From Stadiums to Schools: Education in the 2014 Brazil World Cup

The run-up to a big sporting bonanza like the World Cup or the Olympics often sees great controversy over the costs, timings and efficiency of the required infrastructure – and Brazil 2014 has been no exception.

But now, in a clever move to try and spread the benefits of FIFA’s flagship competition to as many locals as possible, the leftover building materials from one stadium will be used to build new school buildings.

The World Cup Schools project (Escolas da Copa), recently announced to begin in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, will seek to enhance the legacy of the competition through an innovative plan to build 22 new schools in the area.

The project will make use of over 2,000 tonnes of left over metal from the construction of Brasilia’s newest sporting venue – Mané Garrincha Stadium – to cut construction costs by up to 40 percent. When built, the new schools are expected to offer a significantly better learning environment for approximately 13,000 children.

Planning for world football’s biggest event, which is expected to bring over half a million visitors to Brazil in just over six months, has not been easy. The estimated cost of preparing for the World Cup has already surpassed US $12 billion and brought many to question the legacy that will be left behind once the players and spectators head home.

Over the last few months protests have sprung up throughout the country, with Brazilians demanding that basic services like health and education are not entirely neglected as the government pushes to complete new stadia and transport links.

Education has indeed been lacking in Brazil – the country is yet to reach its MDG goal of universal primary education, with more than half a million children (2% of 7 – 14 year-olds) not going to school, and repetition rates that show over 3.5 million primary students to be in grades lower than the recommendation for their age.

World Cup Schools is a project that is intended to address the people’s demand for better education provision – the project hopes to place the construction of new schools alongside the stadiums, airports and roads that will define the legacy of the World Cup.  For Brazil’s Minister of Education, Marcelo Aguiar, World Cup Schools is “another asset to the legacy of a 2014 World Cup that will also leave its mark on the education sector”.

In addition to the construction of new schools the project will also institute a full day of learning with a minimum of seven hours in the newly built institutions. Extending the school day has been a central aspect of Brazil’s future National Education Plan, which is yet to be ratified after years of deliberation in the Congress. The plan also seeks to increase government spending on education to 10% of GDP, from 5.8% in 2010.

With only half a year to go until the World Cup kicks off it is important to remember that it is still not too late to direct the attention generated by the momentous event towards improving the lives of those who need it most.

By providing new classrooms and better facilities, World Cup Schools will bring much needed improvement to the learning environment of children who often attend schools that are overcrowded, unventilated and lacking in supplies.

Thousands of other children throughout Brazil, however, will remain in the same conditions long after the World Cup has passed. The time to find other innovative ways to expand the benefits of the multi-billion dollar event to touch down in Brazil in a matter of months is now!