Regina Cabral

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2010
ONG Formação - Centro de Apoio à Educação Básica


This profile was prepared when Regina Cabral was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
High school education in Brazil, for the most part, fails to prepare youth for university and the professional world. Regina is addressing this issue by transforming the way public education is delivered, starting in one of Brazil’s most underserved states: Maranhão. The basis of her work entails the integration of three goals: The development of entrepreneurial abilities at a young age, the promotion of citizenship, and the enhancement of local development through teaching, research, practical experiences, and student-led community projects.

Before establishing her Centers of High School Education and Professionalization (CEMPs, by its Portuguese acronym) Regina undertook a study on the state of high school and professional education in Maranhão. The study was financed by UNICEF and gave her the opportunity to analyze hard data and most importantly, to learn from youth about their needs and desires relating to education. The CEMPs emerged from the realization that youth education needed to be closely linked to the working world and local development for it to become relevant and impactful.

The model is firmly based on the idea that, even in precarious situations, youth can develop the necessary critical thinking skills to become agents of change and create community-led solutions. The new school curriculum developed through CEMPs trains educators in new and improved teaching methods and allows students to gain both knowledge and skills through a combination of ”traditional” classes and the development community projects supported by Formação, Regina’s organization. These projects do not simply serve the purpose of enhancing young peoples own development, but are designed to also contribute to the economic development of the region. Regina has already created seven CEMPs and more than 1,000 youth have graduated from this new high school model. Her approach holds promise for the country as a whole, as it is integrated within the public education system and enjoys great support from the citizen sector, the Ministry of Education, and UNESCO—an intricate part of her national spread strategy.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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