ArticlePDF Available

The Construction of Mass Schooling in Brazil: A Two-Tiered Educational System


Abstract and Figures

During the twentieth century, most Third World countries constructed a schooling system that came to encompass a majority of children. The model of institutionalized public basic schooling, originating in Europe, progressively became a universal value. This paper discusses the way schooling was historically constructed in Brazil and why it diverged from the European-imported model of mass schooling. Brazil has a two-tiered system of education with middle and upper class children attending private schools and the disadvantaged attending public schools. The explanation for this phenomenon involves three ideas. Firstly, Brazil initially adopted a state educational system to sustain economic development and build a model national society. Secondly, the structural socioeconomic and political inequalities in Brazil were aggravated during the last three decades by a reduction of government commitment to public education. While public education, particularly in rural areas, is still rudimentary, the position of private education was reinforced. Thirdly, there is a manifest contradiction between the aim of the Brazilian political and economic elite to establish a European model of economic development and educational policy and the resulting two-tired educational system. Basic public education is not quantitatively and qualitatively available for many Brazilians.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Education and Society
© 1999 James Nicholas Publishers
Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
pp. 37-51
The Construction of Mass Schooling in
Brazil: A Two-Tiered Educational System
Abdeljalil Akkari
Fribourg University
During the twentieth century, most Third World countries constructed a
schooling system that came to encompass a majority of children. The
model of institutionalized public basic schooling, originating in Europe,
progressively became a universal value. This paper discusses the way
schooling was historically constructed in Brazil and why it diverged
from the European-imported model of mass schooling. Brazil has a two-
tiered system of education with middle and upper class children attend-
ing private schools and the disadvantaged attending public schools. The
explanation for this phenomenon involves three ideas. Firstly, Brazil ini-
tially adopted a state educational system to sustain economic develop-
ment and build a model national society. Secondly, the structural socioe-
conomic and political inequalities in Brazil were aggravated during the
last three decades by a reduction of government commitment to public
education. While public education, particularly in rural areas, is still
rudimentary, the position of private education was reinforced. Thirdly,
there is a manifest contradiction between the aim of the Brazilian polit-
ical and economic elite to establish a European model of economic devel-
opment and educational policy and the resulting two-tired educational
system. Basic public education is not quantitatively and qualitatively
available for many Brazilians.
In this article the historical context of mass-schooling in Brazil is
briefly analysed and some myths that underlie the Brazilian model of
schooling until the 1960s are considered. In conclusion the evolution
in the last three decades is discussed and the possible perspectives for
the future are delineated.
Early State Educational Efforts
Historically, the European colonization of Latin America denied the
settlers any great degree of self-government. The Spanish and
Portuguese sovereigns and their local representatives monopolized
access to the major resources of the colonies, land and manpower
(Eisenstadt, 1998). Formal education was reserved for a dominant
minority and mostly managed by religious orders such as the Jesuits.
The first public schools were founded in Brazil during the second half
of the nineteenth century under the inspiration of the philosophy of
cultural liberalism. The state progressively became the main agent
responsible for the education of the masses. Educational institutions
were built to prepare modern citizens, integrate the nation and to cul-
turally homogenize the population (Torres and Puiggros, 1997). The
nominal “right” to free public education was established in the
Imperial Brazilian constitution of 1824. Since 1934 four years of pri-
mary education have been compulsory for all children (Plank, 1990).
Diverse state models that emerged in the wake of the struggles of the
1920s and the depresssion of the 1930s gave a major role in the polit-
ical legitimation of political systems and and the modernization of
Latin American countries to public education systems. However,
views of the nation were narrow, with a large segment of the polity,
notably the indigenous populations, excluded from full citizenship
rights. The combination of a limited political democracy and a strong
middle class minority maintained this situation for a long period. It is
only in the post-World War Two period that a strong linkage between
mass education, economic development, and political democracy have
clearly emerged.
The availibity of public schooling spread slowly during the first half
of the twentieth century. In 1940, 25.4 percent of Brazilian children
aged five to fourteen were enroled in schools. The national rate of
enrollment fell to 24.1 percent in 1950 Instituto Brasileiro de
Geografia e Estatística, Censos deomograficos). The earlier influence
of the pedagogical movement of “Escola nova” also declined in this
period. It can be argued that early school experiences in Brazil reflect-
ed many of the defining characteristics of the wider political system
with its limited pluralism in which a number of dominant groups com-
peted for control of public resources (Plank, 1990). The rural popula-
tion and the inhabitants of the Northeast region were the traditional-
ly disadvantaged in terms of the spread of mass schooling in the coun-
Institutionalization and the Development of Mass-schooling
Both the expansion of industrialization and urbanization has pro-
voked a strong increase in school enrollment which grew from 24.1
percent of the school aged population in 1950 to 41.9 perecent in 1960
Education and Society
38 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
(Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Censos demograficos).
