The Federal Government of Brazil regulates this country’s educational system through the Ministry of Education. The government provides each area with funding and educational guidelines, and the individual states are responsible for implementing and enforcing these. Brazil is equipped with public and private sector schools.
The private sector schools are of a far superior nature, but are costly, while the public sector schooling is free of charge.
The school career of children is broken up into different, progressive stages:
• Elementary school (Ensino Fundamental) – six to 14 years of age
• High school (Ensino Médio) – 15 to 17 years of age
• Higher education (Ensino Superior) – this occurs after schooling is completed.
Book covered with Brazilian flag.
School is compulsory for all children between seven and 14 years of age. However, this is seldom enforced, as many children live in rural areas or have to work to make money for their families instead of spending time at school. Public schools often lack plumbing and heating and the structures are dilapidated and neglected. This has led to a high rate of illiteracy and unemployment in Brazil, which has, in turn, led to even less schooling as these ones must then involve their children in the work sector to bring in extra funds. The vicious circle continues.
The number of Brazilian children that make it to high school is dropping at a steady rate. In fact, only about a third of school children ever get to Grade Six. For this reason, the government is taking some definite steps forward to improve the situation of schooling. The foreign debt that saps the government of so much money is being paid off and the available funds reallocated to make allowances for education.
In terms of universities, there is a mixture of publicly- and privately-funded institutions. Publicly-funded universities are completed financially supported by the government and offer a superior education to those that are privately-funded.
A Bachelor degree in Brazil takes between four and six years to complete. As such, it exceeds the level and category of a European Bachelor’s degree, and can be compared (although not completely alike) to the European Master’s degree.
The grading system is usually either based on percentages (from 0% to 100%) or on a scale system, where 0 is the worst and 10 is the best mark. The grading system works as follows:
A: 90% – 100% (Excellent)
B: 80% – 89% (Very good)
C: 70% – 79% (Good)
D: 60% – 69% (Satisfactory)
E: < 60% (Failing grade)
The lowest passing grade is usually 6 or 7 out of 10, which is equivalent to a C or D symbol. However, this grade is up to the university involved, and some drop their pass rate to a 5.
Some of the best known universities in Brazil are:
• The College of Medicine of São Paulo
• The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
• The Federal University of Santa Catarina
• The Federal University of Minas Gerais
• The Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte
• The Federal University of Pernambuco
Here is the Brazilian department of education web site: http://www.mec.gov.br/