«What actually matters is the transfer of truth and knowledge. The more our society is aware of its problems, the better off our country will be.»
Alexandre Soares dos Santos, February 2019
Teresa and Alexandre Soares dos Santos have invested personal and family funds to create Iniciativa Educação, which was born from their belief that education is key to the progress of young people and the success of the country.
The first meetings that led to the creation of the Iniciativa Educação were held in 2018, when Teresa and Alexandre Soares dos Santos set up a Directive Board, formed by Nuno Crato, who was invited preside it, and by Inês Soares dos Santos Canas and Sara Miranda.
The goal of Iniciativa Educação is to help ensure young people achieve educational success, by supporting exemplary projects that have the potential to be replicated in both the educational system and in society at large. Our promoters approved the beginning of the activities with three projects that aim to promote reading and literacy, enhance professional training, and disseminate knowledge and information about education.
The purpose of the Teresa and Alexandre Soares dos Santos – Iniciativa Educação is to contribute to the national efforts to secure tangible training and qualifications for young people, especially those at risk of educational underachievement, and those who, due to financial, family, educational or social difficulties, fail to achieve educational outcomes that are within the reach of their capacities.
Iniciativa Educação believes that school failure can seriously compromise the future of young people, in particular of those who face socio-economic difficulties, but who are capable of achieving success in school and a decent professional future, if provided with adequate support.
Iniciativa recognises the immense investment that is currently being made into education, as well as the complexity and demanding nature of the challenges it poses. We do not intend, by any means, to replace the State or society in providing training and education for the Portuguese youth. Our intention is to contribute to the effectiveness and success of the tasks related to these areas, through exemplary projects that support the education and training of our youth. We design projects that we believe have the potential to become self-sustainable and serve as models for similar projects that may come to be taken up by state and local authorities or by society at large.
The Iniciativa will include a rigorous and independent assessment of the projects developed within its strategic focus, ensuring that the appropriate counterfactual method is applied in order to do so.
The Iniciativa is open to ideas, collaborations and partnerships that may contribute with human, material or intellectual resources to the various projects.
The first areas of intervention of the Iniciativa Educação are closely linked to three pressing issues that are currently affecting the Portuguese youth and society at large: the initial stages of learning how to read; the high risk of failure in transitioning to Secondary Education; and the lack of the scientifically-founded, objective information necessary to inform Parents, Professors, Students, and all of those involved in education.
In order to try to minimise these needs, the Iniciativa has developed three main projects:
The AaZ – Reading better, learning better programme
The AaZ – Reading better, learning better project, which is designed to help children who experience difficulties in basic literacy to develop their reading abilities and improve their fluency;
The Ser Pro programme
The Ser Pro project, which is designed to facilitate cooperation between schools and companies in order to create professional education offers that match young people's needs and support national progress;
The Online Information on Education (Ed_On) project
The Online Information on Education (Ed_On) project, which is designed as a means through which to share recent scientific research on education, and bring together statistics and data that are useful to Professors, Parents, Students and all those who wish to think about education in a modern, open way, basing their opinions on the best information available.
In addition to its strategic lines of action, the Teresa and Alexandre Soares dos Santos – Iniciativa Educação supports other projects that are already being financed by the family: the Arco Maior, in Greater Porto, and Semear, in Greater Lisbon.
The Arco Maior socio-educational project is aimed at teenagers and young people who have excluded themselves, or have been excluded, from formal education and training systems, without having completed compulsory education. Participants ideally should be between the ages of 15 and 18. Based on an analysis of each person’s school education, practical knowledge and social skills, a project is implemented to monitor their personal development. This training is completed alongside other learning, which aims to promote independence and social inclusion. Examples of this training include visits and internships at partner bodies. Young people receive certification equivalent to year 6-9 school leaving certificates.
SEMEAR is an integrated programme that seeks to promote the social inclusion of young people and adults with intellectual and developmental difficulties through social and professional integration in the companies and social businesses in the organisation. The Soares dos Santos family began providing social support in 2014, when the SEMEAR Program was launched. The programme was designed to train and insert people with intellectual and developmental difficulties into the labour market through the Higher Institute of Agronomy, which is where support from the Soares dos Santos family began.
