Insper launches research center dedicated to early childhood policy

Publicado em 08 fevereiro 2021

The Brazilian Center for Early Child Development (CPAPI) was launched at an event that brought together researchers, institutions, and those interested in improving Brazilian public policies on education

The Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisa Aplicada à Primeira Infância (Brazilian Center for Early Child Development or CPAPI, for its acronym in Portuguese) was launched through a webinar. The Research Center was born as an initiative of the Science Center for Childhood (NCPI, for its acronym in Portuguese), which brings together seven institutions. They seek to support public policy and professional practices for improving life in early childhood, from pregnancy to children’s age six.

CPAPI’s activities will be divided into three fronts of activity: Research, Technology Transfer, and Knowledge-Sharing. On the research front, the Center’s objectives will be to measure child development in various ways and design interventions to improve programs’ efficiency. For the technology transfer purpose, the intention is to develop an open-source platform to store and integrate the information collected, which will be available for researchers and educators. Also, to contribute to knowledge-sharing, the Center will promote courses for professionals working in early-childhood-related sectors.

The new Research Center will have as its director Naercio Menezes Filho, professor at Insper. For Prof. Naercio, who also coordinates the NCPI and our Ruth Cardoso Chair (Chair dedicated to an important brazilian sociologist), one of Brazilian society’s biggest problems is the inequality of opportunities. “We aim at working to ensure that all children born in Brazil have the same opportunities to achieve their dreams. Currently, this is not what happens, and this scenario has tremendous consequences for our society. Hence, the Center’s main goal is to promote better conditions for children, especially through a healthy early childhood.”

Launch of the new Research Center

At the opening of the event, Marcos Lisboa, president of Insper, welcomed all the guests and spoke about the importance of CPAPI and its connection with Insper’s institutional mission. “Public policy is front and center at Insper. We are aware of the importance of education for our children’s development and the critical role of policies aimed at this field”.

Next spoke Prof. Luiz Eugênio Mello, Scientific Director of FAPESP, a funding agency created with the aim of being one of the leading champions of research and knowledge production in Brazil. For him, FAPESP’s partnership in financing the new Research Center is fundamental for benefiting society as a whole. “Proposing solutions to complex problems in an interdisciplinary way is not an easy task. So for us, it is very relevant to be developing this center and teaming up with organizations that benefit from scientific research and lead transformative experiments”.

Prof. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, seconded Prof. Mello’s speech to emphasize the importance for Harvard to be part of the CPAPI initiative. “Crossing disciplines is an incredibly enriching experience for us, but science and knowledge alone do not easily translate into transforming the lives of young children. What makes us most excited about launching this center and continuing this partnership with Insper is the possibility of using scientific knowledge for real-life actions, making the world a better place”.

Together with FAPESP, Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation is responsible for CPAPI’s funding. Mariana Luz, the Foundation’s CEO, addressed the importance of formalizing the commitment to develop and implement early childhood policies for the next ten years. “I believe CPAPI will play a key role in assisting us all to find out what are the best steps to help the 20 million children who live in this developmental stage in Brazil, creating a commitment to promote a lasting impact in the public policy arena.”

Insper Chairperson Claudio Haddad recalled the initial steps of CPAPI’s creation and emphasized the importance of following the science to formulate the best solutions in Public Policy and Administration. “We at Insper believe this is a crucial matter, one that fits perfectly into our mission of educating and generating knowledge to contribute to Brazil’s economic and social development.”

For Prof. Sylvio Canuto, Vice-President for Research at the University of São Paulo (USP), it is very positive to have a large team of renowned researchers working together to study and propose public policies in the field. “I can’t think of a project of such an importance as a space dedicated to researching and proposing actions focused on early childhood and developing children, which is a vital topic in this country.”

Concluding the launching event’s keynotes, Roberta Ricardes, responsible for the Children’s Health Technical Area at the São Paulo State Department of Health, addressed the State’s role in implementing early childhood-focused public policy. “The topic of child development exists within our State since 2013 when we incorporated the subject into the State Health Program as a result of a partnership with the Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation. For us, CPAPI is also important for promoting to society a greater understanding about the importance of these developmental actions aimed at early childhood.”

Debate on challenges and prospects for child development

Next, Prof. Naercio introduced the thematic panel “Brazilian challenges and world prospects for Child Development.” For the discussion, we invited Harvard University Professors Marcia Castro, Aisha Yousafzai, and Dana Charles McCoy, along with Rice University Professor Flávio Cunha.

In the talk, mediated by Marcia Castro, the guests discussed the processes involved in a child’s development throughout early childhood, encompassing the motor, affective, cognitive, social, and language areas.