In this period the increase in mass-schooling ocurred throughout the
country, particularly in the northeast region. In addition, a massive
economic migration took place from the rural northeast to the indus-
trialized southern states.
During the decades of the fifties and sixties, Brazil, like most Latin
American countries, directed most of its resources toward improving
living conditions and expanding public education. Political leaders
formulated plans for the development of education with the expecta-
tion that they would overcome illiteracy and enable local communities
to begin to take intitiatives designed to improve their conditions.
Improvements in education were expected to contribute to economic
growth, raise the general standard of living and help towards improv-
ing employment opportunities. Education in this period was seen as
the central means of building the modern Brazilian nation. In this
context, modernity was measured by exclusively North American and
European standards and seen as the dividing line between under-
development and membership of the first world (primer mundo).
It is important to note that after the exponential growth of enroll-
ment between 1950 and 1960, enrollment slowed slightly between
1960 and 1970. However, for the first time in Brazilian history, more
than the half (56 percent) of Brazilian children attended school in
1970 (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Censos
In the Latin American region as a whole, enrollment in primary
basic education grew by 167.6 percent between 1960 and 1970, while
the illiteracy rate remained more or less constant in most countries of
the area (UNESCO, 1971). Reimers (1990) pointed out that between
1965 and 1970 the growth of net school enrollments for children ages
6-11 averaged 5.85 percent per year, outpacing the population growth
of 6-11 year-olds during the same period (3.06 percent) of children of
the same ages during the same period.
Overall, the development of mass-schooling in Brazil was under-
scored by a set of myths. The five myths suggested by Ramirez and
Boll (1987) in the study of the genesis of mass-schooling in Europe
apply perfectly to the Brazilian situation. These five myths included:
(1) the myth of the individual; (2) the myth of the nation as an aggre-
gate of individuals, (3) the myth of national and individual progress,
(4) the myth of socialization and life style continuity, (5) the myth of
the state as the guardian of the nation and guarantor of progress. The
39Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
myth of progress is obviously present in the Brazilian case. The
national flag contains the words: command (ordem) and progress (pro-
gresso). The emerging system of mass schooling was expected not only
to preserve the social order but also to create a new national society,
that was to make progress possible and irreversible. The latter was
expected to be accomplished via the production of the new Brazilian
citizen. Schooling was designed to achieve unity and progress by lift-
ing the country to the level of the first world. As described by
Mesquida in his study of the influence of Protestants on Brazilian
education, the project of modernization was supported by Methodist
leaders who considered , for example, that schooling was the best way
to implant the North-American model of development.
Relations between education and social change are dialectical and
complex. While education can be used to legitimate and reproduce a
social structure, it also can serve to challenge it; and while an educa-
tion system may function to perpetuate the social distribution of
wealth, it also can equip individuals and groups with the skills and
knowledge to humanize the work place and change the class structure
of a society. Possibly, the state effort in expanding public education
has been a key factor in increasing the size of the middle class in
Latin America, which provoked the political and social struggles dur-
ing the seventies and eighties. The era of dictatorships terminated
this hope that education would achieve a pluralistic and less class
divided society.
Another significant characteristic of the Brazilian model of school-
ing is the constancy of spatial disparities . Analyzing the growth of
school enrollments among 5-14 year-olds in Brazil between 1940-80,
in 20 states, Plank (1987) found evidence that the evolution may be
described as a diffusion process. He mapped the diffusion by the cen-
sus years in which the 40 percent enrollment rate was reached. This
figure was reached only in Rio de Janeiro in 1940, joined quickly by
Sâo Paulo and Santa Catarina in 1950, and Espirito Santo, Rio
Grande do Sul by 1960; all these states are located in the southeast
industrial region. By 1980, only three states (Maranhâo, Piauí and
Alagoas) in the northeast had not reached 40 percent enrollment of
that age group. Plank estimated that there was not a simple spatial
or temporal diffusion, but that the expansion was closely associated
with broader features of socioeconomic change in the country, notably
urbanization and changes in occupational structure that affected the
demand for educated workers. Throughout the period 1940 to 1980
the conditions of the 20 states remained broadly similar, and all
states in the country were gradually integrated into the national sys-
Education and Society
40 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
tem of mass-schooling.
