Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives (300 words maximum)
The Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS), in order to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and guarantee the Brazilian constitutional rights to health and higher education of its university students, adopted innovative initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing the maintenance of academic and administrative activities. UFMS was one of the three Brazilian federal public universities to maintain its activities, fulfilling its institutional and social mission. With the emergency remote teaching for students and home office for servers, emergency assistance for digital inclusion was made available, such as costing internet packages, mobile data chip distribution, electronic equipment loan, financing of personal protection equipment and installation of internet via radio in villages for indigenous students, an innovative project in Brazil called “Connected Villages”. Professors were offered training courses on information and communication technology tools and innovative methodologies for remote teaching. Furthermore, UFMS offered free molecular testing and diagnosis of Sars-Cov-2 to members of the academic community of Cidade Universitária who presented symptoms of Covid-19. In addition to academic and administrative activities, UFMS stood out as support in campaign laboratories, in the production of alcohol for entities and the public sector in Mato Grosso do Sul, in volunteer support groups, in front-line healthcare, in vaccination, and in carrying out research projects to fight and overcome the post-pandemic of Covid-19, in the most diverse areas of knowledge, all linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. All these actions carried out by UFMS, besides highlighting it on the national scene, made it possible to complete the 2020 academic calendar within the same year, an achievement that took place only in two other Brazilian federal universities. In 2021, UFMS continued its innovative initiatives to fight the pandemic, with assistance to students, servers and society.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category (100 words maximum)
The set of innovative actions carried out by UFMS to face the pandemic and continue academic and administrative activities, in addition to contributing to society beyond the university walls, made UFMS stand out in Brazil as a reference among federal institutions of higher education in 2020 and 2021. Because of this success, there is full alignment with the special category of the United Nations Public Service Awards: institutional resilience and innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. UFMS made every effort to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on higher education and its administrative activities.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation (200 words maximum)
Sustainable development is a constant pursuit by UFMS, as the institutional mission is "to develop and socialize knowledge, training qualified professionals for the transformation of society and the sustainable growth of the country", intertwining with the Objectives of United Nations Sustainable Development (SDG). The University's innovative initiatives in this pandemic period meet at least SDG 3 (Health and well-being), SDG 4 (Quality education), SDG 10 (Reduction of inequalities), SDG 16 (Peace, justice and effective institutions) and SDG 17 (Partnerships and means of implementation).
UFMS provided conditions for its nearly 27,000 students and 3,500 servants to maintain their academic and administrative activities, even remotely, in addition to contributing to society in confronting Covid-19. Thus, innovative initiatives were taken by UFMS during the pandemic, aimed at preserving the physical and mental health of students and servers during social isolation and, mainly, avoiding school dropouts.
The innovative initiatives are linked to digital inclusion, training aimed at the use of technology tools used in academic activities and protecting the health of members of the university community. Several partnerships with government agencies and private institutions made the local society to be served by actions arising from the university, contributing to the fight against the pandemic.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms (100 words maximum)
UFMS' innovative initiatives in the pandemic had a social bias, through projects related to the digital inclusion of low-income students, ensuring the continuity of academic and administrative activities, preventing school dropouts during the pandemic. So that the actions could be carried out, UFMS acted quickly and with governance, making budget adjustments to the new context, in addition to seeking partnerships with public and private institutions to raise more financial resources for projects that contributed to society in fighting the pandemic. The health context of the municipalities where the university is present and the guidelines of the health authorities were always observed.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
Dropping out of school and digital inclusion are major social problems in Brazil, especially for the economically most vulnerable and indigenous peoples. The pandemic further aggravated social differences, increased school dropout rates and showed the problems related to Brazilian indigenous peoples, both in terms of access to health care and education. Citizens who have access to digital media were able to continue their studies, while those with low incomes had to be supported with aid not to drop out of their studies.
