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Remarkable advances have been registered in the Brazilian educational system in the last ten years – particularly in the last five years – but we are still far from where we want to get and from the situation we can and should ensure. This is the idea that best summarizes what is described in this National Education for All Evaluation Report – EFA 2000.

Compared to other countries at the same or even lower economic development level, Brazil has a long way to go. Compared to the situation one decade ago, however, considerable progress has been made. The major reorganization of the Brazilian educational system and the close collaboration among the three levels of government – the federal, state and municipal levels – have ensured more rapid, innovative and effective changes, particularly since 1995.

The main objective, around which all the efforts made by the government have been organized, was fully assimilated by the population at large, namely, more equity in education as a starting point for building a less unequal and fairer society.

The results of this mobilization effort, which attached the highest priority to education in the Country’s agenda, are encouraging and confirm that the actions carried out so far have been extremely rewarding and should be maintained. The policy of universalizing the coverage of the primary education system produced very positive results. In the 1991-1998 period, the net schooling rate of the population aged 7-14 soared from 86% to 95.3%. As a result, Brazil has managed to achieve and even go beyond the goal set out in the Ten-Year Education for All Plan, which was to expand the coverage of the school-age population to at least 94% by the year 2003.

However, the primary education system in Brazil is still marked by age/grade gaps caused by high repetition rates that have deeply affected the system as a whole and by the low coverage of secondary education. Although almost 19 million of our adolescents in the 15-17 age bracket are enrolled in primary schools, only about 32% are attending secondary schools.

Nevertheless, the constant and continued advances registered by successive school censuses are impressive and deserve special mention, particularly in what regards three aspects. The first one is the huge expansion of the system, which significantly improved the access of children and youths to education and shortened by five years the time required for the Country to achieve one of the EFA goals. This is a direct result of the Fund for Primary Education Development and for Enhancing the Value of the Teaching Profession (Fundef) and of the All Children at School campaign, which consisted in a huge mobilization effort in 1997 involving governors, educators and parents. Established in 1996, Fundef consolidated responsibilities and jurisdictions among the three levels of government and, above all, defined appropriate criteria for sharing funds earmarked for the educational system between states and municipalities, according to the number of students actually enrolled in the system.

The expansion of the primary education system took place in a very differentiated manner. It was slow for the 1st-4th grade segment – 6.3% between 1994 and 1998 – and is expected to become even slower from now on, which is good. In fact, we still have a surplus in the first four grades of about 60% of the enrolments in relation to all children and adolescents aged 7-14 as a result of the high repetition rates registered in the past, as mentioned before. We can expect, therefore, the qualitative improvement of the system to bring down enrolment rates in the initial grades, since the graduation of students to the 5th grade will be higher than the rate of enrollments of new students in the 1st grade.

For the 5th-8th grade segment, however, the system was expanded at a very fast pace – about 21% in the 1994-1998 period – reflecting not only the larger coverage of the population by the primary education system, but also qualitative advances at this level that tend to correct the age-grade gap in a very short term.

The most significant datum, however, is the evolution in enrollments in high schools, which have increased remarkably: 41.2% between 1994 and 1998. In addition to the fact that more adolescents are completing primary education, an increasing number of students completing this cycle at a lower age and who can move on to higher levels of learning was also registered. In addition to these two factors, another phenomenon leading to the fast expansion of the secondary education system is the higher demand from the youth for more schooling, as a result, among other factors, of an increasingly competitive labor market.

The second aspect deserving mention in the Brazilian educational scenario in the last decade is the significant reduction in regional differences, both in what regards access to education and its quality. The expansion of the educational system in the North and Northeast Regions was much larger than the national average. Although global indicators for the coverage provided by the primary and secondary education systems in the two regions are still much lower than the national average, the more favorable evolution registered in recent years points to a trend toward less marked differences in the future.

It’s particularly important to take into account what happened in the Northeast, where indicators have always been much lower than the national average. Between 1994 and 1998, the primary education system in the Northeast grew by 24%, against 12% in the Country as a whole. Enrollments in the 5th-8th grades increased by 34% in northeastern schools, against 21% nationally. With regard to secondary education, the ratio was 42% in the Northeast against the Brazilian average of 41%. The same positive evolution can be observed in the performance of the students, as measured by the National Basic Education Evaluation System (SAEB). The absolute grades of students in the Northeast are still lower than the national average, but they grew more than the latter between 1995 and 1997.

