Cybele Oliveira

Chapada Institute for Education and Research
Year founded: 

The Chapada Institute is improving education in rural Brazil by making a range of stakeholders – students, teachers, administrators, and elected officials – accountable for education outcomes.

Focus: Education
Geographic Area of Impact: Brazil
Model: Leveraged Not-for-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 76,000
Annual Budget: US$ 2.6 million (2012)
Percent Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013

According to a 2011 government survey, approximately 15% of young Brazilians are functionally illiterate, despite having attended school. Of these youth, 2% are completely illiterate and 13% a rudimentary level of literacy. The statistics are worse when comparing public and private schools and urban and rural schools. The percentage of people aged 15 to 19 who have attained at least a number of years equivalent to primary education is 90.9% in urban areas and 70.4% in rural areas. Central to these myriad challenges facing rural education is an overall lack of accountability for improving education outcomes.

Innovation and Activities
The core of the Chapada Institute is the Chapada Project, an initiative to establish mechanisms for accountability so that parents, teachers, administrators, and elected officials would take ownership of the education system. The Chapada Project identifies partner communities and works with these communities to select a pedagogical coordinator. The coordinator serves an important role in ensuring the implementation of the Chapada Projects different components. The coordinator organizes Chapada’s monthly teacher training sessions. Teachers are required to participate in the sessions. In addition to the monthly training, teachers receive feedback and support during regular classroom visits where lessons are recorded and then analyzed. Chapada has established metrics for success that are linked to student improvement. Each semester teachers receive an evaluation based on their performance on the various metrics. The Chapada Project also offers training and evaluation for school administrators and supervisors.

The Chapada Institute recognized early on that accountability must extend to the municipal governments whose officials change regularly allowing education programs to be ignored. Chapada Project organizes multi-day public forums where teachers, parents, school administrators and community members can voice education needs and priorities. Also in attendance at the public forum are all candidates running for municipal office. At the close of the forum, participants vote on the most pressing issues, and candidates must pledge their support. Through the public forum, the community selects representatives to serve on an oversight committee. The committee is crucial to ensuring that the government follows through on its commitment to address the community’s education priorities.

The impact of the Chapada Project on students is clear: the percentage of first graders performing at grade level increased from 33% to 74%. Data also shows that 90% of first graders had achieved full literacy. In 2012, Chapada Institute trained about 4,000 teachers, impacting over 72,000 students.

The Entrepreneur
Cybele Amado de Oliveira founded the Chapada Project in 1999 and the Chapada Institute for Education and Research in 2005. She is dedicated to improving the quality of education by supporting the continuing education of educators and educational administrators. Oliveira’s studied Pedagogy at the Bahia Education Faculty and taught elementary school for six years. In the early 1990s she moved to the Chapada region of Brazil to teach and soon identified deficiencies in the education system, especially around literacy. She worked as a volunteer with students to help, but realized improvement required action from all stakeholders in students’ education: teachers, parents, administers, and community members.