UFMS, aware that the public university has the social role of transforming lives through education, acted quickly, with governance and planning, so that its students would not leave their studies during the period of social isolation. With investments in digital training for teachers and students, digital inclusion actions and protection of the physical and mental health of students and servers, UFMS has not interrupted its activities, ending the school year on schedule through emergency remote teaching and remote work, using communication and information technology tools. The indigenous students were also supported so that they could study from within their villages, avoiding contamination by the coronavirus.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
The University created the program “Se Cuide, Te amo!” (Take care, I love you!), aiming at monitoring and supporting actions that can offer quality of life of people (servers and students), during the pandemic.
As an extension of this program, the University created the I AM WOMAN UFMS Program, with actions aimed at women at UFMS. The concept of the Program is to act in different areas of service, knowledge and enhancement of women, linking the initiative to the SDG 5: GENDER EQUALITY. Thus, the program aims to act in institutional dimensions, joining joint efforts to ensure effective gender equality.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
The UFMS’ innovative initiatives to fight the pandemic aimed mainly to serve its students and servants, however, there were several other actions that benefited society in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, since the university is present in 10 cities. The main positive result for the students was the continuity of studies and the conclusion of undergraduate courses in 2020, due to the emergency remote teaching implemented. About 2,300 new professionals were handed over to society, after completing their undergraduate courses in 2020. If you add this number to the number of graduates who graduate, there were 3,500 recent graduates.
Aware of the social problems related to access to health and education, which are still present in Brazil, which would be aggravated by the pandemic, UFMS also mobilized so that society beyond the university walls was served in several projects related to physical and mental health, vaccination, education, economics, among other areas, not only during, but also after the pandemic. Society was benefited from resources and quick actions arising from these projects, from the receipt of alcohol to economic lessons for entrepreneurs to recover, which would take time if they awaited the action of other sectors of public power.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
The decisions taken by the UFMS demonstrated performance in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the State Health Department of Mato Grosso do Sul. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UFMS has disclosed, through its institutional communication channels, guidelines to the university community on preventive measures against the dissemination of the coronavirus, gathering all the information on a website created exclusively for this purpose: www. ufms.br/coronavirus.
The UFMS Emergency Operating Committee (COE) was constituted on March 2020. The COE is formed by specialists in the various strategic areas related to health, being responsible for providing guidance on issues related to Covid-19 within the University. The monitoring of the pandemic by the COE is continuous, causing new strategies to be suggested and, in particular, the evaluation of health scenarios.
On March 2020, was created the UFMS Contingency Plan, an administration and management instrument used to manage and plan actions to fight the pandemic. Cross-cutting measures were taken to reduce dissemination, organized into three interdependent dimensions: 1) People Care Measures; 2) Measures of Academic Activities; and 3) Communication Measures.
Academic Activities Guide during Covid-19, is a document aimed at professors, administrative technicians and undergraduate and graduate students, which presents suggestions on how to deal with studies during the replacement period of on-site activities.
Remote work for servers (professors and technicians) was authorized and regulated by the University.
The University developed a Biosafety Plan, with guidelines for the university community on procedures in relation to the pandemic.
The University also created the program “Se Cuide, Te amo! (Take care, I love you!), aiming at monitoring and supporting the university community, in the sense of carrying out actions that can offer improvements to the quality of life of people (servers and students).
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
In March 2020, due to insecurity and uncertainties with the pandemic scenario, there was resistance from the academic community regarding the migration of teaching and work presential to the remote form. The university administration understood and acted with governance in order to ensure the continuity of academic and administrative activities, promoting, early on, training for teachers, students and civil servants in the use of information and communication technology tools, and seeking means of enabling students to access the internet, in addition to improving academic systems, overcoming this first and main obstacle.The search for partners for the projects was also intense.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
The actions of digital inclusion, health care for students and servers and the implementation of remote emergency education idealized by UFMS to fight the pandemic can be considered innovative, considering that UFMS was one of the 3 federal universities (among more 60 nationwide) who managed to complete the 2020 school year on schedule.
