THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN BRAZIL: A DEBATE

In order to develop actions that allow digital inclusion in Brazil, the government executes and supports several programs and agencies, among which will be mentioned the main ones in action and, also, a statistic about a survey that analyzes its results and the availability of each one per region and by states. Among the government programs, ProInfo, Casa Brasil, Digital Inclusion, Computer for All, Digital Station, National Observatory of Digital Inclusion, Fund for the Universalization of Telecommunications Services (FUST) and National Broadband Program (PNBL) will be highlighted.

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a) ProInfo – National Program of Informatics in Education: in action: Ministry of Education – ProInfo is developed by the Secretariat for Distance Education

(SEED), through the Department of Technological Infrastructure (DITEC), in partnership with the State and Municipal Education Secretariats. The program operates in a decentralized manner, and in each Federation Unit there is a State Coordination of ProInfo, whose main attribution is to introduce the use of information and communication technologies in schools of the public network, in addition to articulating the activities developed under its jurisdiction, in particular the actions of the Educational Technology Centers (NTEs). It is an educational program with the purpose of promoting the pedagogical use of information technology in the public basic education network.

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The program takes computers, digital resources and educational content to schools. On the other hand, States, Federal District and municipalities must guarantee the adequate structure to receive laboratories and train educators to use the machines and technologies.

b) Brazil House Program: in action: Ministry of Science and Technology, National Institute of IT, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Secom, Petrobrás, Eletrobrás / Eletronorte, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal. Implementation of multifunctional knowledge and citizenship spaces in low HDI communities, through partnerships with local institutions. Each unit of Casa Brasil will house a telecentre, using free software and at least two other modules, which may be a popular library, an auditorium, a multimedia studio, a radio production workshop, a science popularization laboratory or a computer equipment maintenance workshop, and a space for community activities, as well as a module for banking inclusion in locations where possible. Currently there are 74 units in operation, serving an average of 20 thousand people / month. More than 1,000 people have been trained in the 37 free workshops offered through the distance education platform built by the project. In total, 86 units, selected by means of public notice, will be implanted in the largest cities of the five macro-regions.

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c) Digital Inclusion Centers: in action: Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) – The implementation of Digital Inclusion Centers is an action that makes up the MCT Digital Inclusion Program. The Program is an instrument for the promotion of social inclusion, which is the responsibility of the Secretariat of Science and Technology for Social Inclusion (SECIS) and aims to provide the least favored population with access to information technologies, enabling them in practice of computational techniques, both for the improvement of professional quality and for the improvement of teaching.

d) Computer for all: in action: Presidency of the Republic, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Science and Technology and Serpro – Facing class C, allows industry and retail to offer computer and Internet access at subsidized prices, and with a specific financing line, in addition to the PIS / COFINS tax exemption. PCs of up to R $ 1,200 that obey the minimum configuration can be parceled out in installments of R $ 50. The equipment must use free software and count on a 1.4 GHz processor, 40 GB hard disk, 256 MB RAM , 15-inch monitor, floppy disk drive, CD-ROM (RW) / DVD-ROM combo, 56K modem, video cards, audio and on-board network, mouse, keyboard and USB port, and 26 programs. Notebooks up to R $ 1,800, which meet the minimum configurations described in the program portal, are also exempt from taxes and have easy financing.

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e) Digital Station Program: in action: Banco do Brasil Foundation. Always supported by a local partner, most of them non-governmental organizations, the initiative seeks to bring the computer closer to the lives of students, housewives, workers, traditional populations and cooperatives, saving time and money, creating new perspectives and improving the quality of life of the population. Since 2004, 202 units have been operating in Brazil, 41 are in the process of being installed and another 20 are approved for implementation by the end of 2008. About 56% of the units are located in the Northeast, 16% in the Midwest, 15% in the southeast, 11% in the north and 2% in the south, with the capacity to meet 500 to 1,000 people per month, and integrated with local productive arrangements.

f) National Digital Inclusion Observatory: in action: Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management and partners. It gathers information about all federal government digital inclusion programs at http://www.inclusaodigital.gov.br, with news, links, events and reference materials. Telecenters from all over the country – non-profit spaces with internet connection, free community access and training – are being registered. It is estimated that a total of 5,000 units of telecentres are operating in Brazil, articulated at the federal, state and municipal levels. ONID also works on selecting reference materials, such as guidelines, documents, manuals, studies and successful experiences, to share best practices among stakeholders. The pre-registration and mapping of the telecentres is made at http://www.onid.org.br.

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g) Telecommunication Services Universalization Fund (FUST): It was established through Law 9,998, of August 17, 2000, to finance the implementation of services of the sector especially for the most needy population. By law, the Ministry of Communications is charged with formulating policies to guide Fust applications. The National Telecommunication Agency (ANATEL) is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of projects, with priority objectives: implementation of digital information networks, including the Internet, in schools and libraries, including computers for user operation and reduction of accounts services for priority benefit to establishments frequented by the needy population; installation of high-speed networks to implement teleconferencing services between schools and libraries, among others. The Fund is composed of a monthly charge of 1% of the gross operating revenue of telecommunication service providers, after deduction of tax payments. It also receives funds from the Telecommunications Inspection Fund (Fistel), limited to R $ 700 million per year, and the price charged by Anatel for the concession or use of radiofrequency. Of the total funds, 30% should go to programs located in the regions covered by the Amazon (Sudam) and Northeast (Sudene) Development Offices, and at least 18% will be applied to education in public institutions. Care should also be given to the disabled.

h) National Broadband Program (PNBL): Its objectives are to promote digital inclusion, reduce social and regional inequalities, promote employment and income generation, expand e-government services and facilitate citizens’ use of state services , promote the training of the population for the use of information technologies and increase technological autonomy and Brazilian competitiveness. The implementation of the Brasil Conectado Program began with the publication of Decree 7,175, dated May 12, 2010, which laid the groundwork for the actions to be built and implemented collectively. The challenge of the PNBL is to translate them into concrete actions capable of promoting, directly or indirectly, the development of national infrastructure and a greater supply of the service, at lower prices.

