Governmental and Private Scholarships in Brazil

This post aims to discuss a recent experience I had. It's is directly related to the problem of governmental and private scholarships in Brazil.

Flag of Brazil

I recently had to stop working in a highly exciting project called GradeBR - Rede Galileu. I just couldn't afford it. I can explain it better.

I wrote a post in which I discuss about the job I had gotten at the Computational Transport Phenomena Laboratory located at the Aeronautics Technological Institute (ITA). I was really motivated. What I had thought for my future was happening. I had gotten a great job opportunity at one of the most prestigious academic institutions here in Brazil. I’ve been planning to go to ITA since college. I had already talked about a master’s degree project and was even flying to meet with Rede Galileu’s work group. I had the first opportunity to travel in an aircraft. Believe it or not, it’s not so usual here in Brazil. Everything was perfect. I was just missing the company of my parents of course.

I started on the job on February 11th, and for almost two months (till April 4th) I didn't receive the scholarship that had been promised. As a matter of fact, I’ve been invited by the laboratory’s lead to go to ITA as I described in this post. There is an old saying that is as follow: if Leniel will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Leniel. I think it translates well what happened to me.

The reasons for the scholarship not being granted: pure bureaucracy, corruption and disregard to the development of the Brazilian nation.

I know there are lots of sheets of paper that must be read before the final signature granting the scholarship, but in this case, it wasn't the sheets of paper. The fact is that this scholarship was not from the government but from a private company called Petrobras that is one of the major global oil & gas market players. The scholarship agreement between a private company and a federal institution is established and managed through a Research Foundation that has as its motto: foster the development of projects related to research and development (R&D).

I won’t detail what specifically happened but the reasons I wrote above serve as a start point to think about why my scholarship didn’t take place.

My case is related to a private scholarship. I know people that don’t even have the possibility of getting a scholarship granted by the government. Why that? You may ask. My answer is: actually there is almost no condition of fostering research and development in this country. Because? You may ask. My answer: things were worse, today they are getting better but we still don’t have a serious investment plan to prepare human resources and to finance research and development projects. The rules are so complex that even a PhD professor doesn’t know how to ask a scholarship for his students. There are so many embarrassments. When there’s a scholarship the value paid is incompatible with real life. They only pay you for project related material and trips. They don’t think about the expenses related to relocation, about your daily necessities. They think you’re a research and development slave. In addition, you can’t work on other projects, that is, you must be a full-time researcher receiving a part-time scholarship. Do you get it? The work you do isn’t valued as it should be.

A nation can only grow and give fruits if and only if it has a really well prepared workforce. To have such really well prepared workforce it's necessary to invest in education. Education includes all sorts of knowledge fields, not only research and development, though in this specific post I treat about it.

I particularly like the Wikipedia's definition for Education: "Education means 'to draw out', facilitating realization of self-potential and latent talents of an individual", that is, without education, great part of people can't realize their potential, their talent and consequently the nation doesn't leverage as everyone expects.

It's not surprising that this country "Brazil" has a history marked by corruption and poor education or would it be a history marked by poor education and corruption? I think the former is worst given that is poor education that leads to corruption and all sorts of maliciousness. That's why Brazil is still a underdeveloped country. People grow governed by bad politicians that even don't know how to speak their mother tongue. Again this is a case of poor education. Education was so neglected that the ones that should represent the country don't know how to speak correctly. Can you understand that? It's all a matter of education. Your brain without proper instructions (education) can't do much. It's just like a computer hardware without software. I could develop more into this subject but I won't. I think this is sufficient to pass the message.

Getting back to the main topic: I had to relocate to a different city called São José dos Campos that is 140 miles far away from my parent's home in Volta Redonda. To stay there I had (my parents had) to pay for my lodging, lunch, etc. There's no free lunch at all! Without the scholarship that was previously promised I couldn't continue on the job. So what should I do? I just had to get back home and unfortunately abandon that great project. Was that easy? Surely no.

The people governing this country think that you are a robot researcher without emotions and aspirations.

What rest to comment about it? Oh, that there isn't incentive from the government to give scholarships to the ones that really want to continue their academic studies be it through a Master's degree or even a Doctor's degree. You see, I only could finish my graduation in Computer Engineering because my parents did work hard and set aside some money for my study. That's not easy here in Brazil. The major part of families can't afford a particular college. What is the result? More people without the proper education, more people with latent talents not realizing their potential. This causes sometimes more corruption, that is, without the proper means for achieving what people really want they take another easier paths to get there.

While this story doesn't change, we'll continue to have frustrated plans. Brazil won't change its status quo up to the time that every single person has conditions to study, to acquire the so called culture what will definitely permit that their aspirations be realized.

I'd like to write better words here, but if I did I would be more one liar. For some (the richest ones) everything in Brazil is going fine. The stock market is breaking records and that's just what matter. For others (as is my case) there's no free lunch!