Finally, the third aspect to be highlighted is the strong and rapid process of "municipalization" of the primary education system and the growing control by the states of the secondary education system, as provided for in the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law of 1996, which is responsible, together with Constitutional Amendment n. 14 – which established Fundef – for the legal reorganization of the Brazilian educational system. In 1997, there were 18 million students in state-managed elementary schools and 12 million enrolled in municipal schools. In 1999, there are 16 million students in both state-managed and municipal schools. The total increase in enrollment rates in high schools in the 1994-1998 period was 41.2%, but the same increase in the state-managed school network alone reached the percentage of 50.2% over the same period.

Today, Brazil offers enough openings to ensure the enrollment of all school-age children and adolescents. The problems that still exist are related to the above-mentioned excessive repetition rate, as a result of which students are retained in the initial grades. At the primary and secondary education levels, among the 44 million students enrolled there are about 7 million with over 17 years of age who should, therefore, have completed their basic education.

The main challenge for Brazil, therefore, is much more one of improving the quality of education than increasing the number of openings available. It is imperative to invest in teacher education, training and remuneration, in materials for them to use in the classroom, and in programs aimed at speeding up the learning process to correct the age/grade gap, which have been implemented in all states already.

As a matter of fact, this is what the Brazilian government has been doing over the last five years. The most successful example of this agenda is Fundef, which in only one year has brought about important changes, such as an average 13% raise in the wages paid to teachers throughout the country, and a raise of 50% for teachers of the municipal school system of the Northeast, which accounts for two-thirds of all enrollments in elementary schools in the region. The number of lay teachers – those who have not received the minimum training required for teaching – was reduced to about 73,000, as opposed to 300,000 just a few years ago.

Programs for training teachers and education professionals have been relying on technological resources such as the TV Escola (School TV) and training courses with the presence of instructors, most of which organized by the Ministry of Education itself. One of these programs alone, the Nordeste Project, has provided training and refresher courses to 250,000 professionals in the Northeast. With a view to implementing the TV Escola program, the Federal Administration, in partnership with states and municipalities, trained over 200,000 teachers in the 1996-1998 period. In order to consolidate the program, the Remote Education Secretariat of the Ministry of Education stepped up the production of videos that are more in tune with national curricular references and, in partnership with state-run systems, established a permanent qualification policy to make sure teachers know how to operate the equipment and educators incorporate the programs being aired by TV Escola and its printed materials into the teaching project of their institutions. The National Information Technology Program in Education (Proinfo), which was launched in 1997, has already trained over 1,400 multipliers and 20,000 teachers, exceeding its initial goal

The support provided to teachers in their classroom work was reinforced by two very important initiatives: changes in the policy adopted for textbooks and libraries and the definition of Curriculum Parameters and References for all levels of basic education, indigenous education and adolescent and adult education. Over 1.4 million copies of the Curriculum Parameters were distributed to teachers throughout the Country and 300 thousand more, for secondary education, will be delivered in the next few months. TV Escola has produced a series of videos and publications to disseminate the Parameters and guide educators in their implementation.

Regarding the textbooks being provided free of charge by the Ministry of Education to students in the 1st-8th grade in all public schools in the Country, the government took two measures in the last two years: it expanded the coverage, which so far was restricted to the four first grades of the primary education cycle, and improved their quality through a rigorous evaluation process. In 1999 alone, over 109 million textbooks were distributed, in addition to 35 thousand collections of books for children and adolescents and 20 thousand collections for teachers’ libraries that were sent to schools.

The priority given to teachers’ training will be maintained in coming years. The National Education Guidelines and Framework Law provides that all basic education teachers are to have a college degree by the year 2007. It is a huge task, considering that about 600 thousand teachers still don’t have a college degree today. In 1999, the Ministry of Education prepared curriculum guidelines for teachers’ training courses and invested heavily in remote courses as a means to facilitate the action of states and municipalities.

