There is a direct relationship between the socioeconomic and cultural profiles of families and the academic performance of their children. Children and young persons from more disadvantaged households face greater difficulties in their educational development and, despite initiatives such as the distribution of computers and the home study #Estudoemcasa program, with the Gulbenkian Foundation participating in both projects, the pandemic driven confinement has only served to worsen this reality.
Between March and June of 2020, these children and young persons were not only deprived of the in-person teaching that they so much need but also experienced a deepening of the academic inequalities inherent due to the difficulties in undertaking distance learning.
Hence, this provides the background to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation launching the GAP – Gulbenkian Learning project, an initiative that seeks to ensure support to at least 5,000 students across the primary and secondary schools systems within the scope of recovering the learning lost in three subject areas: Portuguese, English and Mathematics as well as developing important competences for autonomous self-study.
Support to students from around 120 schools across these three subjects shall be provided through Academic Mentorships. An innovative system in Portugal, these mentorships take place either on an individual basis, in small groups or in the classroom (during curricular time, face-to-face or online) run by a pool of 30 to 60 mentors from the “Teach For Portugal” Association in cooperation with the Portuguese Association of English Teachers, the SPM – the Portuguese Mathematics Society and the Universities of Oporto and Minho. This forecasts the provision of around one thousand hours of mentoring weekly between January and June 2021.
In addition to the mentoring, the SPM is to carry out Mathematics Classes for a set of terms across these schools that, due to the consequences of the ongoing pandemic, lack a teacher for this subject. These Mathematics Classes, taught by a pool of volunteer teachers established by the SPM, are to begin (whether virtually or in-person) in December.
Both for the Mentorships and the Mathematics Classes, the GAP–Gulbenkian Learning Project receives the support of the Ministry of Education.