Isabel Flores, educational researcher:
Portugal continues to improve its PISA results in all areas, including languages, science and math. In 2015, Portugal's results were expected to be worse due to the crisis, but they weren't. The nation continued on its upward trend as regards results and this caught people's attention.
The reasons we were able to do this, which I believe need to be recognized, are as follows: universal access to preschool education, as well as more ambitious families and young people who see school as an important resource.
Portugal is a poor country, but its teachers are willing to help students. One of the PISA indicators that denotes socioeconomic and cultural status is established using student surveys. This indicator does not count towards a country's average score; however, Portugal scored 40% below average. In an OECD context, Portugal is a poor country.
One aspect that has changed a lot in Portugal in recent years is the number of schools that have produced good results, even in difficult social environments. This has happened without a great deal of investment or major policies from government. I honestly believe that the trends seen in schools like Carcavelos will become more frequent and that the number of schools capable of achieving these standards will increase. A change is happening, albeit quietly. By the time we notice it, it will already have happened.
Rather than the policies implemented by any government, change is being driven by a real sense of motivation within school communities and their surroundings, including companies and associations, etc., based on the idea that school can change a person's life.