By Julia Averbuck, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Schools located in Rio’s favela neighborhoods with UPPs (Police Pacifying Units) had a larger increase on their test score results in the Brazilian Índice de Desenvolvimento da Educação Básica (Ideb, Index of Development in Basic Education) than their counterparts in the remainder of Rio, according to a report by O Globo.
The study looked at the first and second segments, which corresponds with grades 1-5 and 6-9 respectively, of primary schools in communities with UPPs.
The largest difference was recorded in the second-segment of primary education, the eight schools located in pacified regions improved their score in the Ideb by 42.8 percent, from a score of 2.8 in 2009 to score of four.
The 31 schools in non-pacified “violent areas” improved by 28.2 percent, from 3.15 in 2009 to 4.04 now. The remaining 332 schools improved their score by 25 percent, from 3.6 to 4.5.
In the younger-student first-segment, the 24 schools had an average improvement of 11.8 percent, raising their average score in the Ideb from 4.48 in 2009 to 5.01 in 2011.
The other ninety first-segment schools located in the remaining violent areas improved their performance by 6.8 percent, increasing their score from 4.72 to 5.04, and the remaining 572 schools in other areas improved their scores by 7.7 percent, from 5.2 to 5.6.
The schools in pacified regions still have the lowest absolute score, even in comparison to non-pacified violent areas. The reason for this is that schools in the areas with UPPs started from a much lower score, of 4.48 compared to 4.72, probably due to the same violence that drove the government to prioritize them as areas for pacification and UPPs.
According to the Secretary of Municipal Education, Claudia Costin, the superior improvement of 3.2 percent by schools in violent favela communities over schools in non-violent areas can be attributed to a program by the Municipal Secretariat of Education entitled Escolas do Amanhã (Schools of Tomorrow).
The Escolas do Amanhã program started in 2009 and provides support for 152 schools and more than 105,000 students in violent areas of Rio.
According to UNESCO consultant at the Escolas do Amanhã Program, Samantha Barthelemy, the joint action of the program in several different areas within education is what seems to be contributing to its success, but it is the ideal of “full-time” education that is absolutely crucial to the program.
“The program takes into account that it is easier to lose a student in a conflict area that in other schools, so it works to attract the students in various ways,” says Barthelemy.
“Full-time education, which goes beyond the normal class hours of 7-11:30 AM, means more than longer hours. It also means a more complete education, helping students with their homework after class hours and involving them in extracurricular activities.”
The number of absences and dropout have also fallen in 19 of the 32 schools in pacified areas. The method used to assess growth was created in 2005 by Inep (National Institute for Studies and Research Anísio Teixeira), which is a part of the Ministry of Education (MEC).
The biennial index known as Ideb takes into account students’ performance in an exam called Prova Brasil (Brazil Exam), which assess performance in Portuguese and Mathematics, and the rate of failure. This year, Rio de Janeiro state had the second largest increase in the country with 0.4 points, second only to Goiás.
This helped Rio jump from the second to last, to the fifteenth position in just two years. The improvement from 2.8 in 2009 to 3.2 in 2011 meant Rio surpassed the Ideb goal of 3.1. Despite improvements however, Rio is still the last state in the Southeast region.
This improvement in Rio’s education is not the only benefit that the UPPs have brought to the inhabitants of the pacified favelas. Earlier this year, UPPs were also found to have a correlation with improved commercial activity in the regions.