Lighthouses are not something you typically expect to see almost 100 kilometres from the coast. But in the Brazilian city of Curitiba (the capital of Paraná state) there are some 50 brightly-coloured lighthouses spread through the city’s neighbourhoods. These “Faróis do Saber” (“Lighthouses of Knowledge”) are free community education centres that offer library lending, internet access and other learning opportunities to Curitiba’s 1.9 million inhabitants.
The lighthouses – 40 of which are integrated with the city’s primary schools – are tangible symbols of Curitiba’s dedication to improving the lives of its citizens through investing in their education. It’s a strategy that’s working: among Brazil’s state capitals, Curitiba has the highest literacy rate and ranks 1st in education. It has also received a Globe Sustainable City Award and has been named by Reader’s Digest as the best Brazilian big city to live in.
As part of Curitiba’s drive to continue developing this successful model, the city’s Secretary of Education, Maria Sílvia Bacila, and Head of International Relations, Rodolpho Zannin Feijó, visited Finland on fact-finding mission in May. The city’s representatives were interested to find out more about Finland University’s teacher training models, as well as to share learnings from Curitiba’s experience.
“Finland is a leader in inclusive education, which is one of the main areas of interest for Curitiba’s teachers. Finland also uses technology in education a lot more than we do in Brazil,” said Ms. Bacila. “These are the areas in which we can collaborate, and I also believe there is a lot that Finland University can learn from our experience in Curitiba.”
Ongoing teacher training
Curitiba’s department of education runs an ongoing training program for the city’s 17,000 primary school teachers and support staff. Called “Veredas” (“Paths”), the program is a comprehensive hybrid-education model combining classroom work, online learning and self-study. Teachers can do courses in pedagogical methods, creativity and group work, as well as on using robotics, augmented reality and other technologies in the classroom. The content of Veredas also covers topics like gender equality and the Rights of the Child, in a conscious effort by the city to follow the charter set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“Brazil is a very interesting and important country for us,” says Finland University CEO, Pekka Saavalainen. “There is more than one education model in the country, as the way the different states are governed varies so much. So we really appreciate being able to strengthen our collaboration with different people involved in education there.”
PHOTOS: Mari Argillander
Second Photo from top: (from left) Professor, 2. Vice Dean at University of Eastern Finland Pertti Väisänen; Head of International Affairs of Curitiba Rodolpho Feijó; Secretary of Education of Curitiba Maria Silvia Bacila Winkeler; Director of International Affairs at the University of Eastern Finland Riitta Keinänen; Lecturer at University of Eastern Finland Minna Mäkihonko
Third photo from top: Secretary of Education of Curitiba Maria Silvia Bacila Winkeler (right) and Kirsi-Liisa Koskinen-Sinisalo, Administrative Principal at University of Tampere Teacher Training School.
Fourth photo from top: (from left) Doctoral student at University of Eastern Finland Lais Oliveira Leite; Head of International Affairs of Curitiba Rodolpho Feijó; Secretary of Education of Curitiba Maria Silvia Bacila Winkeler; Lecturer at University of Eastern Finland Minna Mäkihonko
Mirka Gustafsson, Key Account Manager, Finland University
More of Finland University's work in Brazil:
Finland University is the international education brand, and marketing and sales company of four leading Finnish research universities: University of Eastern Finland, University of Tampere, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. All universities are in the top 2% of global university rankings.
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