Brazilian government reduces scope of tech education initiatives

Entry-level technical education and international scholarships suffer as a result of budget cuts
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

The Brazilian government will reduce the number of places offered in two of its flagship education programs as a result of the country's largest budget cut in 13 years.

After the measures to slash $22.6bn in public spending for 2015 were announced, the Education Ministry said it will reduce the number of places offered in the National Program for Access to Technical Education and Employment (Pronatec), which has focused on low-income young Brazilians and has played an important role in creating entry-level skills to fill the country's existing expertise gap in the IT sector.

Pronatec was one of the cornerstones of the campaign of re-elected president Dilma Rousseff, who intended to create 12 million new jobs as a result of the skills created via the initiative.

The Ministry added that Science without Borders (SwB) - a large-scale nationwide scholarship program launched in 2011 with the goal of sending Brazilian students to top foreign universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and creative industries - will also be scaled down.

So far, SwB has granted just over 78,000 scholarships, according to the Ministry. The program was renewed last year to offer 100,000 scholarships until the end of 2018 - the initial goal was to provide 101,000 students with opportunities until the end of 2014.

It is not yet certain if the budget cuts have affected the commitment made to extend SwB. The exact number of places for both education programs going forward has not been disclosed.

Other technology-related government initiatives have also suffered as a result of the spending cut, such as a plan to equip small Brazilian cities with the tools to promote digital inclusion and provide public services online.

However, large communications projects such as the development of Brazil's broadband infrastructure and the construction of the country's own satellite have been spared from the budget reduction.

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