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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.

 

Story 1

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:

  1. their lack of interdepartmental communication or miscommunication practices
  2. the high level of bullying towards disabled students 
  3. 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:

  1. create an internal Newsweek Bulletin in order the enhance their communications
  2. 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
  3. adhesion to a strike movement to sort out working conditions.

 

Story 2

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.

 

Story 3

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.

 

Story 4

Using the Index for Inclusion in a ‘Government School’.

‘Government schools’ are public colleges that promote the professional development of civil servants. Those Schools aim specifically at training and improving public or civil servants so that they offer an updated and appropriate service to the diverse and growing demands of the society as a whole. By taking different courses in these schools those servants have the chance of developing their professional skills therefore resulting both in an upgrade in their careers and a better service to the citizens. 

The Government Schools were established in Brazil in 1998, by means of a Constitutional Amendment in order to ratify, guarantee and systematize the implementation of the Constitutional principles regarding public administration: the principles of legality, impersonality, morality, publicity and efficiency.

The School of Accounts and Management (ECG) of the Court of Auditors of the State of Rio de Janeiro (TCE-RJ) is one of these schools, and is the focus of this story. The Court of Auditors is a technical organ prescribed by the Brazilian Constitution to inspect and control the expenditure of public money in the three administrative levels: the Federal, the State and the Municipality.

In 2016 the ECG went through a process of self-revision of its institutional values in order to minimize the barriers to access, staff continuity and to learning in the School. This followed an agreement signed in 2013 with the Laboratory of Research, Studies and Support for Participation and for Diversity in Education (LaPEADE), in the Faculty of Education, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (FE/UFRJ). As suggested in the Index for Inclusion, the participants set out to create a Coordinating Group, with the help of the LaPEADE team, and drew on indicators from across the Index for Inclusion to support the development process. We adapted the Indicators Questionnaire to the specific context[1] and discussed them with the Coordinating Group to start the process of self-revision. The findings to the questionnaire revealed that issues like “hierarchy” and “valuing each other” should be prioritized at that moment, and tackled by the institution. This culminated in a consultation with the staff community in order to answer the question: ‘How can we make every member of staff feel equally valued? Answers to this consultation and subsequent reflection, promoted by the Coordinating Group, led to an Action Plan to be implemented for the ECG in 2017.

Two types of actions were proposed. The first referred to responses to demands, suggestions and complaints that emerged from the consultation. A central focus of criticisms related to a ‘lack of internal communication’. To improve communication, they worked out a specific action plan by which the Coordinating Group categorized the answers given to the questions into larger themes and posted them in all the communication channels within the ECG, creating monthly meetings so as to analyze the main demands received, debate ways of providing for them, and make them public to the ECG community.

The second action in the plan was meant to have immediate impact. It focused on the insertion of the ‘social name’ in the ECG Academic System. The social name is a designation different from a given name at birth, chosen by a transvestite or a transsexual person to identify him- or herself and is socially recognized. In Brazil its use has been made mandatory.

After reading, comparing and reflecting upon the values contained in the Institutional Development Plan (PDI)[2], in the Strategic Plan (PE)[3] and in the Index for Inclusion during this process of self-revision, key values headings in the 2016-2019 PDI version were defined, such as: “sustainability”, “inclusion”, “effectiveness” and “transparency”[4].

Two of these values were taken from the Index and redefined by the Coordinating Group as the discussions took place. The first one was ‘Sustainability’. Its final definition was built (besides the Index) on the basis of the ECG being a place where ecological cultures, policies and practices converge, and where informative campaigns are created in the attempt of develop sustainable habits in the State of Rio-de-Janeiro.

The second was “Inclusion”, and its final definition (also inspired by the Index) encompassed the concepts of equality, respect and participation. In practice, this definition implied in a general agreement that the Institution would, from then on, make all efforts to take every and each person into consideration in their daily relationships and actions (that is, to think about people who will suffer the impacts of actions and policies before making decisions); to minimize negative effects of hierarchical relations and promote a more democratic power balance; and to create new and improve existing participatory institutional processes (such as generating more consultation mechanisms, providing more freedom of expression opportunities, and so on).

Thus, we believe that through the discussion of the Index for Inclusion indicators the LaPEADE team was able to help the ECG to reflect upon its cultures, policies and practices as well as to put inclusive values in action, contributing to the removal of barriers to learning and participation in the institution.

 

 

[1] Some words contained in the Index for Inclusion were modified to fit a school for adults. ‘Clerks’ or ‘civil servants’ replaced ‘children’ and ‘parents’ and ‘school’ was sometimes replaced by ‘institution’. 

