Reporters on the Job

Filling in the Gaps: To report today's story about Brazilian companies sponsoring basic education classes for workers, correspondent Andrew Downie visited an oil refinery in a Rio suburb. He watched as workers studied math and English. "Each had a study module. They helped each other, and the teacher walked around offering assistance. I followed her and took notes. What struck me was the woman who couldn't tell whether 99 cents was a larger number than 69 cents," he says.

But upon reflection, he realized he'd seen the gaps in the education of some Brazilians during his own community volunteer efforts. "I teach a chess class Tuesday nights in a favela – a slum – at community center. Initially, I really struggled to even convey the basics. One girl couldn't seem to understand the moves of the chess pieces. It wasn't until the next week that I realized why: she didn't understand key words, such as 'diagonal' and 'backwards.'

Survey says...

Global Wealth Skewed: Two percent of adults possess more than half of the world's wealth, while the bottom 50 percent possesses just 1 percent, according to a UN study released Tuesday. The Helsinki-based institute said this was the first global research on the topic. The study is based on figures from 2000.

A couple needed $1 million in capital to number among the richest 37 million people in the world, the top 1 percent. More than half of that group lives in the US or Japan, where average per capita net assets were $181,000 (in the US, $144,000). Still, many in the wealthy West don't own their homes, and have high debts. "Many people in high-income countries have negative net worth and – somewhat paradoxically – are among the poorest people in the world in terms of household wealth," the report said, according to Reuters.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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