of sports’ fields, laboratories and libraries. 4. Reduction of the distortion grade-age in two different areas (based on internal data from the SMED Foz do Iguaçu) - Reduction of the School’s Evasion of 134 in 2007 to 3 in 2011. - Reduction of School Failing percentages in all the schools of the local network from an average of 15% in 2007 to 2,3% in 2011. 5. Improvement in the quality of teaching, with students learning more and better in all schools - The data indicators Ideb/Prova Brasil improved in all schools, improving the average of 4,8 in the IDEB 2007 ( varying from 4,0 at the worst school to 5, at the best school) to an average of 7,0 in the IDEB 2011 ( varying 6,2 at the worst school to 8,6 at the best school). The result is relevant to Brazil, based on the fact that the national average was of 4,7. It is important to notice that the worst school in 2007 was JOAO XXIII, with a grade of 4,0 that, reached 6,9 in the 2011’s IDEB. And the best school in Brazil IDEB 2011 between 156.164 public schools in country, were Foz do Iguaçu school SANTA RITA DE CÁSSIA – reaching 8,6. The evolution of each school is available at: - The index in 2007 indicated that: (i) 60% of the students enrolled in the final grades of primary school did not reach a basic level in Portuguese, and (ii) 64% of the students enrolled in the final grades of primary school were below the basic mathematical knowledge. - The index in 2011 indicated an extensive reduction and it overcame the 2022’s goal: (i) 23% of the students enrolled in the last years of primary school did not reach a basic level in Portuguese; and (ii) 19% of the students enrolled in the final grades of the primary school were below the mathematics' basic knowledge

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The IDEB indicator clearly exposes the sustainable aspect of the project. Foz do Iguaçu managed to improve its grade from 7.0 in 2011 to 7.3 in 2013. That´s significant because, when Joane left the post as Secretary of Education in December 2012, another person took her place. The change was not only technical, but also political, since the opposition party had won the 2012 local elections, starting a new administration in January 2013. Despite this political change, the improvement of IDEB 2013 clearly shows that the initiative has been sustained. The maintenance and continuity of such an initiative was only possible due to a series of institutional measures taken in the 2008-2012 period. Worth mentioning are: (1) The approval of Ordinary number nº 3755/2010, which allowed for the payment of performance-based pecuniary bonuses to those teachers who worked at schools whose IDEB had improved ( (2) The approval of Law number 3568/2009, which institutes “Paulo Freire prize”, with an aim at recognising pedagogical inovations partaken by teachers in the city school network ( (3) The approval of Law number 4.017/2012, which created the City Council of Education ( The experience has received nationwide attention. It has shown up in Brazil’s most prestigious Sunday TV show: Fantástico, Globo Network, March 2014 ( Foz do Iguaçu experience was quoted by a plethora of media. E.g.: - Veja Magazine ( - Época Magazine ( - Folha de São Paulo Newspaper ( - Povo do Paraná Herald ( An important mechanism to spread the news about Foz do Iguaçu Education was citation in academic papers, e.g.: - Lemann Foundation´s Excellence and Equity publication ( - Domenico Demasi´s articles - Paulino Motter´s articles - Celso Antunes´ articles. To extend the impact of the initiative, Joane have two areas of action: (1) She is now Sub-Secretary of Education of the City of São Paulo and acting in the Brazil’s largest city to bring results in to 11 million inhabitants. (2) She intend to co-write a book detailing many aspects of the transformation which Foz do Iguaçu has gone through, hoping it will become a reference to a new generation of Education secretaries, especially in the next local elections to be hold in 2016.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
(1) Teachers appreciation and teamwork: it is impossible to approach student’s development without considering the SMED employees’ hard work, who were proactive and acted in goodwill. Undoubtedly, their motivation and group work were decisive to the project’s success. The joint formulation of the SMED’s Plan, the constants visits to the schools, the elaboration of handouts and mock exams and the implementation of the performance-based bonuses: nothing would have happened without the teachers’ efforts. (2) Schools’ autonomy: the municipal schools were supposed to follow the SMED’s guidelines, but were granted autonomy to put forth and implement their own strategies and methods of teaching. It is, of course, a limited autonomy, but enough to incentive two very positive things: proactive leadership of the schools management boards and effective engagement of teachers on the school planning. (3) Professionalization of the school and educational management: the SMED had a professional management between 2008 and 2012, with autonomy to implement the reform on the city’s school network. With Joane expertise as a teacher and former principal, she knew exactly what the most common problems of the main management body of a system were. One of it’s first initiatives was to assemble a multidisciplinary team engaged with the project of improving the quality of education to support the schools. The second step was to create a new culture of school management, based on the establishment of performance goals to each school of the city network. The IDEB, created in 2005, was used as the index to measure the progress accomplished, but improving the score wasn’t the main goal; the most important thing was to improve the quality of the education. (4) Concern with the development of all the students, supporting the most vulnerable areas, promoting inclusion: SMED acted as a facilitator and provider of pedagogic support to the schools, making available a multidisciplinary team, with health professionals (psychologists, social assistants and phonoaudiologists) for each of the five areas of the city. This jointed work between the fields of healt, education and social assistance was made possible by the Project “Construindo a Cidadania”, started in 2009 with federal funds, and has been paramount to keep attendance and ensure the learning of kids in situations of social vulnerability. (5) Believing that change is possible: having faith in the process and trusting that the team would be capable of achieve the dream of a quality education for Foz do Iguaçu. Joane says “Hope was essential to break old paradigms of Brazilian education, e.g. attributing low results in the learning process to poor socioeconomic families, promoting equality with a quality education system”.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Secretaria de Educação de Foz do Iguaçu
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Joane Vilela Pinto
Title:   Municipal Secretary of Education of Foz do Iguaçu  
Telephone/ Fax:   +5511966559326
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Rua Borges Lagoa, 1230
Postal Code:   04038-003
City:   São Paulo
State/Province:   SP

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