Education Secretary in Brazil Gets F in Geography and Pink Slip

Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro In Brazil, the governor of the richest Brazilian state, São Paulo, sacked the Secretary of Education following the printing of thousands of school books with maps of South America which ignored the existence of Ecuador, inverted geographically Uruguay and Paraguay and showed Bolivia sharing territory with Paraguay.

An embarrassed governor and presidential hopeful José Serra was forced to give Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro the sack, not only because of the public outrage at such errors but also given the millions of dollars a reprint with the correct maps of the books would cost.

The book was intended for all sixth graders (public and private schools) and was to be distributed in Brazil's richest state which contributes with a third of the country's GDP and has a population of 42 million.

In the books' maps Ecuador on the Pacific, between Peru and Colombia did not figure and the name of landlocked Paraguay was given to Uruguay, which has hundreds of kilometers of beaches stretching from Argentina to Brazil.

Paulo Renato de Souza, a former federal Education minister and currently a member of the Lower House will take over Castro job.

In an attempt to downplay the "academic" scandal, Ms. Castro said that Souza would have "a better image ahead of the 2010 presidential election."

"He has a greater political influence," said the disgraced Castro.

Governor Serra from the opposition Social Democrat party is tipped as a favorite to win the 2010 presidential election in Brazil when the second term of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his Workers Party comes to an end.



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