Sueli Camargo De Mattos
This profile was prepared when Sueli Camargo De Mattos was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Sueli Camargo founded the Future Village Project, which aims to provide professional training to teenagers, beyond the vocational courses which focus on a specific skill set aimed at a certain industry or segment of the labor market. Her courses focus on the underlying knowledge base and broader analytical and critical thinking skills that cut across disciplines or particular employment opportunities. Sueli's idea evolved as she noticed that the objectives of most professional training courses were restricted to training for certain professions without relation to a more widespread concept of education and practical skills. She therefore designed a program to attack youth unemployment with four different emphases: technical formation, stimulation of logical thinking, awareness of one's behavior, and co-responsibility within the community.Started in 1995, the Future Village reaches 300 pupils a year from the 41 slums that form the neighborhood of Americanópolis in São Paulo, Brazil. Working with young people, most of whom have not completed elementary school and yet are on the verge of entering the job market for the first time, Sueli also addresses the intangible elements crucial to success in the job market, such as regular attendance, punctuality, responsibility, integrity, efficiency, initiative, and proper relations with superiors and colleagues at work. These qualities are often not part of the culture of people living in marginalized settings, but their absence only compounds the difficulties involved in searching for work, let alone operating effectively in a job. Sueli has also developed strategies and partnerships with local businesses to ensure that her students' new skills are tested in the labor market.