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Mobile Education II 2021


Journalistic Reporting with waste pickers' context (watch original)

Full Title: Mobile Education for Low Income People: focus on Waste Pickers

Stakeholders: Waste Pickers (initially, the ones in dumps in Brazil); Grupo Gestão; Aalborg University; Brazilian Central Bank.

Problem: after the closure of dumpsites, waste pickers have difficulty in: managing their monthly income; managing their cooperatives; finding alternatives to obtain income and; effectively exercising their citizenship. More info.

Context: when they worked at the Lixão da Estrutural, the waste pickers in Brasília made money every day by selling what they managed to collect from the garbage. When the dump was closed, they started to work at the sorting centers, with their cooperatives, each receiving money only once a month (as opposed to a little every day as at the time of the dump) and, in most cases, their income has been reduced. Most are semi-literate and some are illiterate. In addition, the majority were unable to complete their studies and do not see themselves studying anything. They see no alternative for them but to work as scavengers and are exposed to reduced income and a financial system that pushes them into debt.

For 1 and a half years after the dump was closed, the collectors received financial aid to cover the reduction in income they had. To be eligible for this money, they needed to attend classes that the SLU provided on various topics, such as entrepreneurship, personal health and cooperatives, being something essential for them to progress while receiving the aid. However, because it was in person, it made them lose one * day of work per month and limited the reach and frequency of training.

As they have access to the internet (although limited), the idea is to make an application that takes them through learning journeys, offering them prizes for their progress (via private or public funding), and that allows them to learn at a distance. The journeys must be based on gamification.

There are another 3000 dumps in Brazil, with more than 200,000 waste pickers in total, which need to be closed by 2024, according to the New Regulatory Framework for Brazilian Sanitation sanctioned on July 15, 2020 by the presidency of the republic. Therefore, many waste pickers will need to be helped.

Objective: In 2018, the second largest dumpsite in the world, the largest in Latin America, located in Brasilia, Brazil, ended its activities. Consequently, the approximately 2500 waste pickers who depended on recycling waste from the dumpsite, found themselves without a source of income. With the goal of solving this problem, the government created sorting facilities so that waste pickers could still earn income by continuing to contribute to the local recycling chain.


In the years since, government entities, researchers and leaders from the sorting facilities diagnosed that, in addition to their low incomes, the lack of financial education of this population was a bottleneck for the waste pickers to get their basic needs. Aware of this challenging scenario, an international and cross-disciplinary collaboration between Aalborg University (AAU) and University of Brasilia (UnB), the Mobile Education Project (MEP) of the EPIC SDG Challenge (SDGC) initiative, started in 2019 with the goal of providing the support to the waste pickers on their educational gaps through digital learning.


Since the conception of the SDGC initiative, students have been working within a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach, with different teams from both universities working on solving the problem, as a result many premises were validated.

The activities in the MEP initiative have resulted in the creation of a digital learning platform named Educado. The platform consists of two subsystems: a web application for creating digital learning content and a mobile application for learners to process the content. Product ownership of Educado has been transferred to an AAU based engineering start-up company, SomethingNew, with the ambition of establishing common ground for the continued collaborative effort. Hereby, this project proposal is part of the next round of MEP initiative projects, now managed in close collaboration between AAU, UnB and SomethingNew.

Project Owners: Daniel Britze, Jacob Jensen

Supervising Professors: Simone Monteiro, Jens Myrup Pedersen, Paulo Celso, Edgard Costa

Courses involved: Aalborg University and UnB (PSP1, PSP2, PSP3 and PSP5)


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