Brazil’s National Youth Inclusion Program (ProJovem) expects to benefit 200,000 young Brazilians in the coming months. This is the estimate made by the National Youth secretary, Beto Cury, for whom the consolidation of the ProJovem is one of his department’s main challenges in 2006.
At present the program covers 90,000 students and is active in all the country’s capitals. The program is open to youths between the ages of 18 and 24 who have not completed fundamental education and are not working. They receive professional training and a monthly stipend of US$ 45 for one year so they can finish school [through grade 8].
The ProJovem was based on suggestions made by an interministerial group created in 2004. The group defined nine challenges for the federal government in the youth area:
(1) expand access to quality public education; (2) eradicate youth illiteracy; (3) generate employment and income; (4) provide job training; (5) expand access to sports, leisure, culture, and information technology; (6) guarantee human rights and affirmative action; (7) encourage healthy living; (8) make more room for youth to exercise citizenship and social participation; and (9) improve the quality of life for youth living in rural areas and traditional communities, such as Indian villages and settlements inhabited by descendants of runaway slaves.
According to Cury, these challenges have served as guidelines for all the government’s activities concerning youth. "The government now has a program to deal with each of these challenges," he said.
In the area of education, for example, the secretary pointed to the University for All Program (ProUni), the biggest scholarship program in the history of Brazilian education.
The ProUni was created by the federal government in 2004 and provides the opportunity for thousands of low-income youth to attend a university.
Full and partial scholarships are made available to students enrolled in graduate and post-graduate courses in private institutions of higher education that adhere to the program, and these institutions, in turn, are exempted from certain tax payments.
In the area of professional training, the government offers such programs as the Factory School program and youth consortia that are part of the First Job program.
Besides consolidating the ProJovem program, Cury said that his department plans to pursue greater integration among programs developed by different ministries.