The self-directed version of the course “On the Digital Trail of Public Money: How to monitor federal, state and municipal spending” is now available. This means that all content for the Portuguese-language course, such as video lessons, readings, quizzes and other materials, are available on the Knight Center’s online learning platform, JournalismCourses.org.
It is an additional opportunity for journalists and non-journalists to learn about how the public budget works and how to identify potential cases of misuse of taxpayer money.
“Training and promoting access to information in relation to the inspection of public accounts expands social control and contributes to improving the quality and legality of spending,” said instructor Gil Castello Branco, who has extensive experience teaching journalists how to track government spending.
Based on practical exercises on available online databases, the course teaches participants to investigate the quality and legality of public accounts and to point out suspicions of misuse of public money at different levels of government.
“I really liked Siga Brasil. It is a complex but complete database. It is a great source of data. However, you need to learn a little bit about AFO - Budgetary Financial Administration. The Compara Brasil website is also excellent, as an important secondary source,” said journalist and course participant Carlos Eduardo Matos, based in Brasília.
In its original version, the course was taught from Sept. 7 to Oct. 4, 2020 and had 2,276 registered students. Most of them were from Brazil, but students also participated from Angola, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe, as well as Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.
This course is a partnership between the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Associação Contas Abertas, with support from Google News Initiative. To learn more about the course and access its materials, visit the Knight Center's self-directed courses page.
“The methodology and platform used by the Knight Center for MOOCs [massive open online courses] are excellent! The platform offers the possibility to follow, step-by-step, all the activities of the participants,” Castello Branco said. “In a country with continental dimensions, such as Brazil, the participation of society in monitoring management is essential. The course offers tools for the exercise of citizenship.”