Changing the Future: A Conversation with Gonçalo Duque on adjusting the education system to include AI

Gonçalo has a Master’s in Sociology specialising in Family, Education and Social Policies and for 10 years worked on social intervention projects with children and young people from risk contexts before joining JA Portugal in 2016.

In an insightful interview at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Gonçalo Duque, CEO of Junior Achievement (JA) Portugal, shared his views on how to bridge the gap between traditional education and the dynamic demands of the future job market. One step towards preparing students and teachers for the rapidly evolving landscape of deep tech and artificial intelligence was the integration of deep tech into JA’s entrepreneurial programs.

While he considers the response rate and feedback on the JA programs offered to students to be successful, he also highlights the importance of training teachers in AI skills to keep them on board.

He points out that many kids today are immersed in social media and the “swipe” culture, quickly moving on to another topic when they lose interest, with a simple swipe of a finger.

“I observe that teachers are still using the same teaching methods that I experienced myself, and that is no longer viable. The attention span of today’s students is different; a solution needs to be found to bridge the gap between students’ interests and teachers’ teaching methods”


JA Portugal has recognised that some teachers lack AI skills and, as a result, has initiated a 50-hour training program covering AI fundamentals, ethics, entrepreneurship and programming. The aim is to enable teachers to support students effectively with AI projects.

Gonçalo acknowledges that while teacher training is a start, it is also important to evolve and adapt the traditional teaching model by integrating technology into the curriculum that links to the evolving interests and attention spans of today’s students, and highlights that another aspect schools need to prepare students for is the safe use of the internet in today’s world.

He also recommends training teachers in the use of tools that enhance content delivery and emphasises the importance of teaching ethics and empathy.

In this regard, Gonçalo sees greater potential in working with vocational schools, as they are most able to integrate projects on AI and programming.

“They could lead by example and become pioneers that traditional schools could follow in adapting to deep tech progress.”


But time is of the essence: “Given the rapid advances in the field of artificial intelligence, I believe we will see significant changes in the next 18 to 24 months.”