On a different spatial scale, interregional differences in enrollment
within each Brazilian state are very substantial and may be greater
than inter-states differences. The logic of centre-periphery exists
simultaneously between states and within each sate. The state of
Minas Gerais is a archetypal example of regional inequality in school-
ing. While enrollment rates (5-14 years) are above 80 % in the south-
ern region of the state (e.g. Juiz de Fora), in the northern region of
Minas Gerais, enrollment rates were below 60 % in 1980s (Akkari,
Plank’s data show a small improvement in the national 5-14 enroll-
ment from 56 to 57.5 percent for Brazil between 1970 and 1980.
However the rates declined in seven states (all in the north-east).
During this period the process of diffusion of mass-schooling seems to
have gone into the reverse of the European situation. Since the earli-
est establishment of compulsory schooling, no European country had
experienced decreased enrollment in basic education. The tendency
was constantly in an upward direction with more children spending
more time at school everywhere.
Wood and Carvalho (1988) argue that there were structural forces,
internally and externally, operating to maintain a range of geograph-
ical (inter-state and rural-urban) and social inequalities in Brazil, and
that these forces are part of the broader processes of creating and
maintaining inequalities in capitalist societies. Another possible
explanation of the evolution of basic education is related to the eco-
nomic situation in rural areas. Calculated returns for rural primary
education in Brazil are estimated to be in the region of 14-15 percent,
lower than in many Third World settings, but still significant.
However, enrollment rates in rural schools in Brazil are low, suggest-
ing a relatively high cost of schooling and a perception by the popula-
tion of rates of return to primary schooling that are significantly lower
than the economists’ calculated rates (Singh, 1992). In rural Brazil
land ownership, rather than the time spent at school, constitutes the
main element in social mobility. Access to land is controlled by a few
powerful families, consequently hope of improving social position
through education is very low. An additional problem is the extractive
model of schooling where the only hope for rural students is to
migrate to urban areas or to survive in a violent context. Since the
restoration of a democratic regime in Brazil in 1985, the Comissâo
Pastoral da Terra (Catholic Church) estimates that 4966 land con-
flicts took place in the country generating 976 murders of rural work-
41Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
ers, lawyers and activists involved in the fight for land reform
(Gondim, 1998).
In concluding this section it is important to show the way the insti-
tutionalization of mass schooling in Brazil diverged from the
European model in many aspects: (1) The universalization is not effec-
tive for some regions (Northeast) and for people living in rural and
remote areas, (2) the length of school attendance remains a central
problem: school-life expectancy is very low for the poorest group in
society. Most Brazilian children spend some time in school but many
do not achieve functional literacy; and (3) differentiation in quality of
schooling has been progressively increasing along two lines: rural-
urban and public-private. The historical evolution of mass-schooling
in Brazil appears to push toward a two-tiered educational system,
which has become progressively obvious since 1970.
Two-tiered Educational System
Financial resources allocated to education in Third World countries
are governed by an economic situation which is insufficient to address
structural deficiencies in public schools. The debt crisis was clearly a
key factor in reversing expenditure on education. As pointed out by
Reimers (1991), total expenditure in education increased between
1975 and 1980 in all Latin American countries. However, between
1980 and 1985, the total expenditure in real terms diminished in 12
of 18 countries. In contrast to the previous expansion of public educa-
tion, the past two decades have witnessed a decline in financial sup-
port and quality of schooling in the region. Reimers (1991) suggested
that ministries of education have been forced to reduce their budget
to comply with the constraints of structural adjustment policies.
While the private sector is fully responsible for the debt crisis of the
1980s, education and health services, particularly those dedicated to
the poorest segment of population, are the first targets of structural
adjustment policy.
As stated by Torres and Puiggros (1997), ‘conditioned states’ have
not been able to carry out their public functions properly for a num-
ber of reasons. On one hand, the fragility of local economies made
local dominant groups unwilling to allow the pluralistic participation
of the masses in the selection of the state bureaucracy. On the other
hand, because the state historically has been identified by the popu-
lar sectors more as a pact of control by the dominant classes, it has
not been seen as an independent state working on behalf of the citi-
zenry. Public education is now under siege by the neo-liberal drive
which proposes that the logic of the market, and market exchanges,
Education and Society
42 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
should regulate educational investment (Torres and Puiggros, 1997).