The so-called catch-up classes, in turn, constitute an innovation recently made available to schools with students lagging behind in their education, who receive special classes with specific materials to reinforce their learning.

Another aspect to be highlighted is the fact that the effort to ensure universal access to primary education has become an efficient strategy to eradicate illiteracy. According to the last survey available, which was carried out in 1997, the illiteracy rate in the population aged 15 or more dropped from 20.1% in 1991 to 14.7%. For the first time, a drop in the absolute number of illiterate individuals was registered, from 19,200,000 to 15,500,000 over the same period. Obviously, these figures are unacceptable and represent a great challenge to the Brazilian government and society; however, the rapid decline in illiteracy rates among younger age groups is a positive trend that clearly shows that the phenomenon is related to the lack of access to Primary Education for the population with over 40 years of age, which is precisely the one that did not benefit from the expansion of the educational system.

As a matter of fact, the illiteracy rate among adolescents aged 15-19 dropped from 12.1% in 1991 to 6% in 1996. Similar results were registered for individuals in the 20-24 age group, whose illiteracy rate fell from 12.2% to 7.1% over the same period. For the group aged 25-29, a trend toward a rapid decline in the illiteracy rate has also been observed. These facts show that illiteracy is mainly concentrated in older age brackets. The regional concentration of illiteracy is another feature of this problem, which reflects and reproduces inter-regional socioeconomic inequalities. In the 1990s, the pace of decline in illiteracy rates was not the same, although the trend can be perceived in all regions of the country.

Aware of this problem, the government has expanded programs for the education of youths and adults, so as to provide educational opportunities to all individuals who had no access to the school system at the proper age. Actions focused on eradicating illiteracy, such as the Solidarity in Literacy Actions Program, are part of a set of policies aimed at increasing the availability of special primary education opportunities through the expansion of professional education programs. It is a huge joint effort being made at all governmental levels and by non-governmental organizations, businesspersons and unions. As a result of this cooperation, illiteracy rates are falling at a fast pace and the average schooling of the population has tended to increase. Between 1990 and 1996, average schooling years rose from 5.4 to 5.7 among the male population and from 4.9 to 6.0 among women.

There is no doubt that the improvements observed in the educational status of women represent one of the main phenomena registered in Brazil in the 1990s, confirming that with regard to access to the educational system at its different levels, gender discrimination has been eliminated. The higher school drop-out rates among male children and adolescents, however, have drawn the attention of the government, which has launched minimum income programs and actions to fight child labor to address the issue. All these measures are intended to ensure the commitment made by the Brazilian Government and society: making sure that all children attend school.

We are sure that this report will reinforce what we said in the beginning: we are far from where we want to get, but we have a clear destiny on the horizon and the means and determination to fulfil it. We cannot be shy in our ambitions. We want all the Brazilian children and adolescents to attend school and to have a quality education. This is not a task of one government, but rather one to be carried out by society at large, because this is the best way to fight poverty and inequalities and to build a fairer society, where solidarity prevails.

The Jomtien commitments, which were reaffirmed in all conferences held thereafter and rephrased in the Hamburg Declaration and in the Agenda for the Future, clearly show how Brazil has been addressing the challenge of promoting education for all with quality and equity. Considering the progress made in the 1990s, we are confident that the Country will manage to eradicate illiteracy and ensure universal access to basic education at the close of the Paulo Freire Decade.

It should be highlighted that this report was produced as a result of a comprehensive set of participative evaluation activities carried out at regular intervals involving all governmental agencies responsible for basic education – Ministries and State and Municipal Education Secretariats – and many Non-Governmental Organizations, in addition to the National Education Council. It is, therefore, a report that incorporates the results of a permanent evaluation and continued mobilization process set in motion by the Brazilian government.

Paulo Renato Souza Minister of Education

Brief description of the evaluation process carried out for the EFA 2000

Rather than an isolated event, the evaluation that made it possible to produce this report about Brazil for EFA 2000 is part of the permanent and increasingly strict follow-up process that the Brazilian Government has been implementing in recent years to measure results attained in different programs and levels of education.

