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    1. The expansion of the educational system as a whole

The increase in schooling years reflects the constant increase registered in the enrollment rate for almost all levels, except for the stagnation observed in the 1980s for higher education and the slight decrease in early childhood education between 1997 and 1998, which will be analyzed later in this report. Table 10 illustrates the expansion of the educational system in Brazil between 1970 and 1998, except for special education, and youth and adult education.

Table 10Changes in the enrollment rate by level of education – Brazil – 1970 – 1998 (in 1,000)

Year

Total

Early Childhood Education(1)

Primary Education

Secondary Education

Higher Education

1970

17,814

374

15,895

1,119

425

1980

28,130

1,335

22,598

2,819

1,377

1985

31,635

2,482

24,770

3,016

1,368

1991

39,823

5,284

29,204

3,770

1,565

1997

48,299

5,719

34,229

6,405

1,946

1998

49,805

4,917

35,793

6,969

2,126

Source: Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC

Obs.: (1) – Includes children enrolled in pre-school programs and in literacy classes.

As the table shows, the student population in Brazil amounts to almost 50 million students. If we include students covered by special education and youth and adult education programs, the figure increases to 54.3 million, or about one-third of the Brazilian population. Between 1991 and 1997, enrollments in pre-school programs and primary schools grew at an incredible rate. More recently, enrollment rates have been increasing more rapidly in high schools, as a result of the progress made in primary education. Very positive results have also been achieved in the coverage by age group, which become more clear when the figures related to the net participation rate are broken down, as shown in table 11.

Table 11Participation in education by age group – Brazil – 1970-1998

Year

4 - 6 years

7 - 14 years

15 - 17 years

1970

9.3

67.1

41.1

1975

1.,2

75.0

51.4

1980

19.1

81.1

56.3

1985

28.6

81.8

59.2

1991

41.2

91.6

69.2

1998

-

95.8

81.1

Source: Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC

These figures are not directly reflected in the schooling level of the Brazilian population. This is so because, as a result of high repetition rates, a large percentage of adolescents in the 15-17 age group have not reached the secondary education level but are attending primary schools. As a result, although the coverage of this group has increased to 81.1%, only about 30% of the students – a very low percentage – are attending secondary schools.

Therefore, despite undeniable advances in the Brazilian education, a careful analysis must still be made of the challenges the Country must overcome to provide a satisfactory schooling to all children and adolescents up to the age of 17.

The challenges are mainly related to quality, effectiveness and equity issues. The combination of these problems is particularly evinced by the high repetition rates that still prevail both in elementary and secondary schools. For the high coverage rates that have been consolidated for the population in the 7-17 age group to actually result in a substantial increase in the average schooling of the population to levels comparable to those prevailing in developed countries, it is imperative to overcome these obstacles and ensure a regular flow from grade to grade in the school system. This is, therefore, the main challenge facing the Brazilian educational policy today.

Demographic advantage

It is also important to bear in mind that Brazil began to enjoy more favorable conditions to achieve this goal since the 1990s, after the birth rate dropped by half in little less than 20 years. Up till the 1980s, the Country was facing a double pressure: on the one hand, the need to incorporate the population traditionally marginalized from schools into the educational system; and, on the other hand, the need to absorb large numbers of new entrants resulting from a very high birth rate. As a result of this pressure, resources were necessarily concentrated on providing access to schools. Until the late 1960s, the total birth rate was above 6% a year. It began to fall in the next decade – in 1980 it had fallen to about 4%, and in 1990 it was less than 3%. In 1998, it is estimated that the rate was only 2.11%.

Table 12 illustrates the reduction in Brazil’s population growth as a whole and by regions since 1950, as well as forecasts for the future.

Table 12 – Average annual population growth rate – Brazil and regions – 1950-2010

Brazil and regions

Average annual population growth rate (%)

1950-60

1960-70

1970-80

1980-91

1991-96

2005-10 (*)

Brazil

3.04

2.89

2.48

1.93

1.38

1.24

North

3.40

3.47

4.86

3.85

2.44

2.23

Northeast

2.12

2.40

2.16

1.83

1.06

1.08

Southeast

3.11

2.67

2.64

1.77

1.35

1.16

South

4.14

3.45

1.44

1.38

1.24

0.99

Mid-West

5.45

5.60

4.09

3.01

2.22

1.75

Sources: IBGE. Demographic Censuses of 1940-1991 and Population Count of 1996 – IBGE/DPE/DEPIS, 1998.