Previous inequalities, and the growing distinctions between schooling
for the poor and schooling for the rich mark the educational landscape
in Brazil. In 1996, 88 percent of children (7-14 years) attended public
schools and 11.2 % frequented private schools. For the range 15-18
years (Ensino Médio), 79.5% attended public schools and 20.5% fre-
quented private institutions. Completing rates are different for pri-
vate and public schools. Children from private schools represent
18.7% of the students completing primary education (Instituto
Nacional de Estudios e Pesquisas Educacionais, 1996).
Drastic reduction in public funding forces parents to give financial
support so that schools can function. In addition, decentralization
from the federal government to the provinces leaves municipal schools
in poor regions with lack of appropriate material and motivated
teachers. This amounts to a two-tiered system of education, with chal-
lenging curriculum for the advantaged minority attending private
schools while other students attending public schools remain in
untenable conditions. In other words, students attending private
schools have a distinct advantage over those students whose only
option is to attend public schools.
Financial comparisons show the structural inequalities in school-
ing. Acknowledging that public expenditure on education was very
low particularly in the Northeast, the federal government aimed at an
ambitious expenditure of 300 US dollars per student per year in pub-
lic schools. In 1998, a national program was launched to improve basic
public education (Fundo de Manutencâo Desenvolvimento do Ensino
Fundamental). Northeast states were the main target of this pro-
gram. However, it is important to note that the monthly fees to attend
private schools are 300 US dollars.
In 1997, 1.2 million Brazilian teachers worked in primary educa-
tion. 250 thousand are considered as lay teachers (leigos). They are
concentrated in the north and northeast regions. They earned less
than 50 US dollars per month (Negri, 1997). Leigos comprise a high
percentage of teachers in some regions. For instance, 16.4% of the
teachers in the Northeast region have not completed their basic edu-
cation (Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais,
1996). Indeed, most of the teachers lack financial motivation, training
and minimal skills to be able to teach basic literacy to students. In
1997, a national survey2found that teachers in private schools earned
an average of 800 dollars while teachers in public schools earned an
average of 400 dollars (MEC, 1997).
43Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
Overall, three factors contributed considerably to the deterioration
of public schooling in Brazil during the last three decades: (a) decen-
tralization (municipalizacâo), (b) transfer of public funds to the pri-
vate economy, and (c) the involvement of multilateral and non-gov-
ernmental organizations.
(a) Decentralization
It was manifest that a policy of decentralization might improve the
quality of education by reducing the bureaucratic structure of central
administration and by involving citizens and parents in decision-mak-
ing. However, the conditions in which the decentralization policy was
implemented in Brazil were inadequate. The main goal of the federal
government was to transfer the responsibility of funding basic educa-
tion to the state and municipal level. While developed states in the
industrial southwest were able to take this responsibility, in the rural
Northeast, the responsibility was left to poor counties (municipios)
with limited administrative capacity and few independent sources of
revenue. In 1994, the percentage of enrollment (Children 7-14) in
municipios schools was 46% in the Northeast and only 19.6% in the
Southeast (IBGE, 1985). In effect, many of Northeast regions find
their financial responsibility for schooling an unwelcome burden.
(b) The transfer of public funds to the private economy
The transfer3of public funds to private schools contributed to a
decrease in the already narrow resources of public education. Public
authorities at all levels of the Brazilian government transferred large
quantities of public funds to private schools in the form of student
scholarships, direct subventions and agreement to “purchase” places
in private schools for public schools students. This transfer includes
also the provision to private schools of publicly paid teachers. In
Bahia for instance, 40 % of all public educational expenditures in the
state may go the private schools (Plank, 1990). Arguing that public
schools are too inefficient to carry out a relevant learning process,
supporters of private schools, including representatives of religious
organizations and owners of large private institutions, lobby for main-
taining the status-quo, or for additional public resources. Given the
lack of resources in public schools, these funds could have been used
for imperative infrastructure work.4
The production of textbooks is an other way of financing the private
economy by funds intended for use in public education. The produc-
tion of textbooks is dominated by a few big publishers from the
Southeast region and represents the main source of revenue to the
publishers. In fact, 55 percent of the book market in Brazil is related
Education and Society
44 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
to textbooks. In 1997 the federal government spent almost 270 million
US dollars buying 100 million textbooks (Salgueiro, 1998). Although
one must agree with Altbach (1983) that nothing has ever replaced
printed materials as the key element in the appropriation of literacy,
it can be argued that textbooks should combine good instructional
material and sociocultural relevance for the local context. With few
resources, and by recycling advertisement and newspaper material,
Brazilian school teachers already had a long experience in producing
their own classroom materials, particularly in rural areas. By redi-
recting this important financial state expenditure from private pub-
lishers to local public schools, it would be possible to organize an effi-
cient local textbook production. However, such “structural adjust-
ment” of the private sector will probably encounter strong opposition
from powerful groups within Brazilian society.