In fact, this permanent evaluation process, which is being expanded and consolidated, is one of the most important elements of the Education for All project, as it provides an objective prognosis of problems and can be used to guide the definition and review of priorities for educational policies.

The evaluation of educational results achieved in Brazil over the 1990s in implementing the goals established at the Jomtien Conference relied on the strong support of the international bodies that took part in that initiative, particularly UNICEF and UNESCO. Both funded consultancy actions and studies that were very helpful in the preparation of this report and acted as partners in the performance of all activities related to this process.

It is also important to highlight the contribution provided by non-governmental organizations engaged in educational actions, such as CENPEC, Ação Educativa and the Ayrton Senna Institute (IAS), among others. The emergence of an important set of NGOs dealing with education-related issues on a priority basis, as a result of initiatives taken by different social segments, is one of the most positive phenomena registered in Brazil over the last decade. Another equally favorable trend is the fact that the corporate sector has become more concerned with the performance of the educational system and has been collaborating with public authorities in their efforts to improve the quality of education.

The empowerment of organizations linked to the so-called Third Sector, as a result of society’s response to a more effective action of the three levels of government – the federal, state and municipal levels – resulted in a comprehensive political and social mobilization for the development of education. The synergism brought about by this innovative movement explains the educational advances registered in Brazil in the 1990s, as will be shown in this report.

Therefore, the national mobilization for the evaluation of EFA 2000 involved many governmental and non-governmental actors and was not restricted to a specific moment in time. The debate on education in Brazil has been a virtually continuous and particularly intense effort since the mid-1980s. Largely concentrated in the National Congress, this debate has focused on proposals for changing the educational law. Initially, this mobilization was brought about by the drafting of the new Brazilian Constitution, which was promulgated in October of 1988. It was then followed by discussions on the bill of the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law (LDB), which involved a broad participation of all sectors engaged in educational actions. The Law, whose number is 9,394, was finally passed in December 1996.

In 1990, the Ministry of Education led the first mobilization around the EFA, when it launched the National Literacy and Citizenship Program (PNAC) as a result of the commitments assumed in Jomtien. This mobilization effort, which was resumed and expanded when the Ten-Year Education For All Plan was prepared, between 1993 and 1994, involved the three levels of government and many sectors linked to the educational community. However, the PNAC could not be consolidated and continued because of the political crisis that led to the change that took place in Brazil’s federal administration in the second semester of 1992.

The agenda of commitments assumed at Jomtien was resumed with increased vigor in 1993, when the Ministry of Education spearheaded the initiative to launch the Ten-Year Education Plan, which would become the main reference for the EFA policy in Brazil. Through working groups, local meetings and regional congresses, this movement sought to involve different governmental agencies responsible for basic education – the Ministry of Education and State and Municipal Education Secretariats – and various Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) engaged in education projects. This mobilization led to a national conference, which was held between August 29 and September 2 of 1994 and was attended by about 1,600 participants from all regions of the Country. In addition to evaluating the educational situation in the Country and to presenting innovative projects for primary education, this conference developed the set of goals that constitute the framework of the Brazilian EFA educational policy. This first national plan became known as the Ten-Year Education for All Plan.

In 1997, after the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law became effective, the Federal Administration and the Municipal and State Education Secretariats, together with Non-government Organizations, saw it fit to make a new evaluation and, as a result, defined goals for a new project: the National Education Plan for the next decade, which is still being reviewed by the National Congress and will be implemented as a law, as opposed to the previous Ten-Year Plan.

This report includes the results of this permanent evaluation process and of a continuous mobilization. In addition, the Federal Administration set up a national committee made up of representatives of State and Municipal Education Secretariats specifically in charge of dealing with matters related to the EFA 2000. Finally, it also organized a national seminar in Brasilia, which was held on 10-11 June 1999, for the purpose of analyzing and evaluating the present situation, where research reports and documents prepared by the Government and Non-governmental Organizations were presented and discussed.

Therefore, being the result of a broad range of participative evaluation activities, this report respects all the aspects included in the Term of Reference proposed by UNESCO. The order of presentation, however, was changed and some topics were merged, so as to reflect specific features of the Brazilian situation. With the same purpose in mind, a section with Preliminary Remarks about the unique features of the Brazilian Educational System was included, so as to facilitate the understanding of the set of educational data and policies described herein.

