The country has more than 42 million people above the age
of 10 who cannot read or write in their day-to-day life, which
represents 31.4% of the population in this age group. In 2001,
49.8% of teachers for basic schooling had not completed higher
learning, and 3.1% of them had basic schooling as their only
education, completed or not. The worst levels are in the Northern
region: 78.2% don't have higher education and 8.3% don't have
basic education. Docents in the Northeast make 44% less than
the national average salary. In considering the indigenous
population, the level of exclusion can be seen in the amount
of resources devoted to this category in 2003: 0.001% of the
federal budget for education.
to education in Brazil
is still not universal
Mariâgela Graciano 2
There were no changes to educational policy in 2003 that resulted
in changes to the educational system or that could have altered
statistics in this area.
legacy left for the Lula administration in the area of education
demonstrates that despite an increase in the availability
of basic education registered in the past years, the country
has yet to achieve even universal access for the population
between 7 and 14 years of age: in 2000, 98.9% of this population
were enrolled in basic schooling, meaning that over 280 thousand
people in this age group were out of school. Fourteen percent
of children between 7 and 9 do not attend school in the Northeast,
a statistic that rises to 15.6% in the North. If we consider
the group between 10 and 14, the national level for children
out of school is 6.39% -- 14% for the North and Northeast
regions. Twenty-six percent of Brazilian children do not attend
pre-school (ages between 5 and 6).
has been a higher increase in attendance for high school in
relation to other education levels in the past ten years:
from 1991 to 2000 enrollment increased 117.31%, while for
basic schooling it increased 22.31%. Despite this increase,
the levels are still very low: in 2000, only 40.1% of the
population above 14 attended high school.
addition to not reaching everyone, the increase in attendance
for basic education was not followed by an increase in the
quality of the education. A higher number of students per
class, less time for classes, teachers' low qualification,
low level of professionalism and low salaries, inadequate
installations, and a lack of teaching materials become factors
that impede a satisfactory performance of teachers as well
conditions described above have caused high levels of students
dropping out or being held back - 19.5% in Brazil. These indicators
show a huge discrepancy between the supply and the demand,
and confirm the regional differences: the highest levels of
students dropping out or being held back appear in the North,
with 27.3%, and the Northeast, with 27.5%.
large number of children and teenagers outside the school
system, combined with the slowing down of education caused
by the number of students dropped out or held back, lead to
high levels of discrepancies between age and grade. In 2001,
the level of discrepancy between age and grade was 50% for
5th grade; 45.7% for 8th grade; 58% for the 1st grade of high
school and 50.8% for the 3rd grade of high school.
low educational average in the country caused by this situation
can be verified by the high level of functional illiteracy.
Added to the number of completely illiterates, there are 42,844,220
people above 10 years of age who cannot make use of reading
or writing in their daily life, representing 31.4% of the
population in this age group. The Northeast once again shows
the highest levels: 17.92% of the people in this age group
are completely illiterate (more than three times that of the
South) and 28.93% are functionally illiterate.
factor that needs to be considered when analyzing the quality
of public education is the teacher, including their education,
career, and salary. According to statistics from the Department
of Education/National Institute for Educational Study and
Research (MEC/INEP), for all of Brazil in 2001, 49.8% of teachers
for basic schooling had not completed higher education, which
is considered adequate for teaching at this level. Of those,
3.1% had only basic education, completed or not. Regionally,
the worst level is in the North, with 78.2% of teachers without
higher education and 8.3% without basic education, followed
by the Northeast, with 70.7% and 6.3% respectively.
salaries, beside being very low, once again show regional
discrepancies, without there being a national standard or
single career track, leaving them at the mercy of economic
conditions of regions, states and municipalities. Teachers
in the Northeast make approximately 43.9% less than the national
average for their category. In addition, many schools do not
have adequate for good education. In 2001, 44.4% of students
in basic schooling had no access to a library and 62.4% had
no access to sports facilities.
data from IBGE also reveal that the progress made in education
for Brazilians has not change the level of inequality for
the most vulnerable groups. According to a study by the Brazilian
Women´s Network (Articulação de Mulheres
Brasileiras), in 2001 the level of illiteracy lowered for
everyone, but in 1999 it was still considerably higher for
blacks (20%) than for whites (8.3%). In that same year, while
whites had on average 6.7 years of education, the average
level for blacks was 4.5 years.
1992 and 1999, the percentage of people between 14 and 17
years of age who did not attend school fell from 35.8% to
18.3%, but comparing whites and blacks, the level for the
former lowered from 31% to 15.6% and for the latter from 40.6%
to 21%, preserving the inequality.
2001 the National Education Plan, following guidelines from
the World Health Organization, estimated that there are 15
million Brazilians with special needs. However, in 1999 there
were 293,403 enrollments from that group, with 58% having
mental disabilities; 13.8% with multiple disabilities; 12%
hearing impaired; 3.1% seeing impaired and 4.5% with physical
disabilities. In that same year, of the 5,507 municipalities,
59.1% did not offer Special Education. In the Northeast, 78.3%
of the municipalities did not offer them, compared to 41.9%
in the Southern region.
relation to the indigenous population, the intensity of exclusion
can be seen in the minuscule resources devoted to this category
in 2003: 0.001% (R$ 250 thousand) of the national budget for
education (roughly R$14.9 billion). In general, the rural
population receives less support for education. Black women
have fewer educational opportunities. While white women have
literacy and education levels of 90% and 83%, respectively,
black women have levels of 78% and 76%.
only recent innovative educational policy has been in relation
to teaching teenagers and adults to read and write-a task
that is now controlled by the program Brasil Alfabetizado
(Literate Brazil), officially launched by the government in
September 2003, with the goal of educating 20 million people
in four years, in partnership with private organizations,
while utilizing various methods.
first result of this initiative was to put the right to education
for teenagers and adults in the national debate. Historically,
this category of education has been handled by the government
as a compensational policy, or a type of assistance, rather
than a basic human right. In the recent past, former president
Fernando Henrique Cardoso vetoed this category of education
from benefiting from a universal policy by limiting its access
to resources from the Fund for Development and Maintenance
of Basic Education and Teaching Values - Fundef. At the same
time, he encouraged a compensatory policy through the Programa
Alfabetização Solidária (Program for
Literacy through Solidarity).
beyond teaching teenagers and adults to read and write, it
is necessary to guarantee that these segments of the population
have access to continued education, as it is required by the
1988 Constitution. In order to do this, it is necessary to
give this group access to Fundef, lifting the former president's
veto and forcing states and municipalities to consider this
population in their educational systems. Without the guarantee
for continued education, the most that can be achieved is
an increase in the level of functional illiteracy.
is also necessary to combine these measures with other policies
of inclusion, since education alone does not result in personal
and social development: it does not guarantee land, work,
food or housing.
National investigator for Direito à Educação
(Right to Education), executive secretary for the NGO Ação
Educativa and professor at PUC-SP.
Auditor for National Investigator for Direito à Educação.