Apart from textbooks which remain only a medium to reach educa-
tional goals, it is the meaning of schooling for rural children that has
to be addressed. If rural schools are to equip children to develop their
communities and to work in rural settings, it seems clear that the
focus of such preparation will need to shift away from isolation in a
classroom, toward greater interaction with everyday life in local com-
(c) Non-governmental and multilateral organization involve-
We can distinguish between the actions of small non-governmental
organizations and multilateral and states agencies. For the former,
the focus is usually marginalized groups such as street children,
women, and inhabitants of favelas (precarious housing). The educa-
tional programs, implemented by these small entities are community
based programs that contribute substantially to improved living con-
ditions for those who are excluded from participation in mainstream
Multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and USAID became
more active in education programs in the 1980s. They usually pro-
mote big projects and support the Brazilian government actions. An
important educational project of the World Bank was recently imple-
mented in Brazil. Thus, between 1993 and 1996, more than 300 mil-
lion dollars were used to sustain basic education in the Northeast.
Sixty-two millions textbooks were distributed and almost 200,000
teachers and principals were trained. Thirteen thousand classrooms
were also renovated (Projecto Nordeste, 1997). The main focus of the
project seems to be the material and physical inputs. Although class-
45Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
rooms and textbooks are the main instruments in reaching educa-
tional goals, the goals themselves have to be addressed. Goals such as
all children (ages 5-14) attending school, basic literacy skills for stu-
dents graduating from primary public education and completed basic
training for all teachers must be considered in a project aimed at
improving basic education in Northeast Brasil. Another concern with
the World Bank approach to educational issues is that it obscures the
political nature of schooling by wrapping it in the flag of quality, man-
agement, and costs-benefits measurement (Akkari and Perez, 1998).
With a two-tiered educational system, students’ results in Brazil
are not consistent with the country’s economic growth. Repetition
rates in Brazil as well as in the whole Latin American region, are
among the highest in the world, with the average student spending
nearly seven years in primary school while completing only five
grades. As shown on Table 1 (see appendix), nearly one out of every
two students repeats the first year of school in Brazil. This high rate
of repetition may well be a sign of low quality in schooling. In the
Northeast region, we find a high degree of distortion (Grade-age). In
basic education (ensemo Fundamental 7-14 years), 70.6% of the stu-
dents were older than the expected average age of their grade
(Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Censos demograficos).
A study carried out in the capital of Rio Grande del Norte state
found that the cost of drop-out in primary public schools represented
16.2 percent of total expenditure on education, and exceeded the state
public expenditure on secondary education in the city (Projecto
Nordeste, 1997).
Table I shows the extent of the low retention rates in Brazilian
schools compared with other Latin American nations. Only 34% of
schoolchildren in Brazil complete sixth grade. Completion rates are
also low. In 1994, the BIRD and Gertulio Vargas Foundation estimat-
ed that from 30.5 million school children enrolled in first grade in
Brazil5, 17 million children (more than the Australian population)
abandon school before reaching the eighth grade.
Brazil will thus enter the 21st century with an estimated rate of 16
percent of adults and young people without the minimum ability to
read or write, in spite of the 1988 Constitution determination to over-
come illiteracy and universalize elementary education during the ten
years following its promulgation.
School attendance is strongly linked to income. Data from the
Education and Society
46 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
National Household Sample Survey during the eighties showed a gen-
eral positive evolution of school attendance rates for all classes of fam-
ily monthly income. Nevertheless, children in the richest families
attained a school attendance of 98 percent, while 25 percent of the
poorest children still were not attending school (Instituto Brasileiro
de Geografia e Estatística, Censos demograficos)
Comparative studies of students’ results highlight the low perfor-
mance of Brazilian children. A 1992 study6of maths and science
achievement showed that students from China, Israel, Jordan, Korea
and Taiwan scored significantly better than Brazilian 13 years-olds
from Sâo Paulo and Fortaleza. Only students from Mozambique,
which was recovering from a long civil war, scored lower than
Brazilian students (Puryear, 1996).