What we don't do
Teresa and Alexandre Soares dos Santos – Iniciativa Educação has no political or religious affiliations, and no affiliations with any specific political parties. The Iniciativa does not engage in political discussions. The positions adopted by the Iniciativa shall be expressed, in large part, through activities and projects that contribute to the tangible training and qualification of the Portuguese youth.
This programme shall not provide support for other activities or carry out studies upon request. The Iniciativa will not take part in activities that involve political parties, will not provide any services for which it is remunerated, in any shape or form, and will not provide support or consultancy services.
The Iniciativa Educação is led by Nuno Crato, Inês Soares dos Santos Canas and Sara Miranda.
NUNO CRATO has been teaching since 1980. Having begun his career teaching in secondary schools, he currently lectures on Mathematics and Statistics at the ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management.
He has also taught and carried out research in the United States, were he worked for more than a decade. He was also a senior visiting scientist at the EC Joint Research Center (JRC), in Italy. In addition to teaching, Nuno Crato was also the Minister for Education and Science from 2011 to 2015. During his term, the laws on education were amended, making education compulsory up to year 12 (ages 17 to 19), and English a compulsory subject from years 3 to 9 (ages 8 to 14). School dropout rates were also reduced by half. In 2015, Portugal ranked higher than ever before on the international lead tables for the Year 4 (ages 9 to 10) Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), ranking higher than countries that usually come top of the leader board, such as Finland. Nuno Crato strives to implement a meticulous and rigorous education system that ensures every student has equal opportunities for success.
Inês Soares dos Santos Canas
INÊS SOARES DOS SANTOS CANAS was born in 1974. She graduated in Applied Foreign Languages from the Faculty of Human Sciences at the Catholic University of Portugal (1993-1999), and gained a Post-Graduate Degree in Management at the Nova School of Business and Economics (2008).
She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos SGPS SE since 2014. Between 2006 and 2011, she was responsible for managing charity projects at "Entrajuda". She currently coordinates the Soares dos Santos family initiatives that are focused on furthering education and combating social exclusion. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation since 2018.
SARA MIRANDA graduated in Communication Sciences from the NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities. After completing an internship at the newspaper "O Público", in 1995, she began her professional career on the public TV channel "RTP".
That same year, she won the "Essayist Award" granted by the Portuguese Press Club. She worked as a researcher for information programmes and worked in several of the TV station’s newsrooms, including the "Telejornal" newsroom (a Portuguese flagship evening TV news program). Besides working as a journalist, a career she gave up in 1999, she has lectured undergraduates on Social and Cultural Communication Studies at the Catholic University of Portugal. She has always worked in the area of communications, having also held, among others, the position of Assistant to the Minister of Culture in the 13th Portuguese Constitutional Government; Senior Consultant at the Imago agency (which is now known as Llorente & Cuenca Portugal); Head of Communication and Image at the Santander-Totta Group in Portugal; Strategy Director of Brandia Central and, later on, Director-General of the same company. Sara is currently the Director of Communication and Corporate Responsibility of the Jerónimo Martins Group, a position she has held since May 2010 and in which she reports directly to the Group's President and Executive Officer.
The Directive Board of the Iniciativa Educação is advised by a small group of members.
Mónica Vieira holds a PhD in Educational Sciences, with a specialization in teaching analysis and organization, from the University of Coimbra. Between 2015 and 2019, she was coordinator of the research team at the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation where, between 2010 and 2015, she was content and project manager in the areas of education, science and economics. Before joining the Foundation, Mónica worked as a special education technician at Cercilei and as a trainers, teachers and other technicians certified trainer.
Ana Bela Ferreira obtained an undergraduate degree in journalism from the Faculty of Letters at the University of Coimbra. From January 2008 to July 2019 she worked as a journalist for the Diário de Notícias (a Portuguese Daily Newspaper) in the media, society and online news departments. Over the years she has written mostly on education, science, health and social security. She was also a member of the website's editing team for 18 months.