[2] It´s the acronym in Portuguese for the Institutional Development Plan. This is a document that sets the guidelines mainly the pedagogical ones to be followed by the school. It is renewed  or updated every two years.      

[3]   It´s the acronym in Portuguese for the Strategic Plan which is the main document of the Court of Accounts that rules its actions and orients the building of the PDI.

[4] Transparency is a principle adopted by our Federal governments since the 1988 Constitution. It refers to making public (and available to the citizens via government sites, newspapers and any other media) all governmental decisions about economic, political and social aspects of Brazilian society.

 

Story 5

LAGO, Mara. Index for Inclusion: a possibility of institutional intervention. 2014. Thesis (Doctorate on Education). College of Education, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 2014.

I developed my thesis based on the development of the propositions contained in the Index for Inclusion (BOOTH & AINSCOW, 2002) in order to check the feasibility of its use as a tool of analysis and promotion of inclusion in a Secondary State School of Basic Education in the City of Rio de Janeiro.

The first great challenge was to gather a coordinating group with representative members of all the segments of the school for several reasons that were either due to the busy routine of the school, or due to personal and collective resistances. Despite the difficulties, we met people, we heard them, we set relationships that propitiated events permeated by inclusive values. This happened over a two years period, in which we were able to work through the values of the Index.

Those people were able to share different ways of doing and relating with one another, and this surely had consequences. Although we do not have control over these effects, we believe that they contribute to the opening of possibilities and to the experimentation of what was unprecedented regarding school diversity. More than finding solutions to the problems, we could see that they were affected by the relations that are established during the attempts of problem-solving, causing people to exercise a sensitive listening, a welcoming look, an effective interchange, a solidarity gesture. We believe that this exercise allowed us to move the interweaving among the cultures, the policies and the practices towards inclusion, setting up as an institutional intervention.

The work with the Index enabled us to have a glimpse of the variety of inclusive and exclusionary elements forged in the relationships that were established during the research, revealing the complexity of an environment loaded with contradictions but that contains the necessary opening to continue in transformation.

One of the consequences of the work with the coordinating group was the creation of the “writers’ club” by a Literature teacher with a group of students, in which they researched the inclusion/exclusion relationships over a period of 5 months and were requested to write in a narrative or poetic style about what they were discovering. This work was supervised by the teacher on a weekly basis, during her class with them. This was an extremely inspiring experience, an orchestration of an inclusive practice. We had the opportunity to follow the group and perceive the engagement, the commitment and the maturity with which the students gathered together, discussed and shared their texts and feelings supported and directed by a teacher whom everybody treated with admiration. Her teaching practice inspired them to follow the track of knowledge and how much her look made them see themselves as students capable of even becoming writers.

The project culmination took place with the edition of a book that represented the possibility of creation and advance of a group that is capable of constructing when it gets together with common goals, which are engaged in an ideal of participation and open to diversity. The students’ texts represent their thoughts and experiences lived in this school and express the culture in which they are inserted. In many moments, they expressed situations of inclusion and exclusion that could be shared by those who lived in that context.

By means of this research experience we concluded that the Index is an extremely fruitful tool to help schools in a revision process. It provides the necessary support to promote the reflection about the processes of inclusion and exclusion, as well as it points out ways and suggestions on how to proceed. Moreover, it presents great flexibility of adequacy to the contexts in which it is developed. 

Story 6

Reducing the demands on the administration: leaving the “Ipiranga Petrol Station” behind.

During development work with the management staff of the Education Section in an LEA in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, the Coordinating Group reflected upon their daily actions and how interruptions, external and other demands which fell outside their responsibilities prevented them from reaching their aims and, many times deviated the focus of the important pedagogic tasks they should perform with schools. Among many reflections, a member of the team pointed out that the LEA was just like the “Ipiranga Petrol Station”.

The idea of the “Ipiranga Petrol Station” originates from a TV commercial about a chain of gas stations named Ipiranga. In the advert, drivers who are on the road, travelling on business or leisure, stop by a countryside man, a character played by the same actor in all the adverts. People stop to ask for information on a variety of things, like where they can find food, fuel, tickets for concerts, medicines… The answer given by the countryside man is always the same: “You can find it there, at Ipiranga Petrol Station” – and points to a place that seems to be just around the curve.

In a parallel to the TV advert, the LEA staff, while reflecting on their own work with the help of the indicators, referred to themselves as being the Ipiranga Petrol Station, meaning a team that does everything for everyone, and upon whom the responsibilities for just about anything fall.

