The Undergraduate Degree in Rural Education was implemented in Brazil in 2006. Today, more than forty federal universities across the country offer the degree.
In the field of Rural Education, it is understood that people who live in the countryside have the right to a school program that allows, in conjunction with the specifics of the countryside, the appropriation of historically produced knowledge. In other words, citizens not only have the right to be educated where they live – in the countryside; but also to be able to access an education designed for that place – the countryside, with the participation of those who live in it, linked to its culture and its human and social needs.
In this case, education does include the school institution, but is not restricted to it. School is seen as a priority in the strategy to guarantee the right of rural peoples to have access to Basic Education.
The rural population includes “small family farmers, extractivists, artisanal fishermen, riverside dwellers, land reform settlers and campers, rural wage workers, forest peoples, quilombolas, caiçaras, caboclos, and others who produce their material conditions of existence from work in rural areas” (BRASIL, 2010).
At UFSC, the Undergratuate Program in Rural Education was created in May 2008, integrating the activities of the Rural Education and Sustainable Territorial Development Institute (EDUCAMPO Institute) at the School of Education (CED). Since its inception, the program has formed partnerships with organizations and social movements in the countryside of the State of Santa Catarina.
The field of work for graduates is Rural Education teaching in the area of Natural Sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Biology) and Mathematics, particularly in rural secondary schools. According to article 1(II) of the Decree 7.352/2010, rural schools are “those located in rural areas, as defined by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics – IBGE, or those located in urban areas, provided that they predominantly serve rural populations” (BRASIL, 2010). Thus, graduates can work in regular education settings, in schools offering vocational education (agricultural or similar), and in other educational spaces such as Family Training Centers by Alternation, Rural Family Homes or Agricultural Family Schools.
The program is offered on-campus, lasting 4 years (8 semesters), and it has as a principle the Pedagogy of Alternation, meaning that it is organized into a Community Time (CT) and a University Time (UT). During the UT period, students participate in curricular activities at the university, and, in the CT period, they develop activities in their communities, e.g. diagnostic activities, approximation with the school, teaching internships, or community projects for school-community integration, according to the stage of program. The aim of this unified educational process is to combine the student’s work and life experience within the community/municipality where they live with the experience of tertiary education they are attaining. In the first year of the program, the activities have as an “integrating axis”, both at the UT and at the CT, the investigation of the local reality. In the second year, the focus turns to the study of the rural school. In the last two years of the program, the CT consists of supervised internships in rural schools, so that the student can perform teaching activities in lower and upper secondary education in the area of Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) and Mathematics.
The training of Rural Education teachers seeks to provide access to knowledge in the area of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, also taking into consideration the study of the elements that make up the memory, knowledge, values, customs, and social and productive practices of rural and family farming subjects. In addition, it seeks to promote the analysis of the sociocultural and environmental characteristics of the students’ life territory so that they understand, in their complexity, the existing conflicts and contradictions. This training also presupposes the development of a theoretical-practical capacity to think-organize-make a rural basic school that establishes a critical-creative education, committed to the principles of building alternatives for social sustainability in rural territories.
Note: this program requires a separate entrance examination. Visit the program’s website for information on the application deadlines and procedures.