Education is presented as the number one priority of the Brazilian
Government particularly during election periods. The Brazilian pri-
mary and secondary education system comprises 44 million students
and one million teachers, distributed in more than two hundred and
fifty thousand schools (Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas
Educacionais. 1998). It is critical for the country’s development to
address the needs and challenges of this gigantic structure.
In this paper, it is argued that the model of institutionalized public
basic schooling, presented as universally desirable in educational lit-
erature is diverging in the Third world context from the traditional
model of developed countries. Using the Brazilian case as a base for
our argument, we can find evidence of a two-tiered educational sys-
tem: a well organized private schooling for the elite and a depressed
public schooling for the majority. In addition, educational policies at
both the federal and state levels contribute to taking away badly
needed funds from public education. Considering the obvious segre-
gated housing with Brazilian poor living in rural areas or urban fave-
las, and the upper and middle class living in an urban neighbourhood,
Brazilian children are likely to undergo different and divergent mod-
els of socialization. Three million children (7-14 years) who were not
in school in 1995 (Negri, 1997) experienced a type of socialization
which had a little input from educational institutions; it was the
street culture which sustained their emotional and developmental
The improvement of basic public education in Brazil will be not pos-
sible without structural re-allocation of human and material
resources. Additional funds for public schools are likely to attract7
47Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
middle class families to public schools. It is a first step in the recon-
struction of the ‘escola popular’ advocated by Freire (1991). This nec-
essary redistribution will surely encounter significant opposition from
those who benefit from the perpetuation by a group of the elite (Sader,
The increasingly wide gap between Brazilian aspirations to join the
rank of developed countries (“primer mundo”) and the wretched
poverty in which a growing number of Brazilians live poses serious
questions for the country’s future. Extreme poverty was slightly
reduced with the end of hyperinflation accomplished by the policy of
the Cardozo government (plano real). However, the educational debt
which we considered would still impact the educational system
because the logic of a two-tiered educational system has been deeply
It has been nearly forty years since Brazil turned its attention to
the massive task of providing schooling for all the Brazilian children.
Over the course of these years, the struggle to develop the political
will, the resources, and the educational strategies required to meet
this challenge have been, at best, partially successful. While it is pos-
sible to point to the improvements in both access and outcomes for a
segment of the youth population (whose educational needs previously
had simply been ignored), the overpowering fact is that the Brazilian
educational system remains currently a two-tiered system that dis-
tribute its benefits inequitably among its students. Social class, eth-
nicity8 and regionality prevail as powerful predictors of school experi-
ences. The rhetoric of equal educational opportunity often masks the
persuasive economic, political. and social control inherent in the cul-
tural and ideological practice of schooling.
1. In Bahia, the Federal Government spent several millions of dollars to
save a private banking group while more than 20% of children did not
attend school in that state.
2. In the USA, the average base salary for full-time public school teachers
was $34,153. Private school teachers averaged $21,968 (Robinson, 1998).
3. Ibarrola (1996) pointed out that the growth of private education in Chile
up to 42%, includes half of the “private” schools financed with public
4. When the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire accepted the administration
of the public school system in Sâo Paulo in 1989, he found the infra-
Education and Society
48 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
structure of schools in a very precarious situation (Freire, 1991). Many
schools required urgent repairs to guarantee students’ physical safety.
5. In Mexico, for example, nearly half of the students who enter the pri-
mary cycle fail to complete it, leaving them without adequate literacy
skills (Puryear. 1996).
6. Another comparative study of math and science achievement, found in
1992 that 13 year olds from Argentina, Colombia, the Dominica Republic
and Venezuela, excepting those from elite private schools, scored below
countries like Thailand and the USA. Public school students performed
satisfactorily only in one country Costa Rica (Schiefelbien 1995).
7. It is interesting to note that most of the educators working in higher
pedagogical institutions attended public schools while the majority of
their children are currently enrolled in private schools.
8. In Brazil, the majority of the excluded are among the descendants of the
country’s massive former slave population, the ultimately excluded
class, upon whose backs concentrations of great private wealth were
built (Swift, 1997).