Preliminary Remarks

All the Brazilian School System, except for higher education institutions, is predominantly public. In public institutions, including universities, education is completely free of charge. The percentage of students enrolled in public schools has been steadily growing over the last ten years and the rate of enrollments in the private sector has been falling – again, except in higher education institutions.

Table 1 – Distribution of enrollments by level of education and participation in the public network – Brazil – 1998

Educational Level/Modality Total Enrollment Public Network

% in the public network


Literacy Classes

Elementary School – 1st-4th grade

Elementary School – 5th-8th grade

Secondary School

Special Education(1)

Youth and Adult Education

Higher Education





























Source: INEP/Ministry of Education

1 – Number of students with special needs, who have special treatment in special schools or special classes in regular schools. Disabled students attending regular schools not included.

It is important to highlight the constant increase in the percentage of children attending public schools, a fact that reveals the efforts being made by the Government to attract the low income population to the school system. A high coverage rate by private schools in a developing country tends to indicate the marginalization of the low income population from the school system, which is mostly made up of the children and adolescents.

From the standpoint of its internal organization, the present Brazilian school system resulted from important changes introduced in 1970, 1988 and 1996. Up till the 1970s, the system comprised four basic levels for different age groups, while compulsory education was restricted to the 4-year elementary school. (Chart 1.1).

Chart 1.1 – Framework of the Brazilian Educational System before the reform of 1971



Age Group


Elementary School

Lower High School

High School

Higher Education

3 years

4 years

4 years

3 years


4-6 years

7-10 years

11-14 years

15-17 years

After the age of 18

The first important change was introduced in 1970, when a movement led by educators managed to expand the compulsory education cycle: the primary and lower secondary levels of education were merged and became the so-called 1o Grau (First Degree Education), and the upper secondary level became the 2o Grau (Second Degree Education) (Chart 1.2). As a result, the compulsory education cycle was expanded to eight years, although the unified terminology did not correspond to an integrated organization of the eight grades. The first four grades continued to be taught by a single teacher, who did not have to be a college graduate, but just a teacher trained to teach at this level. The four final grades of the 1o Grau and 2o Grau continued to be divided in subjects taught by different teachers, who had to be college graduates, at least formally. The education cycle was then organized as follows:

Chart 1.2 – Framework of the Brazilian Educational System after the reform of 1971



Age Group


1o Grau (compulsory)

2o Grau

Higher Education

3 years

8 years

3 years


4-6 years

7-14 years

15-17 years

over 17

This change and the resistance of educators to accept a formal division of compulsory education in two cycles has made it difficult to compare Brazilian indicators with those produced by other countries. The main differences are the long duration of the compulsory primary education cycle – 8 years – and the fact that it begins at the age of 7 and not 6, as in most countries. In order to at least facilitate comparisons of the data presented herein, the indicators for primary education have been broken down for the four initial grades and the four final grades in this report.

One must also consider that although primary education is formally compulsory, the rate of students who concluded the eight grades was very low initially. Despite the fact that it grew substantially as time went by, it is difficult to compare this rate with those prevailing in other countries where only 4, 5 or 6 years of universal schooling are required. On the other hand, statistics on illiteracy, which comprise all individuals from the age of six, do not reflect the educational efforts being made in Brazil, since the compulsory schooling cycle begins at the age of seven.

The second major change was promoted by the Constitution of 1988, which included the country’s network of day-care centers, that is, institutions dealing with children aged from 0 to 3, in the educational system, and not in the social welfare system, as in the past. Day-care programs were not even included in education statistics – a procedure that still prevails, reflecting how the education of children is segmented in the country. The 1998 School Census was the first one to provide information on this sector, but only partially, because it surveyed only day-care centers of schools that are also engaged in pre-school activities. For this reason, this part of the Brazilian report is less well-structured than the remaining ones.

Finally, the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law, of 1996, changed the organization of the different cycles, as well as their names. All the school system – from day-care until the end of the secondary cycle – began to be referred to as basic education, and its subdivisions were also changed (Chart 1.3).

