Brazil's poor get £5.7m boost to learning

January 3, 2003

Brazil is to make cash available for cramming courses to enable its underprivileged young people to go to university.

The move reflects the pledge by the country's new president, Luiz In cio da Silva (Lula), to broaden the life chances of poor sections of society.

A new Diversity in the University programme aims to improve the learning conditions and opportunities for students of African origin and of indigenous Indians, as well as other poorer sectors of the population.

The programme will last for three years and will receive R$34 million (£5.7 million) - R$19 million from the Inter-American Development Bank and R$15 million from the Brazilian Federal Treasury.

Outgoing president Fernando Henrique Cardoso and President Lula, working together via an interim government committee, agreed to the funding from Brasilia.

The department of secondary and technical education in the ministry of education and Unesco have already signed contracts with six non-governmental organisations to fund cramming courses to prepare students from socially disadvantaged groups for university entrance examinations.

Initial funding will be R$343,000, with the promise of more to come.

"This project constitutes a great learning experience for the students and for us here at the ministry," said Maria Beatriz Gomes da Silva, director of secondary and higher education.

She said that ministry officials would cast a scientific eye over the project for assistance in formulating public policies on behalf of the more disadvantaged classes.

Other initiatives to boost the education of Brazil's poor and underprivileged are expected this month.

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