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Canadian colleges’ education project expanded by Brazilian government

March 15, 2011 — Canadian college representatives will be fêted this week for their contributions to an education project for Brazilian women. And as a testimony to its success, the final review of the project will be immediately followed by the launch of an expanded national program for life-skills education by the Brazilian government.

“Canadian colleges have been leaders in providing education for marginalized populations such as immigrants and Aboriginal learners,” says ACCC CEO James Knight who will participate in the final meeting of project participants in Natal city in northern Brazil Thursday. “When the Brazilian ministry of education wanted to offer education programs to poor women in Brazil, Canadian colleges were identified as ideal partners.”

Canada’s methods of assessing and recognizing “prior learning” and giving credit for work experience or volunteer and non-academic achievements was a central element of the project design. Some twelve Brazilian technological institutes partnered with seven Canadian colleges to develop a process to accept women who have limited formal education into vocational programs. Canadian partners included Niagara College, Red River College and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.

“ACCC’s approach for international projects has always been as a partner offering options and adapting our programs to local needs,” says Paul Brennan ACCC Vice-President of International programs. “The Brazilian institutes embraced the recognition of informal learning and built on it, producing great results with hundreds of women finding jobs or setting up their own businesses after graduating.”

The Mulheres Mil project was initially intended to reach poor women in the remote northern region of Brazil, but owing to the powerful results, it will now be extended across the country through the federal institute system.  Women were given skills that could be used to develop small businesses or to work in local industries. Programs included fashion, handicrafts, tourism, food processing and fisheries as well as computer skills and basic accounting. The project received $2 million from the Canadian International Development Agency and $4 million from Brazilian government.

Brazilian representatives travelled to Mozambique earlier this month to share their experience with government representatives and post-secondary educators who are interested in replicating this approach in Africa.


See a full list of participating Canadian colleges below.
Download Project Backgrounder (Adobe PDF).
Project website:
Project summary video (in Portuguese):

For more information:

Debby Duford
Communications Officer
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Tel.: (613) 746-2222, ext. 3116

Sector Canadian Colleges Regional federal institutes Brazil

Niagara College
George Brown College
College Montmorency


Culinary and food processing

Red River College
Cégep Régional de Lanaudière


Fishery Collège de la Gaspésie et des Îles

Rio Grande do Norte

Fashion and Handicraft

New Brunswick College of Craft and Design
Cégep Marie Victorin


(Download PDF version)