Chart 1.3 – Framework of the Brazilian Educational System – Law n. 9,394/96




Age Group

Basic Education





Higher Education

Early childhood education
  • Day-Care
  • Pre-school

Compulsory Primary Education

Secondary Education

Courses by field studies


4 years

3 years

8 years

3 years



0-3 years

4-6 years

7-14 years

15-17 years

18 and over

This unique terminology, particularly the one adopted for basic education, often gives rise to confusion when comparisons are made with other countries. Moreover, Brazil has additional educational programs, such as: Youth and Adult Education – EJA, Special Education, Indigenous Education and Vocational Training.

Another unique feature of the Brazilian educational system to be taken into account is the fact that it is extremely decentralized. Primary education, day-care centers, pre-school institutions and secondary education have always been a responsibility of states and municipalities in Brazil. At these educational levels, the central government plays a normative role – by defining the main guidelines to be followed by the systems, and a redistributive and provisioning role – by providing grants and subsidies to lessen social and regional inequalities. After the Constitution of 1988 was promulgated, the municipalities became much more autonomous and were allowed to organize their own educational systems, regardless of any supervision by the state or federal administration.

Since the states and municipalities are responsible for compulsory education, it is now much more difficult to coordinate the system for many reasons, including the lack of legal criteria for establishing each level of governmental responsibility. Constitutional Amendment n. 14, promulgated on 12 September 1996, defined clearer responsibilities: the provision of primary education remained a shared responsibility, but a new funding system was created, which organized the contribution to be provided by each level of government in maintaining this educational level (see item 5 of the 1st. part of this Report). In that same year, the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law assigned the task of providing early childhood education to the municipalities and the task of providing secondary education to the states.

Although recent legislation corrected the main difficulties derived from the extreme decentralization of the educational system, it is still very difficult to coordinate it as a whole, and for the Federal Administration to intervene directly in it, as it can only act in collaboration with the remaining levels of the executive branch and as a provider, to lessen regional inequalities.

Another feature of the system, which is very much related to decentralization and inherent in federative systems, is Brazil’s marked regional diversity. The development of the educational system has not been the same in all the regions of the country, and problems such as access, retention and success are much more serious in poorer regions. Therefore, general data hide relevant differences. For this reason, the indicators shown in this report are broken down by region. One must also consider that regional inequalities require a very differentiated policy and enhance the need for the Government to play a provisioning and re-distributive role with a view to achieving the Education for All objectives.

Part I Descriptive Section

  1. Education for All priorities, action plan and decision-making system

Because of the decentralized nature of the Brazilian educational system and of the remarkable autonomy of states and municipalities, according to the characteristics of the federative system provided for in the Constitution of 1988, there is no single decision-making and implementation level for the EFA 9 project in Brazil. However, the Federal Administration is responsible for coordinating educational policies at the central level, working in an articulated fashion with State and Municipal Education Secretariats and using a comprehensive system of incentives in the form of funds and special projects. In this regard, the legislative process constitutes an important decision-making and coordinating tool. National laws provide for the parameters and scope of each level of government competence. In this complex decision-making system, the Education for All project was not structured as a body of its own, and its goals and objectives were incorporated into the educational policy as a whole.

The goals and objectives of the Education for All program, initially pursued through the Ten-Year Education for All Plan (1993-2003), have been included in three recent and important legal tools: Constitutional Amendment n. 14, of 1996; the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law, of that same year; and, finally, the National Education Plan, which was referred to the National Congress in 1998 and is still being discussed. This legislation organizes and strengthens the role of the central government in relation to the objectives established by the Education for All program.

The Education Guidelines and Framework Law formalized the objectives of the Education for All program and defined the responsibilities of the Union, States and Municipalities. Constitutional Amendment n. 14 established the National Fund for Primary Education Development and for Enhancing the Value of the Teaching Profession (FUNDEF), which reorganized all the primary education funding system and earmarked more resources to education.