Akkari, A. and Perez, S. (1998) ‘Educational research in Latin America: Review
and perspectives Education Policy Archives, 6, 7. Available on-line: http://
Akkari. A. (1997) ‘Disparidades educativas e praticas pedagogicas en uma
regiâo de Minas-Gerais-Brasil’ Cadernos para o Professor, 5. 5, 8-12.
Altbach, P. G. (1983) ‘Key issues in textbook provision in the Third World’
Prospects, 13, 315325.
Eisenstadt, S.N. (1998) ‘Modernity and the construction of collective identities’
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, XXXIX, 1, 13 8-15 8.
Freire, P. (199 ])A educacao na cidade. Sâo Paulo: Cortez Editora.
Gondim, A. (1998) ‘Para vira foco de impumdade no campo’ Folha de Sâo Paulo,
April 13, 1998, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatìstica. Censos
demograficos 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980. IBGE.
Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais (1996) Sinope
Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais (1998) School manage-
ment system: Brasilia: Instituto Naclonal de Estudos e Pesquisas
Mesquida, P. (1994) Hegemonia Norte-Americana e educacao protestante no
Brasil. Julz de Fora: Editora UFJF.
MEC (1997) Censo do professor. Brasilia: MEC.
Negri, B. (1997) Ofimdo de manutencao e desenvolvimento do ensino fundamen-
tal e de valorizacao do magisterio. Brasilia: Instituto Nacional de Estudos e
Pesquisas Educacionais.
Plank. D. (1987) ‘The expansion of education: a Brazilian case study’
Comparative Education Review, 32. 361-76.
49Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
Plank, D, (1990) ‘The politics of basic education reform in Brazil’. Comparative
Educational Review, 34.338-359.
Projecto Nordeste (1997) Boletin tecnico, Ano 2 numero 17.
Puryear, J. M. (1996) Education in Latin America: Problems and challenges.
Working Group on Educational Reform. New York: Council on Foreign
Ramirez, F. O. and Boll, J.(1987) ‘The political construction of mass schooling:
European origins and worldwide institutionalization’ Sociology of Education,
60. 2-17.
Reimers, F. (1990) Education for All in Latin America in the XXI Century: The
Challenge of Jomtien. Development Discussion Paper No. 358. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard Institute for International Development. September 1990.
Reimers, F. (1991) ‘The impact of economic stabilization and adjustment in
Latin America’ Comparative Education Review, 35, 325-339.
Robinson, S. P. (1998) Building knowledge for a nation of learners. A framework
for education research. Available on-line: http: //www.ed. gov/ office/ OERI/
Sader, E. (1998) ‘Le pacte des élites bresiliènnes’ Le monde Diplomatique, 6 octo-
bre 1998. 535. 67.
Schiefelbien, E. (1995) Characteristics of the teaching profession and the quali-
ty of education in Latin America. The major project of education in Latin
America and the Caribbean 24. Santiago: UNESCO.
Salgueiro, S. (1998, 22 April) ‘Governo aumenta gastos com livros didacticos’
Gazeta Mercantil, 21318, p. 5
Singh. R. D. (1992) ‘Under-investment. low economic return to education, and
the schooling of rural children: some evidence from Brazil’ Economic
Development and Cultural Change, 40, 645-64.
Swift, A. (1997) Children for citizenship of street and working children in Brazil.
Nottingham: Educational Heretics Press.
Torres, C. A. and Puiggros, A. (1997) (eds.) Latin American Education.
Comparative Perspectives. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
UNESCO (1971) Conferencia de ministros de educación y ministros encargados
ele cinfecias y tecnología en relación con el desarollo de América Latina y el
Caribe. Venezuela, December 6-15, Caracas (mimeographed).
Wolf, L., Schiefelbein, E. and Valenzuela, J. (1994) Improving the quality of pri-
mary educatin in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington DC: The
World Bank.
Wood, C. and De carvalho, J. A. M. (1988) The demography of inequality in
Brazil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Education and Society
50 Vol. 17, No. 1, 1999
Table 1: Latin America repetition and completion rates in
primary education in 1989 by percentage
Country First grade Sixth grade Sixth grade non-
repeaters graduates repeating gaduates
Argentina 31 83 17
Bolivia 33 47 9
Brazil 53 34 1
Chile 10 85 41
Colombia 31 87 26
Cost Rica 22 79 31
Dom. Rep. 58 38 3
Ecuador 33 81 34
El Salvador 54 50 4
Guatemala 55 59 9
Honduras 53 66 12
Mexico 33 77 21
Peru 28 76 21
Panama - 86 33
Paraguay 33 71 20
Uruguay 15 91 54
Venezuela 28 62 14
Source: Wolf, Schiefelbein and Valerizuela (1994).