(*) Estimate

The demographic transition process will cause important changes in the age structure of the Brazilian population (Table 13). The turn of century will coincide with a deep inflection in the Country’s demographic dynamics, as a result of which a slow drop in the relative participation of school-age cohorts is expected to take place, following the trend already registered in this decade.

Table 13 – Population estimates by age group – Brazil – 1991-2000

 

Year

Age Groups (in 1,000)

6

7

7 - 10

11 – 14

15 - 17

15 - 19

20 - 24

25 – 20

1991

1996

1998*

2000*

3,478

3,255

3,254

3,044

3,472

3,310

3,207

3,090

13,771

13,519

13,384

12,682

13,056

13,805

13,865

13,494

90,000

10,082

10,397

10,351

14,791

16,396

17,252

17,149

14,103

14,682

15,653

15,946

13,492

13,954

13,757

14,360

Source: Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC

Obs.:: Data estimated by the Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC, using the Components Method

(*) Estimated data

This scenario is completely new for planning social policies in Brazil, particularly in the education area. However, one should not expect to witness a significant effect on the demand for schools in the medium term as a result of the diminution in the 7-14 age group. The possibility of predicting the actual demand for primary schools will continue to be affected by other variables, such as the transition rates, analyzed before.

Moreover, it is important to pay attention to the phenomenon known as "demographic discontinuity," as a result of which the narrowing at the base of the age pyramid is accompanied by a significant expansion in the portion represented by the population between the ages of 13 and 20. Referred to as "young wave," this phenomenon characterizes the 1990s and provokes additional impacts on the school system.

Anyhow, the implications of this change for the demographic profile should not be overlooked in the definition of the appropriate size for school networks, since the slower population growth and the availability of new openings to make up for the historical deficit in this area allow a growing volume of funds to be invested in improving the quality of education.

The analysis by education level presented below provides a more detailed picture of this general scenario.

  1. Early Childhood Education

2.1 – Day-Care Centers

Until recently, day-care programs for children aged 0-3 in Brazil were under the responsibility of different sectors of society, among which that of social workers. Only after the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law was passed, in 1996, the required integration among these sectors, provided for in the Constitution of 1988, began to be more systematically implemented. For this reason, the School Censuses, which constitute the main source of data on the educational situation in Brazil, only began to include day-care programs in 1998.

It must be highlighted that the first data on these programs are very partial, because they only began to be calculated by the School census recently, since the day-care centers and institutions assisting children under 4 are still in the process of registering and accrediting themselves with the Education Secretariats. After the passage of the LDB, according to which all day-care centers are to be included in the school system by 23 December 1999, states and municipalities began to organize themselves to issue Resolutions providing the required legal tools for opening and accrediting institutions according to nationally-accepted quality criteria. These criteria have been discussed by all bodies responsible for education in the country, namely, CONSED, UNDIME, the Forum of State-Level Education Councils and the National Association of Municipal Education Councils, which together with the Ministry of Education have drafted the document "Subsídios para abertura e credenciamento de instituições de educação infantil" (How to open and accredit early childhood education institutions) (Ministry of Education, 1998). This document has been used as a basic reference in all states and municipalities of the country, which have been encouraging the institutions in question to register themselves for the Census by disseminating it broadly.

These partial data have identified 381,804 children altogether who are enrolled in such programs, of whom 247,151 are under the age of four. Albeit partial, the data show that the coverage of children in this age group is still insufficient, since, among other reasons, they comprise schools that provide pre-school education and, therefore, the total figure includes a considerable number of older children, as shown in Table 14.

Table 14 – Enrollments, on 25 March 1998, in day-care programs by age group – Brazil and regions - 1998

Brazil and regions

Enrollments by Age Group

Total

Under 4

4 years or more

Brazil

381,804

247,151

134,653

North

23,907

12,998

10,909

Northeast

117,706

69,101

48,605

Southeast

149,234

99,803

49,431

South

68,523

50,205

18,318

Mid-West

22,434

15,044

7,390

Source: Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC

Obs.:1) The School Census does not include institutions that provide day-care programs exclusively.

2) The age was calculated according to year-of-birth information provided by the School Census, that is, the age that the student reached in 1998.

Albeit timid, the data shown in Tables 15 and 16 are a reference for the history of this coverage in the country. However, because the information is too dispersed, no integrated public policies could be defined for this level of education so far. One should bear in mind that the coverage rate of almost 15% for this age bracket illustrates the evolution registered in the last 10 years as a result of investments made by municipalities (often in partnership with NGOs and other civil society entities) in the opening of day-care centers.