The National Education Plan, on the other hand, sets out concrete goals to be attained in the next 10 years. This plan, which resulted from a commitment assumed by the Ministry of Education and State and Municipal Education Secretariats, was widely debated with different entities of civil society. It is, therefore, a revised version of the previous Ten-Year Plan and constitutes, at the present moment, the main reference for the Education for All project for the next decade.

In addition to setting goals, the National Education Plan sets out priorities for the Country’s educational policy. Before this plan was available, the EFA goals included in the Ten-Year Education for All Plan were generic and aimed at enhancing the access to early childhood education and primary education, and at introducing new teaching methodologies and valuing the teaching profession, in tune with the New Delhi Conference commitments. Just for eradicating illiteracy, a quantitative goal was set as a result of the EFA 9 group conferences, according to which the number of illiterates would be reduced by 50% by the year 2000.

The guidelines established in Amman and Islamabad had already been incorporated into the educational policy of the Brazilian Government, particularly those related to the importance attached to teachers´ status, salaries and motivation. On the other hand, the recommendations issued by the 5th International Conference on Adult Education (Hamburg, 1997) constitute a major concern of the National Education Plan. Of all objectives and goals established at the EFA 9 conferences, only those related to giving priority to the education of women and girls were not adopted by Brazil, since no such problem exists in the country. Schooling rates, as well as success rates and average number of schooling years are higher in the female population than in the male population. If this trend continues, gender concerns in Brazil will have to be inverted.

The new National Education Plan sets out educational priorities in a clear order. The first priority is to ensure access to schools for all children in the 7-14 age group and their retention. This priority is broken down into three others:

The second priority is intended to pay off an accumulated social debt, ensuring primary education to all those who had no access to it in the proper age or could not complete it for one reason or another. This goal incorporates and expands the constitutional provision that illiteracy is to be eradicated. In this context, literacy is to be understood in its broadest meaning, that is, proficiency in the use of basic tools of literate cultures and knowledge of elementary mathematical operations, of the historical evolution of the human society, of the world’s physical and political scenario, and of the constitution of the Brazilian society. It also involves the formation of responsible citizens, aware of their rights. This priority is linked to the issue of Youth and Adult Education, which deserved special attention in the National Education Plan.

The third priority is to expand the access to educational levels before and after the primary education, namely, early childhood education, secondary education, and higher education.

Universalizing the access to all of these remaining educational levels is not an objective of the Plan, as this goal cannot be achieved within 10 years. The Plan contemplates, however, the objective of expanding compulsory education to cover children aged 6, whether in pre-schools or in schools providing primary education, and the gradual expansion of the access to secondary education to all adolescents who complete the previous level. For the remaining levels, concrete goals are contemplated to expand the access, by defining a percentage of the age group to be covered. In this way, the objective of expanding the schooling years of the population will not be just a rhetorical proposition, lacking effective tools to be consolidated.

Because it is an indispensable tool for managing the educational system, the development and improvement of information-producing and evaluation systems at all levels and in all programs is now regarded as a priority. This effort, which has been enhanced in the last 5 years, has enabled the Country to advance significantly in this area.

The priorities that have been set at the different educational levels have been broken down into goals that contemplate not only the objectives to be attained, but also the necessary conditions to attain them.

In addition to the goals related to the different teaching levels, other goals have been defined for the system as a whole or for specific needs of different segments of the population, such as: teachers’ training, which is essential to ensure the quality of the teaching at all levels; development and full use of new educational technologies, both to meet the needs of regular classes, where the teacher is actually present, by offering extremely effective pedagogic resources, and to democratize the access to formal and informal education through distance learning education mechanisms; indigenous education, aimed at ensuring the constitutional rights of indigenous populations; and special education, aimed at enabling children who have been marginalized from the system, to access the education process. The Plan also comprises goals for the management and funding of the system, which constitute indispensable tools for its implementation.

Regarding the Action Framework to meet basic learning needs, the quantitative goals established for the next ten years are the following:

Quantitative goals for enhancing the access to basic education

Goals for the education of the youth and adult population

Goals for teachers

Goals for democratizing the management of schools

The goals also contemplate the need to provide more opportunities for vocational training at all levels and the use of information technology in schools and in the agencies in charge of managing the school system.

Financing and management goals

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