51Akkari, Mass Schooling in Brazil
... A constituição de 1988 limitou, teoricamente, o repasse de recursos públicos para o ensino privado. Entretanto, importantes repasses indiretos ainda existem, especi-ficamente por meio da compra maciça, pelas escolas públicas, de manuais escolares junto de algumas grandes editoras privadas (Akkari, 1999). ...
... During the second half of the twentieth century, education has been taken very much as an investment in human capital, with long-term benefits both to the individual who is educated and to the public at large. The story of education has been also the story of post-colonial government control of education for purposes of nation building and economic development (Akkari, 1999). ...
Full-text available
This paper investigates the educational development in the Middle East and North Africa, drawing on data from different international and national institutions. The paper begins with a review of similarities between countries within the region, and continues by investigating the situation of basic education, literacy rates and quality of education. In the third section, issues of inequality between public and private education are discussed. The paper concludes by outlining future educational challenges in the region.
... A constituição de 1988 limitou, teoricamente, o repasse de recursos públicos para o ensino privado. Entretanto, importantes repasses indiretos ainda existem, especi-ficamente por meio da compra maciça, pelas escolas públicas, de manuais escolares junto de algumas grandes editoras privadas (Akkari, 1999). Existe também uma possibilidade de circulação dos alunos entre as diferentes redes. ...
Full-text available
No Brasil, mais que em outros países do Sul, a escola constitui um produto social desigualmente distribuído. Seu acesso é modulado não apenas por múltiplos padrões distintivos (categoria socioeconômica, sexo, etnicidade, local de residência?), como também pelo tipo de rede escolar freqüentado (pública, particular). Este artigo analisa a constituição histórica e progressiva de uma escolarização em várias velocidades. O discurso político republicano, que insiste sobre a função homogeneizadora e igualitária da escola que socializa em comum e fabrica cidadãos iguais, foi se esvaziando progressivamente de sua substância. A heterogeneidade provocada pela atual fragmentação do sistema escolar brasileiro em várias redes reproduz, acentuando-as, as desigualdades sociais e compromete de modo durável o desenvolvimento econômico e social desse país.
Full-text available
Describes the historical context of educational research in Latin America and focuses on the theoretical frameworks applied to educational research in the area. Identifies the primary institutions involved in educational research in Latin America and suggests priorities for future research. (SLD)
This paper analyses in a comparative framework the relations between construction of collective identity and those of state-civil society relations in three modern settings—namely, in a general way Europe, the United States and Japan—the three major modern industrialized societies, with a brief comparative glance at Latin America.This analysis is based on the assumption first that collective identity is not naturally generated but socially constructed: it is the intentional or non-intentional consequence of interactions which on their turn are socially patterned and structured. Collective identity depends on special processes of induction of the members in the collectivity, ranging from various rites of initiation to various collective rituals, in which the attribute of "similarity" among its members, as against the strangeness, the differences, the distinction of the other, is symbolically constructed and defined. Constructing boundaries and constructing a basis for trust solidarity and communal equality are two aspects of such processes.
L'A. examine la divergence entre la rhetorique de reforme de l'enseignement au Bresil et la realite educationnelle; il montre que le droit a l'education de base pour tous n'est pas respecte; et que les facteurs geographiques, socio-economiques et politiques entravent la realisation de l'egalite des chances
Incl. bibliographical references
Examines, on the basis of a rich, in-depth household level data set gathered from rural Brazil, a few major economic aspects of schooling of farm operators in small farm households and the major economic factors that influence the allocation of resources by households to increase the human capital of their children. The study provides estimates of the magnitude of the economic returns to schooling, the "allocative' and the "direct' (or "worker') components of the productivity effect of schooling in the setting of a rather traditional farming system practiced by small farmers in Brazil. Second, it evaluates the economic factors that influence parents' decisions about the schooling of their children, in particular the effects of child quantity and the economic value of child labor services to households, the schooling of parents, the income and wealth effects, and the use of modern farm inputs (agricultural technology) on child quality (schooling). -from Author