In a move that will help transform education in Brazil by incorporating play into learning, the LEGO Foundation has awarded the Lemann Foundation nearly $4 million through its first-ever Tech and Play Initiative.
The Lemann Foundation is one of only three organizations selected for the prize and will implement the four-year Creative Schools Program in partnership with the Brazilian Creative Learning Network (BCLN). More than 500,000 students across 20 public school districts will benefit from the program.
The project will foster the creation of playful, creative, and relevant hands-on education opportunities for students that leverage a combination of both creative technology and simple recyclable materials easily available in Brazilian schools such as paper and cardboard.
“When hearing the word ‘technology,’ the mind can sometimes jump to complex and costly things like tablets and laptops, said Sarah Bouchie, Chief Impact Officer from The LEGO Foundation, “but it can also include very simple and accessible tools like paper and scissors to help children play, tinker, and learn.”
Brazil faces a learning poverty crisis with fully half of all Brazilian students still illiterate by the third grade. Brazil’s poor performance in the OECD’s PISA rankings for Math and Science is ascribed to outdated content-based, teacher-centered instruction. The Lemann Foundation has long led the movement for a shift to competency-based, student-centered education.
Lucas Rocha, Innovation Manager for the Lemann Foundation said Brazil’s poor showing on the PISA rankings “demonstrates that more needs to be done to encourage students’ capacity for conceptual understanding. Improving the learning outcomes of our 48 million students is a pressing need of Brazilian education right now.”
The program will be delivered in partnership with several renowned US institutions: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, and The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium, California.
Through working closely with teachers from the BCLN who are already engaged in the methodology of creative learning, the Foundation will use the Creative Schools Program to develop creative learning leaders who can share their expertise with colleagues, helping to embed creative learning in the Brazilian schools and leaving a lasting legacy to the Brazilian education system.
The Creative Schools Program builds upon more than a decade of work undertaken by the Lemann Foundation to help foster high-quality public school education in Brazil. In 2017, the Foundation spearheaded the drive to establish and implement the National Learning standards in Brazil, which focused on ensuring the quality and consistency of the standards.