By Monica Pereira dos Santos, University of Rio de Janeiro
When and how has the Index been translated and adapted?
The first translation of the Index into Portuguese for Brazil was of the second edition for schools (2002). I completed it in 2006. I had been involved with the materials from the first edition of the Index before it was first published and used some of the indicators and questions with teachers before the first full translation. I completed a translation of the third edition in 2012.
How has the Index been disseminated?
The Index has been disseminated through LaPEADE (Research Laboratory for Studies and Support for Participation and Diversity in Education) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. We have delivered courses on the use of the Index and we worked with it in research projects. I have also talked about it in interviews for newspapers, radio and television. We hope to disseminate the latest edition more widely across Brazil by linking up with other centres in Universidade Metodista de Bauru and the Federal University of Alagoas, Brazilian Local Education Authorities as well as state universities in Cordoba and Seville (Spain), Cabo Verde (Africa), Portugal and Chile.
How has the Index been used in Brazil
Whenever we have introduced the Index in schools it has never failed to promote discussion and reflection by school staff and others about values, policies and practices. In some schools where there is more reluctance to engage in deep reflection it is used to initiate ideas for planning aspects of school development without starting a process that might lead to more fundamental transformation. But it encourages change in most schools where it is used in such areas as approaches to leadership; improvement of participation from students, parents and ancillary staff; development of new school policies; empowerment of staff to negotiate with the municipality and so on.
Over a three year project working with the Index in a large secondary state school in Rio de Janeiro, with some 4,000 students and 200 teaching staff, the school identified as some of the priority barriers:
- their lack of interdepartmental communication or miscommunication practices
- the high level of bullying towards disabled students
- the lack of motivation of teachers and management to work under the political conditions of a low paid and excessively bureaucratic and accountability-prone (controlling) job.
As a result of the work with the Index, the school managed to:
- create an internal Newsweek Bulletin in order the enhance their communications
- promote several collective actions involving the students in organizing and discussing various themes related to bullying such as respect and self-respect, violence, inclusion/exclusion and bullying itself, which resulted in a poetry book about inclusion written by the students
- adhesion to a strike movement to sort out working conditions.
After two years developing the Index in a small state school in Rio de Janeiro, the staff decided it was time to review their mission statement and pedagogic project. This is a school with only 500 students, and although its student population come from underprivileged classes, the school is located in a rich area of the city and its staff is middle-class, with quite different values from the student population. The Index process made them realize the existence of these different values and wish to review their own major curricular and administrative institutional policies. In the process, the staff moved from an individualistic and poorly collaborative approach to a more collective and supportive one, sharing tasks and responsibilities in order to reach their Mission Statement Revision goal.
In three out of five schools where we worked with the Index, so far, one of the typical effects of the Index development is a point in which a power relations crisis emerges, with the role of the head teachers and other powerful staff being questioned and re-signified. This has been accomplished to varying extents through many discussions including about group dynamics, which helped the staff to review their own level of participation and the administrative procedures of the school.
Reports and articles can be viewed and downloaded at: www.lapeade.com.br
Connections with other values-based initiatives in Brazil
I believe the most exciting discovery in using the Index is the understanding that it can be implemented in any type of institution. As an example, we are currently running an Index development project with and at the Revenue Income Tax Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro. They have a School for Civil Servants of municipalities who are responsible for the public expenditure and accounts of those localities. So, we’re developing and adapting the Index in the School, educating the educators of the municipalities to in turn educate the municipalities’ civil servants who will be doing the accountancy orientation work with local industry and commerce. Another example is to develop the Index in the Administration level of the Secretary of Education, with senior staff participating.
Challenges in using the Index
There are times when schools have been dominated by new top-down policies which has meant that the Index process has been superseded by different and sometimes incompatible concerns. The adaptation of the Index into different contexts other than schools also promotes some exciting challenges as it makes all people involved in the process both think about the reality of the schools and reflect on their own different reality.
Future plans for work with the Index
This year, we’ve finally managed to link with two other universities in Brazil and will be meeting soon to talk about developing common projects. I have also founded an International Group of Researchers of Inclusion in Education with all the universities mentioned above and some four different Local Education Authorities in Brazil, with a view to develop projects based on the Index, among other things.
Reports about the Index
Further information about the use of the Index can be found on: www.lapeade.com.br The website contains a full list of references in Portuguese.
Who should I contact?
Monica Pereira dos Santos, Universityof Rio de Janeiro: email@example.com