Brazil is Improving its Education System, But Much Work Left to Do

Since 2003, about 36 million people have been lifted out of poverty in Brazil. The government has also worked to reduce childhood mortality and improve the education system before the deadline set by the UN Millennium Development Goals — but the country still has more work to do.

"Brazil jumped from being the 13th to being the seventh largest economy in the world. Per capita income increased by more than threefold and inequality rates fell sharply," President Dilma Rousseff said. "While in 2002, more than half the Brazilian population was poor or below the poverty line, today three out of every four Brazilians are part of the middle class and upper income ranges."

First issued in 1990, the UN Millennium Development Goals hope to end worldwide poverty and hunger and provide primary education to all by 2015.

Other educational activities have been taking place in the country for the past few years under the official Rio 2016 education program "TRANSFORMA." Launched in July, the activities promote values and ideals inspired by the Olympic Games.

Lesson plan materials can be found on the website, offering high-quality educational lessons and activities that bring the Olympic games to life through promoting sports and staying active, as well as the values associated with the games.

Since its rollout, the website has seen a flood of positive feedback from teachers:

"I was skeptical in the beginning because educational programmes used to be implemented without being discussed at the school level. I now realize that Transforma can help schools disseminate the Olympic and democratic values they need so much."

Despite all these reforms, Brazil is still in need of an improved education system. Currently, there is a shortage of about 300,000 primary school teachers and higher education institutions in the country have space for only about 20% of students who want to go. The rest end up paying fees for qualifications elsewhere.

About 991,000 students graduated from colleges in the country in 2013, a 5.7% drop (or about 60,000 students) from 2012.

The education situation in the country has caused its citizens to rise up in protest, demanding better access to education for all, seen in banners hung from the run up to the World Cup that read "Teachers are more important than footballers."

By next year, it is estimated that Brazil will need to find space for about 10 million higher education students. However, less than 1 in 5 will attend one of the country's public universities due to its high entry requirements and increased competition to attend. Instead, those students will end up attending one of the 90 private universities or 2,000 private higher education institutions recognized by the Ministry of Education. These institutions charge as much as $1,600 per month.

With the close of the World Cup came an announcement from Brazil's government, saying that by 2024 The National Education Plan hopes to have about 10% of the country's GDP, giving it the highest level in the world. The UK spends 6.2% of its GDP on education and the US, 5.4%.

10 7, 2014
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