In Brazil, during the pandemic, there was a large number of school dropouts at all levels of education, from kindergarten to higher education. UFMS was an exception, as it managed to keep most of its students enrolled and studying, ensuring the continuity of their professional qualification.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
UFMS Biosafety Plan, with guidelines for the university community on procedures in relation to the pandemic was the first plan published among Federal Universities in the country, having become a reference for the Ministry of Education (MEC) in the National Biosafety Plan.
In April 2020, an unprecedented selection was opened for economically vulnerable students with difficulties in accessing the internet to receive financial assistance to pay for the acquisition of internet data packet. This initiative became a reference for the MEC, which created the “Alunos Conectados” program, distributing mobile data chips for cell phones to all students in the country.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how those were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
Since 2016, UFMS has been undergoing a digital transformation. Since 2017, all administrative processes at the university have been electronic, reducing the use of paper. Gradually, several administrative systems were created, such as the electronic work record for servers, vacation system, digital registrations, property system, etc. The pandemic and social distancing made UFMS act quickly in the sense of migrating all face-to-face activities to the remote form, which accelerated the process of implementing new systems and improving existing ones. The digital university and inclusion actions during the pandemic led UFMS to remain active in 2020 and 2021. UFMS Systems: www.sistemas.ufms.br.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
UFMS is the largest public university in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, present in 10 municipalities, each with a different economic and social reality. All research and extension projects created to fight the pandemic, as well as partnerships with various institutions, made UFMS contribute to different local, regional and national needs. The “Connected Villages” project benefited not only indigenous students at UFMS, but also all communities where internet via radio was installed. Financial aid and digital inclusion assisted students and servers in each of their specificities.
The UFMS Biosafety Plan was the first plan published among Federal Universities in the country, becoming a reference for the Ministry of Education (MEC) in the National Biosafety Plan, which guided the other federal educational institutions.
The unprecedented selection for economically vulnerable students with difficulty in accessing the internet to receive financial assistance to pay for the acquisition of an internet data package, also became a model for the MEC, which created the “Connected Students” program, which started distributing chips of mobile data to cell phones to all students in the country.
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
All innovative actions and projects carried out by UFMS have the potential to transfer/adaptability to other contexts, not only for the various federal universities in Brazil, but also for other public and private institutions that can draw inspiration from the various examples, but for this, management and governance focused on the purpose of contributing to society and sustainable development is necessary.
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
Mainly human resources (teachers, technicians and students) and financial resources were used. As a priority policy, UFMS prospected external resources and partnerships to support / operationalize the execution of ideas and projects. Thus, the proposals were presented to strategic and institutional partners to raise budgetary and financial resources for the feasibility and execution of the projects. With this, a total of R$ 9,525,354.17 were financed by external institutions, such as the Ministry of Education, State Health Department, in addition to the Federal Regional Court of the 3rd Region, among other partners.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
The transition from face-to-face activities to online mode and all initiatives to support students/servers through projects and university administrative management throughout the pandemic period are sustainable over time in financial and institutional terms. UFMS has become an even more digital university, its academic and administrative systems have been improved, saving time and financial resources in several aspects (electricity, water, displacements, procedural steps, etc.). The remote work of servers and digital inclusion aids tend to remain at the university. In addition, the various projects that benefited society outside the UFMS will be able to continue, improving and increasing their scope.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
All actions were monitored by the UFMS administration, with data obtained through institutional administrative and academic systems, being the object of periodic reports: Report of institutional actions to confront Covid-19 and its benefits to society; Monitoring report of actions during emergency remote teaching 2020 and 2021.1. In addition to their own internal monitoring and evaluation, external control bodies are also following up on UFMS' innovative initiatives during the pandemic, such as the Federal Public Ministry, State Public Ministry, Federal Comptroller General, Federal Court of Accounts, Labor Public Ministry, as well as the partners who allocated financial resources for university projects.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used (100 words maximum)
For the monitoring and evaluation of actions, the following indicators were used in numbers: psychosocial care; Covid tests performed; remote work servers; digital inclusion scholarships, emergency aid and student aid awarded; servers and students participating in training on the use of technology tools; access to teaching platforms; conferences held; enrolled undergraduate and graduate students; vaccinated servers and students; volunteer groups to work to fight the pandemic, financial resources received from public and private institutions for projects against Covid. All data were obtained through institutional administrative and academic systems that concentrate these types of data.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how this information is being used to inform the initiative’s implementation. (200 words maximum)
The continuity of academic activities (for professors and students) and administrative activities (for servants) avoided losses both socially and for the public service and society in general. UFMS remained active, fulfilling its role in education, training professionals and collaborating with society through its projects. In addition, investments in tools, adequate means for the continuity of studies and work, and support for various projects, provided an increase in the motivation and performance of those involved. Despite the resistance of the academic community at the beginning of the pandemic due to uncertainties, today the vast majority of UFMS members (students, professors and servants) agree that the decision not to interrupt the university's activities during the pandemic was the best decision taken by the administration.
