| 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 https://www.dropbox.com/s/l3rcmxv3tgqi0ai/_Uniamerica%20-%2005-10.pptx?dl=0).
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:
- pedagogical activities;
- specialised support;
- human resources;
- food supply; and
| 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.