To celebrate this year the 50th anniversary of the teaching of the Portuguese language abroad (EPE) means to take as a reference for this fact – the teaching of the Portuguese language and culture outside our country – the creation of a course in this field in 1972. -sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, a variant that still raises some questions, either in the light of what is today understood by EPE (all teaching of Portuguese abroad, in different contexts, modalities and recipients), or by virtue of existence, at the same time, initiatives of a similar nature were also being developed by groups of Portuguese migrants elsewhere.
What is certain is that, after the changes made on 25 April, including with regard to Portuguese emigration, the Portuguese state began to recognize the “rights to education of Portuguese citizens and their descendants abroad”, which were enshrined in Law No. 74/1977. This recognition is gaining more great importance with the creation in 1979 of the Directorate for Teaching Portuguese Abroad within the Ministry of Education. The office that will be responsible, as defined in its terms of reference, for the network of teaching Portuguese language and culture as an extracurricular activity in the field of basic and secondary education for children and young people of Portuguese and Portuguese origin living in countries in which Portuguese is not the native language . official language. This fundamental foundation was strengthened in 1982, when the state’s prerogative to “provide for the children of immigrants the teaching of the Portuguese language and access to Portuguese culture” was consolidated during the then constitutional review.one
Approximately 30 years after the creation of the Cabinet of Ministers mentioned above, in 2010, the overall leadership of the EPE was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the then Instituto Camões (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), retaining, however, joint control over some of the structural issues (for example, the definition of a network or pedagogical aspects), which remain in force today. In terms of recommendations for the teaching of the Portuguese language and culture, the goals set by QuaREPE (System of Requirements for Teaching Portuguese Abroad), a document prepared and published by the Ministry of Education in 2009, have been implemented by Camões, IP. , which has developed programs for the various skill levels, levels and age groups provided for in it, keeping this structure as one of the guidelines of the EPE.
Currently, Teaching Portuguese Abroad (EPE) is the core area of services offered by Camões, Instituto da Cooperacao e da Língua, IP (Camões, IP). Various initiatives are included in this area that aim to ensure that learning Portuguese is not only for Heritage Portuguese Language (PLH) students attending EPE’s online courses, but at the same time awakening new interests and new audiences.
Thus, the EPE network today confirms the existence of 11 structures for coordinating the teaching of the Portuguese language abroad, with which Camões IP formulates and promotes distance learning in the 17 countries covered by the network (South Africa, Germany, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Eswatini, USA, France, Luxembourg, Namibia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Venezuela, Zimbabwe), identifying needs and providing high quality educational offerings primarily to Portuguese communities and other recipients as part of a strategy also enshrined in EPE to include Portuguese in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools.
In the countries where Portugal intends to place professors to carry out these activities – the so-called official network (all mentioned except Australia, Canada, USA and Venezuela) – 322 Portuguese professors are currently developing their activities in these countries, promoting teaching of recognized quality in various modalities that are currently enshrined in the EPE. In countries where Camões IP does not have teachers – the so-called supported network (four countries above) – full support is provided to local Portuguese teaching structures, which allows about 110 thousand students in total in these two areas to receive direct and indirect support from the Portuguese state in the study of the Portuguese language and culture.
Another aspect should also be noted: that which is related to the progress made in negotiations with the educational authorities of different countries, which has led to a significant increase in the number of those who have included the Portuguese language in their curricula as an optional curriculum. language at the level of teaching basic/intermediate. In addition to the 17 already noted within the official and supported network, there are 18 more countries, for a total of 35, the integration and / or recognition of the Portuguese language in the curricula has already become a reality, which contributes to the placement of the Portuguese language. among relevant knowledge for young people who share other languages and cultures.
Known to be positive, dynamic and dedicated to all those it serves, this EPE path has not (and does not stop) being affected by limitations or constantly facing new challenges. Efforts to rebuild and consolidate the network have been, and certainly will be, directed at both of them, as well as seeking continued adaptation to demand dynamics in the various existing modalities.
On the other hand, Camões, IP has increased its investment in EPE network qualification in three main areas:
(i) Free distribution of supporting materials for teaching and learning not only to all EPE students, but also to association and community structures of Portuguese origin and local national network schools in countries where Camões IP does not have an official network, taking into account access to the Portuguese language for all more children and youth. ii) teacher training, both face-to-face and online, with enhanced teaching skills training in collaborative and hybrid/online environments, in particular using educational technology;
(iii) EPE student learning certification through a joint certification process run by the Ministry of Education through the Directorate General of Education and Camões, IP.
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In the coming years, through the “Recovery and Resilience” program, Camões IP plans to strengthen these qualification processes for Portuguese education abroad, not only at the various levels at which it operates (basic, intermediate and higher), but also at its various valences. namely support for teaching and learning processes in hybrid and online models, preparing teachers and students for new forms of collaborative and digital learning, whether face-to-face, online or hybrid models.
This intervention will be based on the creation of a digital educational ecosystem of content, tools, services, platforms and equipment that will accelerate the pedagogical, didactic, communication and administrative processes between all elements of the educational community, a sign of education quality, trust and the future that our communities deserve.
one (PINTO, Paulo Feitor. Language Policy in Portuguese Democracy (1974–2004). Lisbon: Universidade Aberta, 2008. Available at https://repositorioaberto.uab.pt/handle/10400.2/1141).