João Figueiró

Ashoka Fellow


This profile was prepared when João Figueiró was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in .
The New Idea
João Figueiró envisions a more peaceful and empathetic society. He feels early childhood years are the most critical to influence. Age zero to six is a critical period where children form values and develop personality traits. As a neuroscientist, João deeply understands the importance of early childhood development (ECD). He believes that not only educators and parents have a role to play in it but that every informed citizen should also play a role. He created Instituto Zero a Seis or Zero to Six Institute (ZAS) to do two things. The first goal is to get every citizen to see their role in children’s early development by raising awareness about the importance of ECD and successful initiatives around it. Secondly, it is to develop new strategies, policies, and programs.

While early childhood initiatives often take the perspective of one particular field, João integrates fields and connects all aspects of development (physical, social, emotional, etc.) to create a healthy early childhood ecosystem that uses the best ECD practices. The work is based on the most cutting-edge scientific evidence and has support of professionals from many disciplines that are directly or indirectly involved with early childcare throughout the country.

João is mapping and exposing the most successful ECD initiatives throughout the country so that people can replicate them. In order to give visibility to these practices and to the importance of early childhood development for a more peaceful society, João developed MOBI. This is a communication package that promotes content through campaigns, printed materials, a multimedia platform, SMS, TV and radio. The latter three have been promoted through partnerships with Google, TV Cultura, and a Brazilian Communication Company, respectively.

In order to create new successful initiatives that can add to this map, João also supports communities, CSOs, municipalities and companies that want to build local ECD programs and strategies. This is done through using ZAS' technical expertise and by using the mapped projects as a benchmark. He is specially engaged in projects with vulnerable communities to show that ECD can be done by anyone and with little resources. By showcasing the best practices, encouraging the creation of new ones, and in partnerships with relevant media vehicles, João intends to reach millions of Brazilians and show that they have an important role in forming future generations.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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