Tech Roundup Jun. 26, 2020 | WhatsApp is Brazil’s new education gamble

. Jun 26, 2020
WhatsApp is Brazil’s new education gamble

You’re reading The Brazilian Report’s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: Using WhatsApp for education. Facebook getting ahead of Congress when it comes to fake news policies. And more.

Brazil attempts to bridge education gap with WhatsApp 

As the pandemic widens the tech gap in Brazilian education,

one platform decided to resort to popular app WhatsApp Messenger to reach the most vulnerable share of Brazilian students. Aprendizap, a tool created by Fundação 1Bi alongside Fundação Lemann, offers content for middle and high school students for free, in a chat format.</p> <p><strong>How does it work? </strong>Aprendizap arose as an emergency solution to provide children with learning material during the pandemic, says Débora Nunes, product and solutions analyst at Fundação 1Bi. The idea is for the content to be “digestible” for students without access to the assistance of teachers, and it should be made accessible to the highest number of children possible.  </p> <ul> <li>The content is based on the<a href=""> national curriculum</a>. </li> <li>Students may study at their own pace: either doing one class per day or downloading the content provided for the week all at once. By the end of ten classes, they receive the answers to their exercises. </li> <li>Users may receive content from different grades through the same phone number, helping families with more than one child of school age. </li> </ul> <p><strong>Why WhatsApp?</strong> Widespread in Brazil, access to WhatsApp is often offered for free by telecom operators, making it the easiest way to reach the most vulnerable children, explained Ms. Nunes. “Any product focused on public education must have the student as a protagonist, so there is no point in using AI while not attending the needs of the families”, she told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>.   </p> <p><strong>Is it working? </strong>Since April, 107,000 Brazilian students have been hooked on the platform. On average, 60 percent of those who start classes finish the week of study, but the number has already gone as high as 71 percent. More importantly, the biggest prevalence of students is in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil, where access to the latest technology is often spotty.  </p> <p><strong>Next steps.</strong> According to Ms. Nunes, Aprendizap aims to become a kind of “digital playbook” for teachers, providing them with content so they may concentrate on interacting with students. Currently, they can receive materials via their email inbox, but Aprendizap is working on a digital channel for teachers to share content directly to their students. Negotiations are ongoing for the platform to be adopted by local education departments, says Ms. Nunes.  </p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>The use of digital tools for schooling during the pandemic has been heavily criticized due to the <a href="">inequality in Brazil</a>, meaning a significant number of students are left without access. But the rise of more easily available tools may help cushion the transition. </p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2>Facebook gets ahead of Fake News Law and changes political advertising rules</h2> <p>While the Brazilian Senate analyzed a law to curb the spreading of misinformation online — ahead of this year&#8217;s municipal elections — Facebook announced that all political advertising must be tagged as such on both Facebook and Instagram from August onward. </p> <p><strong>How is it going to work? </strong>The feature is already available as an option, but as of August all ads must be tagged as &#8216;electoral advertising&#8217; or &#8216;paid for by,&#8217; in order to gain approval.  The social media company said the feature will be available even after the elections take place.  </p> <p><strong>Transparency measures. </strong>Advertisers must prove they live in Brazil and provide identification with a phone number, email address, and a website. They must also provide their individual or corporate tax IDs (CPF or CNPJ). These measures are included in the so-called &#8216;fake news bill&#8217; in Congress, but have been brought into question by privacy activists who see it as “shredding the presumption of innocence”, as we <a href="">explained</a> this week.</p> <p><strong>Self-regulation.</strong> Even though Facebook, as well as social media companies, have called the Fake News Law “a threat to privacy,” it is already complying with some of the ideas presented by the bill. If approved, the proposal in Congress also foresees the creation of a self-regulating council of social media companies. </p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>As Covid-19 demands social isolation, Brazil is about to have its most <a href="">digital election campaign</a> in history, and social media has been proven in the past to be fertile ground for misinformation. Even if the bill is not approved, controls over the spreading of fake news will remain the subject of debate, especially considering a Supreme Court investigation into far-right lawmakers and digital influencers supporting President Jair Bolsonaro. </p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2>Take note</h2> <ul> <li>After having its new payments system <a href="">blocked</a> by the Brazilian Central Bank, WhatsApp announced it will work with local authorities to <a href="">establish the service again</a> as soon as possible. It also aims to join PIX, the instant payment system set to be launched in November by the Central Bank.   </li> <li><strong>Investments.</strong> Adtech Chili Gum <a href="">fundraised</a> BRL 2 million in a new round led by GVAngels and BR Angels Smart Network. The startup automatizes the creation of ads, especially videos, producing content in scale based on pre-formulated templates and info provided by clients — which include companies such as retailer Magazine Luiza and brewer Ambev. The money will be used to find channels to acquire new customers, expand the team, and develop the technology.   </li> <li><strong>AI.</strong> A <a href="">report</a> by Agência Pública says education company Laureate, which manages some of the biggest universities in Brazil — such as University Anhembi Morumbi and FMU — is using AI technology to correct online essays without warning students. Professors considered it detrimental to students’ learning, while the Education Ministry demands that students are informed on any changes in the methodologies and evaluations. Laureate replied that it uses technology in accordance with the current legislation. </li> <li><strong>Aid. </strong>The Managing Committee for the Audiovisual Sectoral Fund approved measures to <a href="">support up to 400,000 workers</a> amid the pandemic, including BRL 400 million in emergency credit lines and postponing payments of current loans. However, the sector has been asking for help for some time, with film production at a standstill since March. On June 4, Congress approved the Aldir Blanc Law, directing BRL 3 billion in aid for culture, but it still awaits <a href="">President Jair Bolsonaro’s signature.</a>    </li> <li>The Ministry of Science and Technology launched a BRL 50 million public tender to support local companies working in products to boost “4.0 development” in Brazil’s industry, agribusiness, smart cities, and health. Proposals shall use technologies such as 5G, IoT, AI, advanced robotics, cloud computing and must be submitted until July 30 via this <a href="">website</a>.

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Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Before joining The Brazilian Report, she worked as an editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

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