Secondary Education in Brazil

Global poverty could be more than halved almost within a generation if all adults completed secondary school, according to the findings of UNESCO-UIS and the Global Education Monitoring Reports.

Education is key to the development of individuals, households, communities and societies. Education provides people with knowledge and skills that increase their productivity and make them less vulnerable to risks. On average, one year of education is estimated to increase wage earnings by 10%. However, youth are more than four times as likely to be out of school as children and more than twice as likely to be out of school as adolescents.

These high out-of-school rates can be explained by poverty and a variety of other reasons: many youth never had a chance to enter school when they were younger, upper secondary education is often not compulsory, and youth have a right to employment in most countries (UNESCO-UIS and GEM Report, 2016).

UNESCO Institute for Statistics database (2017) shows that since 2000, the upper secondary out-of-school rate has fallen more steadily in the world, but this trend is flattening out. In 2000, there were 185.5 million out-of-school students in the upper secondary school age (about 15 to 17 years). In 2015, this number dropped to 141 million.

Completion rates are even lower than enrolment rates. For example, in low-income countries, while 62% of adolescents were enrolled in 2015, only 27% of them finished lower secondary education in the period 2008–2014 (UNESCO, 2016). Even when they complete an education cycle, children, adolescents and youth frequently do not obtain the expected skills because the quality of education is low. Several studies have demonstrated that low levels of education and poor skill acquisition hamper economic growth, which in turn slows down poverty reduction.

As a review of 64 studies has shown, under certain conditions, the equitable expansion of education helps to reduce inequality. In particular, ensuring that most people have completed secondary schooling is an essential condition of reducing inequality within countries. In Brazil, income inequality, as captured by the Gini coefficient, fell by about seven percentage points over two decades, as the share of the population with secondary education grew (Abdullah et al., 2015).

A range of education development paths can be effective in different ways in increasing growth and reducing poverty. Together with secondary education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) can connect education and the world of work. TVET aims to address economic, social and environmental demands by helping youth and adults develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. In this way, TVET promotes equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and supports transitions to green and digital economies.

Substantial reforms in the area of education can be the answer for the countries suffering financial constraints; UNESCO offers technical assistance in education policy analysis, the design of education sector development plans and donor mobilization in support of national educational priorities, such as curriculum reform, teacher policies, and ICTs in education. Since 1997, UNESCO Office in Brazil has followed and supported the national actions towards the implementation of secondary education reform.

In the process of defining regional and national development agendas linked to world dialogue on the post-2015 sustainable development goals, the vision of curriculum as an instrument for forging learning opportunities throughout life places it (or should do so) at the centre of discussions on cohesion, inclusion, equity and development. In this progress, the Organization supports the development of public policies that can effectively contribute to the improvement of the educational system in this level through studies, publications, promotion of discussions, and technical cooperation agreements.

 

UNESCO has tried to sensitize the Brazilian government on the need to diverse structures and expand the offer of Secondary Education, including through:

  • use of Communication and Information Technologies (ICT)
  • valuing the teaching profession
  • teacher education and training to improve their competencies and update their methods
  • inclusion of transdisciplinary themes in school curriculum with emphasis on ethical and civic values such as the principles and concepts of human rights, ethics, philosophy, and sustainability
  • development of permanent mechanisms of student and school community participation in discussions of school evaluation process, of pedagogical work, and their results

This focuses indicate that the most important is to have a good quality basic education that can permit the permanent process of lifelong learning.

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