Brazilian Companies Offer Education To Needy Kids

Originally published on May 26, 2011 5:43 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Juan Forero has the story of one innovative program run by a Brazilian bank.

JUAN FORERO: Flavia Witzel's classroom is filled with new toys and books for her gaggle of 5-year-olds, all 28 of them decked out in new uniforms.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: A decade ago, Witzel was a student at this same school, run in an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo by the Bradesco Foundation, part of the Bradesco Bank.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: This school is big, with more than 1,600 students, and its tuition free for needy families from the neighborhood, says Denise Aguiar, director of the Bradesco Foundation.

M: We construct the schools, and we run the schools. Physically, it's like a private school because they are huge schools. They are constructed to be a school.

FORERO: Andres Souza is an economist who studies education, and he says the problem is a public school system that fails to properly educate children.

P: We are faring not well and actually dramatically below many other countries. Basically, our schools don't work.

FORERO: Terezinha Simoes(ph) agrees. She managed to get her grandson, Igor, into the Bradesco school, but not her granddaughter who remains in a public school.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: Marcelo Amaral once taught in public schools.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: Now, he's teaching math here at Bradesco, earning more and getting more time to do research and prepare for class.

FORERO: Keep working, creating your profile. OK?

FORERO: At Antonio Ghilard's science lab, students learn the difference between chemical and physical reactions. Explaining why, he helps his students light gas under beakers filled with water.

M: We can do whatever we want because we have so many resources.

FORERO: Among the students who are benefiting is Helen Confertino(ph). She's 14 and once went to a pubic school.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: Juan Forero, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.