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  • Brazil's presidential candidates outline science plans


[RIO DE JANEIRO] The four main candidates in Brazil's forthcoming presidential elections all aim to increase the role of science, technology and innovation in national development.

The plans were revealed in the latest two issues of Jornal da Ciência, the most recent of which was published on 15 September.

The favourite to win the 1 October election is current president Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva, who will prioritise plans to consolidate Brazil's various science, technology and innovation policies into a single policy.

"To do so, we intend to increase the integration of these areas with other public policies and social needs so we can establish long-term strategies," Lula's working group for science and technology told SciDev.Net.

Lula's programme also includes boosting scientific literacy through activities such as the National Science and Technology Week that was created in 2004 during his first term and has run every year since.

His main rival Geraldo Alckmin says that producing scientific knowledge empowers nations to "drive their own destiny". He wants to increase the proportion of the national budget allocated to research and development from 0.9 to 1.3 per cent of the gross domestic product.

Alckmin also proposes creating a postdoctoral programme to improve the exchange of knowledge with international research institutes, but does not specify how this would be achieved.

Third-placed in current opinion polls is Heloísa Helena who wants to increase the number of education and health workers and promote the use of information and communication technologies — particularly digital television — as tools for development.

She envisions creating "powerful institutions" to coordinate the work of thousands of scientists who would create an "intelligent" and modern model of sustainable development. Helena sees the integration of the local populations into such plans as essential.

Cristovam Buarque, a candidate whose main agenda is education, believes that science communication activities should be coordinated with education policy to improve the public's scientific literacy.

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