This expression was first used when the group was writing up a plan to act on the changes they would like to see in their own practice. In this meeting, the indicator being reflected upon was A.2.10. which had been adapted as: Does the Management of the Education Section contribute to the health of its schools’ communities? Within this indicator, the question that led to the reflection was: Are barriers to the health of their schools’ communities identified by the Education Management Section? In their answers, they pointed out that there were projects being developed that were dealing with this aspect, and mentioned the PSE (Programme Health in Schools) as an example. However, they also pointed out that in order to strengthen and expand the programme they would need to expand their staff as well, since that with the few number of staff available and the amount of demands they needed to meet (as if they were the Ipiranga Petrol Station), their actions frequently lost their primary focus. In many ways, according to them, they felt as if they were ambulance paramedics, who needed to focus on emergency situations, leaving aside the less urgent ones.

In another moment of the use of the Index with them, while reflecting upon the indicator C.2.5 (also adapted to their context): Do the education Management Section staff learn with and from one another?, and within this indicator, the question Do the Education Management Section staff share the responsibility to help and overcome barriers to learning and participation?, the team considered that as much as they had a collaborative work climate, the many demands that came up ended up getting in the way of their actions. This led them to a painful learning experience. According to them, in practice the demands were like “fires” that needed to be controlled and put out. As a result, they decided that they needed to prevent the “fires”, rather than fix them once they had started.

Eventually, the team came to conclude that they did not wish to be like the Ipiranga Petrol Station. In other words, their image of being a sphere that solves everything, including the problems of other sectors, overwhelms them and compromise the quality, aims and responsibilities of their own work.

In this way, the Index indicators helped this team to understand their own work and job descriptions, to organize their demands by establishing prioritization procedures and attempting to change their cultures, policies and practices in the sense of promoting a more receptive and participative administration, in which internal and external members are welcome and feel good about working with this team.

 

Story 7 

New history of the INDEX from Queimados   

In November 2014, the Municipality of Queimados/Rio de Janeiro State (RJ), after establishing a partnership with the Rio de Janeiro Special Education Observatory (OEERJ) enrolled 13 professionals of the Municipal network to take part in the Course named  Teachers’ Training for the Inclusion of the target people of the Special Education: reflecting, planning and acting, along the year of 2015.

At the same time, having the Extension Course offered by the OEERJ as a  starting point, the participants in Queimados ellaborated and implemented an unfolding of this course in their municipality. This was done by undertaking a continuous training for professionals in the Queimados educational network in order to provide  a discussion about and a perception of the actions of inclusion in their schools. It was therefore a mutually formative investigation (both for the researchers and the participants) in which the data were originated during the implementation of an homonimous continuous training course. This course took 50 hours of which 20 were taken presentially and 30 by means of complementary experiential avtivities[1] aiming at the development of approximation strategies between the regular class teachers and those of the Special Education

There were 5 four hour presential meetings (total of 20 hours) from August to December 2015. The professionals from the Queimados Municipal network participated in the meetings during their working hours (either morning or afternoon). In addition to this, 30 hours of complementary experiential avtivities were included, adding up to 50 hours.

During the presential meetings, we presented the proposal for the use of the Index for Inclusion, approaching the indicators related to the topics “atitudinal barriers” and “architectural barriers”. As an experiential activity we proposed activities to be performed in the schools where the participant teachers worked by means of the three Questionnaires contained in the Index. They used Questionnaire 1 (Indicators) with the teachers and the other school professionals; Questionnaire 2 (The school of my son) with the students’ parents or their Legal Representatives and the Questionnaire 3 (My school) with the students. In the end we requested that the participants gathered together in their school groups in order to make the Planning Structure suggested in the Index. The results are shown further in the text.

The organization and the development of the activities were under the responsibility of the Student´s Support Coordination, in partnership with the Continuous Training Coordination, the Elementary Education Coordination and the Special Education.

 Those who participated in the meetings were: regular class teachers of the 4th and 5th grades (125), The Resources Class teachers (19) and those professionals who assist the students with special needs (64) adding up to 208 professionals. There was an average of 105 participants in each part of the day.

It was a rich experience in which we could observe the good understanding and communication among the teachers and all the other professionals and we could also start a diagnosis about inclusion in education in the schools of the Queimados municipality. We think that the production of this material can contribute for the construction, the implantation and the implementation of institutional actions and policies of annual planning in the schools of the municipal network.

 

[1] Suggested activities to be developed during the experience of the professional in his or her daily practice. The participants produce reports about the actvities so that we can follow their development and/or their improvement as well as the transformations that occurred through their implementation. 

 

 

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: monicapes@gmail.com

 

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