Impacts of the pandemic: TIM-OBMEP Institute scholarships help university students to stay in universities
Getting into a good university is the dream of many young people, and staying there is a big challenge. Imagine fulfilling this dream and having to face the greatest adversity of recent times: the devastating spread of the new coronavirus. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all sectors of society. Brazil is still recovering, and Education is suffering the consequences of a long period without classes and improvised distance learning.
“The pandemic, and the change to the online class system, was a very challenging period, as I used the university structure a lot. Another negative point was the lack of motivation due to not having much contact with other students and professors”, reports Daniel Silva, a Computer Science student at USP, and a fellow at Instituto TIM in partnership with OBMEP (Brazilian Public School Mathematics Olympiad).
Adapting to virtual teaching distanced students from the environment in which they were used to interacting with each other and made it difficult to assimilate the contents. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has left a trail of economic devastation across the world, raising the prices of many essential goods and negatively impacting global poverty and inequality. According to a World Bank survey released in 2021, the economic crisis generated by the pandemic resulted in an increase in global poverty for the first time in a generation. The disproportionate effects of the pandemic on the most vulnerable populations have led to a dramatic increase in inequality both between and within countries.
“The scholarship was the only means of subsistence I had at the time, it helped me with food and also put the internet at home to follow the classes”, says Eduardo Silva Feitosa, TIM-OBMEP Institute scholarship holder and student of the Mathematics course.
TIM-OBMEP Institute Scholarships
Initiated in 2015, the TIM-OBMEP Institute Scholarships are a type of scholarship aimed at medalists of the Brazilian Public Schools Mathematics Olympiad who are about to enter Higher Education.
The program guarantees participating university students not only financial aid, but also monitoring by professors – initiatives that were fundamental for young people to be able to continue their studies during the pandemic period.
“I had a very old computer that didn’t compile most of the programs that I needed to use in college, but thanks to the TIM-OBMEP grant I was able to buy a new one, which was essential in the two years of remote classes. When face-to-face classes returned, the scholarship was also very important to be able to pay for housing and basic expenses”, completes Daniel.
The return to face-to-face activities showed a drop in student performance, and the resumption has been complex. According to the last Census of Higher Education by the National Institute of Educational Studies and Research (Inep), in 2020, the contingent of graduates had a drop of 18.7% compared to 2019. In addition to the effects of the pandemic, experts attribute the decline in the lack of assistance aimed at keeping economically vulnerable students in public universities to cover housing, food and transportation expenses.
“I’m the first in my family to go to college and my parents are informal workers who live in the interior of Maranhão. So, they are unable to help me financially. In this sense, the TIM-OBMEP Scholarship has been very important for me to stay at the university”, says Daniel, who has received assistance from the program since 2020.
“Education changed my life. It was because of a medal in a mathematics Olympiad that several doors were opened for me, and I managed to get to one of the best universities in the country. I want to work to bring this opportunity to even more people”, concludes Daniel.