Monday, January 2, 2012

Achieving World-Class Education in Brazil: The Next Agenda

Brazil has made great strides in basic education over the past 15 years and has set audacious national goals for attaining OECD levels of quality  by 2021.Basic education in Brazil historically has consisted of a fi rst cycle of eight grades (called primary education in this report and known as “fundamental education” in Brazil) and a second cycle of three grades (secondary education). In 2006, the country adopted legislation extending the length of compulsory schooling by one year and creating a nineyear primary cycle. The offi cial entry age to primary school was lowered from seven to six. The preschool cycle was correspondingly shortened to cover ages four through fi ve rather than four through six. Because the new system was not implemented until 2009, we use the old system throughout this report for consistency in comparing historical data, unless otherwise specified.

The 2009 results for the Program for International Student  Assessment (PISA), which measures high school student learning levels in more than 70 countries, confi rmed Brazil’s impressive progress in raising educational performance. Brazil’s 52-point increase in math since 2000 indicates that students have gained a full academic year of math mastery over the decade, and the country’s overall score increase—from 368 to 401—is the third largest on record. Brazil’s scores still trail the averages for OECD and East Asian countries, and are no grounds for complacency. But few countries have made faster or more sustained progress.

How did Brazil move from one of the worst performing education systems of any middle-income country to strong and sustained improvement not only in learning but also in primary and secondary school coverage? What are the prospects for Brazil to achieve its goal of student learning levels on par with the OECD average over the next decade? What more could be done to accelerate Brazil’s education advance? These are the three central questions of this report. 

We focus on basic education, which is the foundation in every country for all other progress in education. By telling the story of Brazil’s remarkable  run of policy continuity and sustained reform over the past fi fteen years, we hope this report can serve as a resource for other developing countries seeking rapid progress in education. By benchmarking Brazil’s current education performance in a competitive global context, we identify issues that still need attention. In reviewing the latest research from Brazil and elsewhere that can guide the design of sound reforms and cost-effective programs, we hope to stimulate and support the federal, state and municipal governments in setting the education agenda for the next decade. This report will succeed if it persuades a broad audience of Brazilian policy makers and citizens that the country is making impressive progress in education, but the agenda ahead is crucial. 

World Bank.Author: Bruns,Barbara; Evans,David;Luque, Javier. Document Date: 2011/01/01. Document Type: Publication. Report Number: 65659.

This volume is a product of the staff of the International Bank for Reconstruction  and Development / The World Bank. The fi ndings, interpretations, and conclusions  expressed in this volume do not necessarily refl ect the views of the Executive  Directors of The World Bank or the governments they represent.The World Bank does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this  work. The boundaries, colors, denominations, and other information shown on any map in this work do not imply any judgement on the part of The World Bank concerning the legal status of any territory or the endorsement or acceptance of  such boundaries.

For  information about Projects in Brazil see Brazil Projects