It must also be mentioned that the integration of early childhood education into the formal educational system cannot, in what regards accreditation, supervision and teachers’ training, exempt other key players from their duty to take part in the definition of social, municipal and state policies, considering the age of the children who need health care and food supplementation. This means that social workers, health authorities, families and civil society at large must be co-responsible for the education of these children.

Only a little over 10% of all children covered by day-care programs live in rural areas, because the population in these areas is widely scattered and must cover long distances to go to day-care centers – a reality that is aggravated by difficulties to provide transportation to such young children - and also because family arrangements to take care of children represent the usual practice in these areas (Table 15).

Table 15Enrollments, on 25 March 1998, in day-care programs by location – Brazil and regions - 1998

Brazil and regions

Enrollments by location

Total

Urban

Rural

Brazil

381,804

342,655

39,149

North

23,907

19,194

4,713

Northeast

117,706

89,233

28,473

Southeast

149,234

146,097

3,137

South

68,523

66,236

2,287

Mid-West

22,434

21,895

539

Source: Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC

Obs.: The School Census does not include institutions that provide day-care programs exclusively.

In the set of day-care programs for which a new census was carried out, enrollments are strongly concentrated in municipal institutions – 5,374 altogether, which assist 246,676 children. Private institutions, of which there are 4,919, assist 123,356 children and rank second.

 

Table 16 – Enrollments, on 25 March 1998, in day-care programs by type of institution – Brazil and regions - 1998

 

Brazil and Regions

Enrollments by type of institution

 

Total

Federal

State

Municipal

Private

Brazil

187

11,585

246,676

123,356

381,804

North

60

1,577

16,560

5,710

23,907

Northeast

-

6,399

80,550

30,757

117,706

Southeast

17

609

91,997

56,611

149,234

South

110

1,171

48,938

18,304

68,523

Mid-West

-

1,829

8,631

11,974

22,434

Source: Ministry of Education/ INEP/SEEC

Obs.: The School Census does not include institutions that provide day-care programs exclusively.

The Population Count carried out by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in 1996 provides additional data. It is now known that of the 12 million children aged 0-3, a little over 900,000 were being covered by day-care programs in that year. This is more than double the figure registered by the School Census, which represents a net rate of 7.6% in this age group. These data point to the need of a large national campaign to encourage the registration and accreditation of all public and private institutions. They also point to the need to develop a more detailed record of day-care centers based on more accurate data on the coverage they provide in our country. Just based on these data, it will be possible to follow-up and assess, in the short and medium term, the coverage being provided and to make a realistic diagnosis of costs and investment requirements in this area.

Even considering the much higher number of children revealed by the IBGE survey, there is no doubt that the day-care programs available in the Country are not at all sufficient. On the other hand, if these day-care programs are transferred to the educational sector without the corresponding transference of the funds that were invested in them by social work agencies, expanding their coverage may turn out to be a very difficult task.

2.2 Pre-school education

In a country marked by deep economic and cultural inequalities, pre-school education, designed for children in the 4-6 age group, represents an important investment to ensure a satisfactory basic education. It is particularly important for children whose parents have no schooling and, for this reason, are not familiar with the literate and numerical culture, as is the case of a large proportion of children enrolled in primary schools in recent decades. Huge efforts have been made in this area, as shown in Table 17, which illustrates the evolution of enrollments in Brazil and its regions. The table also shows that regional disparities in pre-school education are less significant than in other education levels and that they follow regional demographic variations closely.

Table 17 – Changes in Enrolments for pre-school education - Brazil and Regions – 1987-1998

Year

Brazil

North

Northeast

Southeast

South

Mid-West

1987

3,296,010

177,996

1,070,943

1,431,219

414,055

201,797

1988

3,375,834

177,355

1,138,299

1,412,356

445,063

202,761

1991

3,628,285

213,802

1,303,225

1,482,446

452,374

176,438

1993

4,196,419

410,691

1,500,634

1,610,400

466,644

208,050

1996

4,270,376

325,416

1,470,151

1,729,933

504,914

239,962

1997

4,292,208

325,400

1,407,013

1,840,383

493,218

226,194

1998

4,111,120

299,009

 

1,283,513

 

1,821,062

 

493,268

 

214,268

 

Source: Ministry of Education/INEP/SEEC


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