Our Project Coordinators
João Arménio Lamego Lopes is the coordinator of the AaZ - Read Better, Learn More project. He has a degree in Psychology from the University of Porto (1981), Master in Educational and Developmental Psychology (University of Porto, 1991) and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minho (1996). Professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Minho since 1995. Associate Professor with Aggregation at the same University (2004). Director of the Department of Applied Psychology (2015-2019) and of the Master in Educational Psychology Themes at UM. Director of the PhD Program in Applied Psychology for CPLP countries. President of the Scientific-Pedagogical Council for Continuing Teacher Education (2014-2018), Portugal representative at CERI-OECD (2015-2017) and member of IAVE General Council (2013-2018).
Isabel Hormigo is the coordinator of the Ser Pro project. She graduated in Mathematics at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and is currently teaching at the D. Filipa de Lencastre School Cluster, where she has held several coordination and management positions.
She was responsible for coordinating the Curricular Structure Review, defining the Education Efficiency and Resource Management Indicators, designing the Study Programmes and Targets, from 2011 to 2015, and has been Assistant to the Minister of Education and Science. Within the framework of the plan to combat early school leaving and promote educational success, she coordinated the professionalising pilot experiments in primary and secondary education, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding between Portugal and Germany in this area.
She was a member of the National Council of Education and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Portuguese Mathematical Society.
The Iniciativa has the collaboration of a qualified group of national and international experts.
Althea Need Kaminske (formerly Bauernschmidt) is an Associate Professor at St. Bonaventure University. She joined the Learning Scientists team in 2018.
Althea received her Ph.D. from Purdue University and her B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Linguistics from Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!). A common theme throughout her research is the application of cognitive psychology to education. Althea’s research is guided by questions such as: What is the most effective, and realistic, way for students and teachers to apply retrieval practice in the classroom? How do cell phones and other media affect attention and memory? Althea is the co-author of Five Teaching and Learning Myths – Debunked and co-director of the Center for Attention, Learning, and Memory at St. Bonaventure University. When she is not teaching, Althea enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Célia Oliveira holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of Minho, with a doctoral thesis on the role played by attentional skills in working memory. She graduated in Psychology, with a pre-specialisation in School and Educational Psychology, and completed her Master's in Clinical Psychology also at the University of Minho.
She is currently teaching at the Lusófona do Porto University, where she is responsible for curricular units in the field of Cognition (Psychology of Memory and Attention) and Educational Psychology (Educational Psychology and School Psychology). She is a member of the HEI-Lab - Digital Human-Environment Interaction Lab, of the Lusófona University of Humanities and Technologies, and a member of the research group on learning and behavioural problems, of the Research Centre on Psychology of the University of Minho. Her interests and research activity revolve around Learning, Attention and Human Memory.
She has a vast and continued experience in clinical practice with children and teenagers, and she has been providing scientific advice for research projects, as well as technical advice for community interventions.
Félix Esménio holds a degree in Law and has been a senior manager of the public institution IEFP for over three decades. He was vice-president of this institution's governing board, having held leadership positions in the fields of employment and vocational training. He was a national representative in community and international programmes, and the executive director of the Human Capital Operational Programme. He is a senior consultant in education and social inclusion programmes aimed at strengthening dual learning environments (schools/companies) and a member of the Advisory Council of EPIS - Empresários pela Inclusão Social (Entrepreneurs for Social Inclusion) (pro bono).
Maria Gabriela Morais de Castro Fernandes Velasquez
Porto Primary Teaching Course (1978).
Specialized Higher Education Diploma in Educational Support at Santa Maria Higher School of Education (1997).
Master in Psychological Teacher Training (2002), PhD in Education, in the area of Educational Psychology (2009), at the University of Minho.
Visiting Professor at the undergraduate degree in Basic Education and in the Masters of Early Childhood Education and Elementary teaching at Santa Maria Higher School of Education (2010-2015).
Elementary school teacher and School Coordinator at the S. João da Foz Elementary School, Garcia de Orta School Group, in Porto (2006-…).
Gonçalo Lima collected and treated data for the website. He is been working on the field of economics of education and education policy. Gonçalo was junior consultant of the Directorate for Education and Skills of OECD, in Paris, for two years. He co-authored the OECD Review of School Resources: Portugal 2018, about the use of school resources in the country, as well as two other international reports. From last year, he has been conducting research for the Knowledge Centre for the Economics of Education, at Nova SBE. Gonçalo has a BSc and a MSc from ISCTE.
