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Investing in Each Student's Potential

The leading role of the Education Networks and the programs we support were decisive in tackling the learning challenges aggravated by the pandemic.

Graphic composition with photos of teachers and children surrounded by colorful graphics.
Graphic composition with photos of teachers and children surrounded by colorful graphics.

Impacts of the pandemic on learning: assessment and action

The second year of the pandemic, 2021, began with expectations of resuming in-person classes. Unfortunately, the strongest wave of COVID-19 hit the country in March and April, and schools remained closed, with most academic days involving remote activities.

The impacts the pandemic had on learning appeared in the research series, “Remote learning from the students’ and their families’ perspectives,” that the Lemann Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Itaú Social commissioned to Datafolha. The research showed that 40% of 6-to-18-year-old students had no learning progression, showed lack of motivation, and stated they may drop out of school.

To reduce the negative impact sof school closures on learning, Fundação Lemann, Instituto Natura, and Vozes da Educação worked with 10 states to build health protocols and outreach strategies to families. Based on our learnings, we published a paper on how to get students back in school, methods to recover lost learning, and how to assist children in dealing with the emotional aftermath of the isolation.

The Lemann Foundation partner networks had a 2.5-times-lower drop in learning than the rest of the country. The result represents the efforts put forth by Associação Bem Comum, coordinator of Educar pra Valer and the Collaborative Literacy Program (PARC), and by Instituto Gesto, which implements Formar. Together, the networks impacted more than 2.8 million students.

To break racial inequalities

Throughout the year, the departments of education participating in the PARC, Educar pra Valer, and Formar programs worked to enhance learning, including conducting fundamental discussions about the relationship between race and inequality. Three key steps were established to assist the efforts of the PARC, EpV and Formar networks:



We mapped the level of racial literacy in the 37 education networks surveyed and the leadership’s engagement with the topic. The survey indicated that, even though they are open to working on the problem, most of those leaders still feel underprepared to implement anti-racist practices.



Education professionals weren’t comfortable talking openly about race, so two online workshops addressed structural and historical racism, bullying, prejudice, empowerment, lived experience, and legislation.



To overcome the lack of national references on the subject, the partner organization Interdisciplinarity and Evidence in Educational Debate (IEDE) prepared a guide for those who want to implement a racial equity assessment.

A black child may have to face a hostile environment. If teachers expect you to learn differently than your peers because of your race, it is devastating to your self-esteem.”
Sonya Douglass Horsford, professor at Columbia University, in the USA, in an interview with Folha de S. Paulo
Watch the lecture with Professor Sonya Douglass Horsford during the 2021 Brazil Conference at Harvard+MIT.

A path to more equitable education

Equity in education means differentiating what each student needs and ensuring their rights and opportunities based on those needs. That is the mission of the Lemann Center for Leadership for Equity in Education, inaugurated in 2021 and headquartered in Sobral, a city in Ceará that is country’s top success case for literacy. The work is focused on two programs: Training for Educational Leadership and Applied Research.

Education for environmental justice

In the northern region, the preservation of Amazonian biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional communities prompted Instituto Gesto to partner with the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) and create the Plantar Educação Program. The initiative supports municipal education networks in pedagogical and administrative management and fosters education for sustainability through initiatives to generate employment and income-based on forest preservation.

We want the Lemann Center to break the normalization of failure and create high expectations for each and every student's education.”
Photo of Anna Penido, Executive Director of the Lemann Center in Sobral.
Anna Penido, executive director of the Lemann Center in Sobral
We believe that quality policies empower local populations to foster sustainable livelihoods using their own cultures and experiences.””
Photo of Kátia Schweickardt, founder of the Plantar Program and specialist at Instituto Gesto.
Kátia Schweickardt, founder of the Plantar program and specialist at Instituto Gesto
Graphic composition with photos of children studying, surrounded by colorful graphics.

Democratizing access to the English language

In Brazil, the ability to become fluent in a second language is blocked by inequality. It has long been the privilege of a few. With Skills for Prosperity, the British Government in consortium with the Lemann Foundation, Associação Nova Escola, Instituto Reúna, and the British Council, directly impacted how more than 20,000 educators teach English. In 2021, the program distributed 1.8 million textbooks to students and teachers, produced guides for elementary, middle, and high school, and launched the Language Improvement For Teachers (LIFT) online course. The inability to speak English is a major obstacle to entering many segments of the professional workforce.

Action that generates innovation

Placing the student at the center of the learning process is not so simple. New practices must be adopted. Therefore, the Lemann Foundation finances and guides programs that support departments of education and schools to implement strategies (at right) that prevent and reduce gaps in Portuguese and Math and adopt creative learning. An Innovation Laboratory was created to expand the results of the Lemann Foundation’s technology and digital transformation activities.

Designing the education of the future

ImpulsiONar Program

Edtech pedagogical and digital solutions will be implemented in municipal schools and monitored for continuous improvement in communities that practice them to prevent and reduce learning gaps in Portuguese and Math.

Watch the ImpulsiONar Manifesto

Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures Alliance

This alliance is an investment strategy that operates on four innovation fronts. Among its initiatives is AprendiZAP, a platform for engagement and learning via WhatsApp, and the STEAM Training Center for science and technology teachers, a partnership between the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Instituto Singularidades.


Creative Schools of the Brazilian Creative Learning Network (Rede Brasileira de Aprendizagem Criativa – RBAC)

The Lemann Foundation and LEGO Foundation are partners in this program, which promotes the systemic adoption of creative learning at-scale in public education networks. In 2021, it selected nine municipal school districts and one state district, reaching 75 schools, 22,000 students, and 1,500 teachers from the first to fifth grades.