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29/01/2018 - 07:00hs

Brazilian professors competing for prize in the UAE

Rubens Ferronato and Diego Mahfouz Faria Lima are among the top 50 of the Global Teacher Prize, sponsored by the Arab country’s prime minister. The winner will be announced on March 18.

São Paulo – Two Brazilian educators are among the top 50 of the Global Teacher Prize, a yearly award that is considered the “Nobel” of education. Rubens Ferronato and Diego Mahfouz Faria Lima confirmed their presence at the award ceremony, scheduled for March 18 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Ferronato and his Multiplano

Organized by the Varkey Foundation, a British charity organization, and sponsored by the UAE’s prime minister and vice-president, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Global Teacher Prize takes place since 2014 and offers a prize of USD 1 million do the winner.

Both teachers received awards at a national level and now are seeking for international recognition. The professors plan to put the money offered by the prime minister, in the case they win it, in the projects by which they were nominated to the Global Teacher Prize.

Ferronato’s project is the education material Multiplano, developed by him in 2000. The tool helps in the teaching of mathematics to blind people. “It’s a perforated plaque with pins, plastic and rods, capable of teaching up to 108 mathematical themes,” explained the professor in an interview to ANBA.

Once a week, the professor uses the tool at public school Escola Estadual Dom Pedro II, at Batel district, in Curitiba, with blind students. Using their hearing and touch, the students interpret the Multiplano and learn the content. But the tool is not limited to blind people: “It can be used by disabled students. The concept is universal, it’s good for everyone,” he said.

Ferronato plans to use the award to broaden the use of the equipment to other eleven languages, plus Portuguese. “I selected the most widely-spoken across the world,” he said. The next step is to implement the Multiplano in 30 countries, with the goal being three per year. “The idea is to go to the most densely populated countries, to disseminate the use,” he said.

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Renovated front of public school Escola Darcy Ribeiro

Meanwhile, the nomination of Faria Lima occurred because of his work at public school Escola Municipal Darcy Ribeiro, in São José do Rio Preto (454 km from São Paulo). He took over a school with problems such as vandalism, high evasion rates and even drug trafficking and transformed it into a reference school in the region.

“We promoted actions that aimed to give voice to the students and make them protagonists,” said the professor to ANBA. Faria Lima took over Darcy Ribeiro in 2014 and lowered the student evasion rate of over 200 students to only 2 in his first year.

To achieve this, he created actions such as the opening of the school in the weekends for the teaching of classical music, an astronomy club and even a mediation committee for conflicts. “The fights at the school entrance happened nearly daily. With this committee, the students themselves began to identify situations such as conflicts, bullying, and to call the parts involved to a dialogue,” he explained.

Currently with 930 students, Darcy Ribeiro doesn’t punish the students anymore. “We removed the punitive aspect from the school. Things are solved through dialogue, we changed the view of the students and staff,” said the professor. According to him, before he took over, the school had an average of 60 notices and suspensions of students per week. Now, it doesn’t suspend anymore.

In case he wins the award, Faria Lima will invest the money on the foundation of a NGO to broaden the scope of his projects. Before the trip to Dubai, he and Ferronato are waiting for the announcement of the top 10 of the Global Teacher Prize, which is set for February.

Last year, Brazilian Wemerson Nogueira reached the top 10 with his social project “Young Scientists: Designing a New Future”, in Espírito Santo. The winner was the Canadian Maggie MacDonnell.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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