Hugo Reis is a Research Economist at the Economics and Research Department (Structural Research Studies Unit) at the Banco de Portugal and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Catolica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, where he teaches Econometrics and Economics of Education.
He completed his PhD in Economics at University College London under the supervision of Pedro Carneiro and Orazio Attanasio and was a Short-Term Consultant at the Development Economics Research Group (World Bank).
His main research interests are in Economics of Education, Program Evaluation, Labour Economics, Microeconometrics and Development Economics. He has published a number of peer-reviewed articles in internationally renowned scientific journals, including International Economic Review.
Joana, who has worked as an educational psychologist since 2003, obtained her doctorate in health sciences (specialising in neuropsychology) from the Institute of Health Sciences at the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP) in 2014. She currently works at the UCP's Interdisciplinary Health Research Centre (CIIS) and is one of the key figures in the Mind, Brain and Education project, where she collaborates with researchers from various schools. In 2013, she took part in the 3rd Latin American School for Educational, Cognitive and Neural Sciences, through the James S. McDonnell Foundation Alumni Award, and in 2015 received the D. Pedro IV Foundation Merit Award. Her research interests include neuropsychology applied to education, with particular emphasis on the neuropsychological assessment of children and teenagers. Joana is also the co-author of the book “Quando o cérebro do seu filho vai à escola” (When your child's brain goes to school).
João Marôco is an associate professor at ISPA-IU and invited professor at the New University of Lisbon where he teaches statistics, data analysis, and research methods. He is also a consultant for Educational Assessment and Statistics at the World Bank. Between 2014 and 2018 he served on the board of directors of IAVE, I. P. (the Portuguese National Assessment Agency) where he coordinated PISA, TIMSS, TIMSS Advanced, PIRLS, and ICILS and e-Assessment pilot projects. He is the author/co-author of more than 300 research papers related to statistics, psychometrics and education and four books in Statistics and Psychometry. According to Google Scholar, his academic works have been quoted more than 23 000 times (H=52, i10=153).
Jorge Sinval is a psychometrician who works as an invited assistant professor at ISPA – Instituto Universitário de Ciências Psicológicas, Sociais e da Vida, and at the ISCTE Business School of the ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa. He teaches statistical analysis, psychometrics, research design, and data analysis in the B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. cycles of study. He is also a post-doctoral researcher at the Business Research Unit (ISCTE-IUL), and at the William James Center for Research (ISPA).
He holds a double Ph.D. from the University of São Paulo (Doctor of Science) and from the University of Porto (Doctor of Psychology). Jorge received his master’s degree in psychology (with specialization in work and organizational psychology) from the Catholic University of Portugal. His B.Sc. in psychology was attained at the Catholic University of Portugal. Jorge is currently enrolled in the second year of a master’s in epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.
His research interests include psychometrics, organizational psychology, epidemiology, and International large-scale assessments (e.g. TIMSS, PISA and PIRLS). Being a Cochrane author, Jorge is also very interested in occupational health, being developing with an international team of coauthors a systematic review of the interventions for improving recovery from work. He is particularly interested in two statistical techniques: Bayesian Structural Equation Modeling and Network Meta-Analysis; using R as his preferred statistical programming language.
He collaborates in several projects. Being one of them, the Burnout Assessment Tool (BAT) consortium, where he belongs to the Portuguese team responsible for its adaptation to Portugal.
Graduate of the University of Porto in 1970 with an undergraduate degree in chemical and industrial Engineering, José went on to obtain a master's in mathematics (M.Sc.) and a doctorate (D.Phil.) in theoretical chemistry from the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom (1976). He lectured at the University of Porto Faculty of Sciences from 1968 to 2013, reaching the rank of professor in 1985. José has also been the President of the Department of Chemistry and of the University of Porto’s Faculty of Science Scientific Council, chairman of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology’s Exact Sciences Scientific Council, chairman of the Santander Universities Programme and president of the Portuguese Chemical Society.
Other positions José has held over the years include vice-rector of the University of Porto (1998-2006), member of the parliament (2009-11), State Secretary for Higher Education (19th constitutional government, 2013-2015) and State Secretary for Higher Education and Science (20th constitutional government, 2015).