UFMS stood out in the way it faced the pandemic, its academic calendar is up to date, its students are advancing in their studies, there was little school dropout, several aids were made available to students: financial and digital inclusion, several partners believed in and supported the projects of coping with Covid-19. The results are positive and the good projects and practices must continue at the university. Health protection and the right to study were guaranteed by UFMS.
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how it was situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how the institutional relationships with those have been operating). (200 words maximum)
The innovative initiatives carried out by UFMS to face the pandemic were duly registered and followed the legal procedures established by current legislation and institutional norms. The partner institutions that participated with financial resources in certain projects, contributed by believing in the important role that UFMS would have during the pandemic period for society. The university accounted for all investments of funds received.
Examples of partnerships are cited:
Ministry of Education - contributed around R$ 7 million in actions to fight Covid-19 and purchase technology equipment for students and servers.
Mato Grosso do Sul State Health Department – R$ 850,000.00 for UFMS laboratories for the diagnosis of Sars-Cov-2; in addition to providing internships and volunteer work for nursing, medicine and pharmacy students in the “O Brasil Conta Comigo” program.
Copagaz Company and Federal Regional Court – financial resources for the production of alcohol and sanitizing products to fight the Coronavirus
UFMS solidified its image as a teaching and research institution of excellence, with credibility, which makes public and private institutions trust and want to become partners in strategic projects in the various areas of knowledge in which the university operates.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
Inclusion was the main path chosen by UFMS to guarantee the continuity of studies for students and the provision of services to society. In addition to fostering external resources, UFMS, with its own resources, contributed financially to the execution of projects, with 350 monthly quotas of extension scholarships (R$ 400.00), which financially supported nearly a hundred academics working in the projects. The total invested in scholarships for students until the end of 2020 was R$ 140,000.00.
The main external partners are: Ministry of Education of Brazil - allocated resources to digital inclusion projects for students and actions such as the creation and equipping of laboratories for Covid-19's diagnosis and research. Mato Grosso do Sul State Health Department - invested in coronavirus diagnostic projects, remote care, Covid test drive-thru. Federal Regional Court, voluntary donations and the Copagaz company - contributed resources for the production of alcohol to be distributed at the university and to various institutions and places, such as hospitals, health centers and indigenous villages. Federal Public Ministry – actions to protect indigenous peoples in the pandemic. Copagaz and Cavagna companies – investment in university hospital facilities.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
UFMS, through the ideas and actions presented and the resulting work fronts initiated, show the leading role that the Institution assumed in confronting Covid-19, and its importance for Mato Grosso do Sul and for Brazil, evidencing the certainty that UFMS will always contribute to serving society by building a stronger country every day.
Planning and governance are part of the administration of UFMS, thus, the decisions taken in this new pandemic scenario ratified the university's credibility in society.
We learned that it is possible to maintain quality activities and studies, guaranteeing the rights to education and health, with the inclusion of social and economic vulnerable people in access to digital media, avoiding school dropouts; the physical and mental well-being of servers, teachers and students; partnerships with public and private institutions, which further strengthen the university and its role in contributing to society.
Despite the positive results in recent months, UFMS wants to continue improving its management, to become a model of sustainable, technological, digital and inclusive university, offering free and quality public education to society.