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Therefore, to cite the programs that enhance digital inclusion in Brazil, is justified by the need to highlight them here, as knowledge and interaction of the subject, in order to demonstrate that the first steps for a country to become more globalized, are already being given. It is up to the educators to encourage and participate in these initiatives to inform the school in the computerized world.

4.2 Conceptualizing digital exclusion

In order to appropriate the understanding and reflexes that digital inclusion has generated, one must highlight the reality that digital exclusion in Brazil demonstrates, characterizing those that are not digitally included and that are outside the privileged line in the virtual world.

Digital exclusion is a concept of the theoretical fields of communication, sociology, information technology, history and other humanities, which concerns the broad strata of societies that have been left out of the phenomenon of the information society and the expansion of digital networks. It has been the subject of debate among various governmental and multilateral organizations. Digital inclusion policies include the creation of Internet access points in needy communities (favelas, slums, occupations, settlements) and training of users of digital tools (computers, DVDs, digital video, digital sound, mobile telephony). (WIKIPEDIA, 2010).

However, it should not be thought that just because these people feel the need to access the new technologies available, they will be equipped with these technologies or even know them. According to the philosopher Lévy, there must be a condition for the use of technologies:

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[…] it is not enough to stand in front of a screen, equipped with all the friendly interfaces one can think of, to overcome an inferior situation. First of all, it is necessary to be able to participate actively in the processes of collective intelligence that represent the main interest of cyberspace. (LÉVY, 1999, p.238).

Thus, it is understood that in proposing digital inclusion, it somehow needs to be planned within a pedagogical action where teachers, coordination and direction are willing to make the proposal to include their students digitally within the available media.

Figure 02 shows the map of digital exclusion in Brazil, considering Internet access, where it is possible to observe that the reality that permeates the country, is based on the fact that most Brazilians are not included digitally.

What is the difference in the use of technologies in public and private schools?

When you think of a school with a futuristic vision, the idea comes that technological tools, in a homogeneous way, replace the notebook and pencil. In fact, this does not happen.

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In most public schools, one can observe the situation of computer labs which, unfortunately, is precarious, and when they are used in class by teachers, they become very superficial. This is due to the lack of preparation of some teachers to use the technologies, the small number of computers available and working, the lack of professionals in the area prepared to help teachers and also the lack of involvement of all. However, in some places in Brazil, the use of this technological resource in public schools has generated a good result. An example of this is the UCA3 Project (One Computer per Student), which provides for changes in pedagogical actions, which since 2005 has investigated the possibility of adopting educational infant computers as a means of raising the quality of Brazilian public education. As it is known, this project proposes the digital inclusion by the use of computers also by the student’s family at home.

The Brazilian government plans to set up computer labs in all of Brazil’s 130,000 public education institutions, a project valued at 650 million reais. The first schools will be the high schools and then the municipal schools, all of which must have at least one computer lab.

In private schools it is noted that the situation is different. There is more commitment from the people involved, from prepared teachers to less material bureaucracy. However, it is not uncommon to find computer labs in public schools better than those in private schools. This is due to the fact that in the public network the funds are bigger and the requirement of more qualified professionals as well.

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Therefore, reference can be made to the fact that, in private schools, digital inclusion is basically carried out based on easy access to available resources. Already in public school, despite the government’s incentive to make the technology available, it has not really been functionally appropriated by students and teachers.

5 DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS OF QUESTIONNAIRES AND RESEARCH DATA

In order to analyze the use of technologies by students and teachers and the insertion of ICT in school, based on digital inclusion, a field survey was conducted through questionnaires delivered to students and teachers of a state school of high school of the municipality of Lagoa Vermelha and, also, to two professors specialists in the area of ​​informatics in the education. Each questionnaire was defined based on the work proposal.

Initially, a questionnaire was developed for the students, where the content of the questions was to investigate if they were actually in contact with the ICT and if access to them was facilitated, analyzing facts such as: the availability of computers at home and at school, what technologies they had access to and, above all, to highlight their importance.

Secondly, the research focused on the teachers of the same school, being questioned teachers of various disciplines, including mathematics, in order to focus the use of technologies in several areas, aiming to know the structure for the use of computers in school, what was the teachers’ interest in using them in their classes and the methodology used to use them.

To improve the research, we also sought the opinion of two teachers in the area of ​​educational computing, to provide an overview of how digital inclusion can generate in education the change in teaching as expected and what are the perspectives and conceptions about it .

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With the script of the schematic research, the questionnaires were delivered to the interested parties, who promptly returned the answers. After receiving the same, by e-mail and written sheet, the data obtained were analyzed and presented below, seeking to describe the educational scenario in which the digital inclusion is identified.

The form chosen for the presentation and analysis of the results was through graphs of the main questions of the students, illustrating the conclusions in the form of tables for the comparison of the answers of the state teachers and analysis of each question of the teachers of the area.