Chairman of the General Council of the University of Beira Interior (2017-date).
Coordinator of te Casa das Ciências project (2008-date).
Ludmila D. Nunes is the scientific writer for the Association for Psychological Science (APS). She obtained her doctorate in psychology from the University of Lisbon and developed her research in the fields of human memory and learning at the Washington University in St. Louis, Purdue University and the University of Lisbon.
In addition to her work as a researcher, she also taught Introduction to Cognitive Psychology and Human Memory at Purdue and was a reviewer for several scientific journals.
Email address: email@example.com
Megan Sumeracki (formerly Megan Smith) is an Assistant Professor at Rhode Island College. She co-founded the Learning Scientists in January 2016 with Yana Weinstein, a former member of the team.
Megan received her Master’s in Experimental Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Purdue University. Her area of expertise is in human learning and memory, and applying the science of learning in educational contexts. Megan's research program focuses on retrieval-based learning strategies, and the way activities promoting retrieval can improve meaningful learning in the classroom. She addresses empirical questions such as: What retrieval practice formats promote student learning? What retrieval practice activities work well for different types of learners? And, why does retrieval increase learning? In her spare time Meg crochets, and recently started a blog to showcase her projects. She also loves to travel, go hiking and camping, and wine tasting!
Paul A. Kirschner (1951) is emeritus professor of educational psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands, honorary doctor (doctor honoris causa) at the University of Oulu, Finland, and a guest professor at the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences in Flanders, Belgium. Prior to his retirement he was a distinguished university professor at the Open University of the Netherlands and a visiting professor of education at the University of Oulu, Finland.
He has published more than 350 scientific articles as well as hundreds of popular articles and blogs for teachers and school administrators in English (3-Star Learning Experiences: An Evidence-Informed Blog for Learning Professionals) and Dutch. He is also (co)author of a number of very successful books, including Ten Steps to Complex Learning, Urban Myths about Learning and Education and More Urban Myths About Learning and Education, as well as two forthcoming books Evidence Informed Learning Design and How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice. He is also chief editor of the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning and commissioning editor of Computers in Human Behavior.
You can read more about him, or get in touch with him via his web page.
Pedro De Bruyckere (Ph.D. 1974) is an educational scientist working at Arteveldehogeschool, Ghent, since 2001 and, since 2018, as a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He has co-written several books in Dutch in which he debunks popular myths on GenY and GenZ, education and pop culture. Pedro is an often asked to be a public speaker as one of his strongest points how he can explain serious stuff humorously. In 2015, the book he co-wrote, Urban Myths about Learning and Education was published worldwide by Academic Press and listed by The Guardian as one of the 10 books every educator should read. The book was also translated in Swedish and Chinese. It was followed in 2018 by his second internationally published book: The Ingredients for Great Teaching. In 2019, a myth-busting sequel was published by Routledge, More Urban Myths about Learning and Education. Pedro is an avid blogger on ThEconomyOfMeaning.com.
Pedro Freitas is a PhD candidate at Nova School of Busineess and Economics (Nova SBE), where he is part of Nova Center for the Economics of Education. At Nova SBE, he previously obtained a BSc and MPhil in Economics. His research has been focused on topics of Economics of Education and Human Capital, addressing issues such as: measures of teacher quality; grade inflation and mismatch between internal and external scores; human capital externalities or the reasons behind the progression in PISA tests. Relevant part of his work exploits the Microdata on the Portuguese Education System and Labour Market. He has also worked on the impact evaluation of educational programs implemented in Portugal. He was a visiting research student at department of economics of university College of London (UCL) and he is currently visiting researcher at the Economics Department of Banco de Portugal. At Nova SBE he has been Teaching assistant and grader of several undergraduate and Master courses.
Pedro Silva Martins is Professor at Queen Mary University of London, which he joined in 2004. His main areas of research are labour economics, economics of education, and public policy evaluation. He has conducted several research projects with international organisations such as the European Commission, the ILO and the OECD. He chairs the scientific council of EPIS since 2013. Between 2011 and 2013 he was minister for employment in the government of Portugal. Website: https://sites.google.com/site/pmrsmartins/home