Brazil is one of the most prosperous developing countries with a booming economy. From this, many believe that Brazil is on its way to success, especially foreigners who do not see behind the closed curtains. But despite recent economic growth, Brazil continues to lack on the education side, and it does not matter how richer the rich get, as long as the poor the poorer and struggle to get access to decent education, the country will remain stagnant and continue to fall back to its knees. What Brazil needs the most at this point is serious investment on education – not ways to change numbers and statistics, not ways to paint a convincing enough picture, but to actually extend to all youth the needed education level they need to help build a better country.
There are many myths that Brazilians hold about their education system and how to fix it. One of them is the non-negotiable need to gain more financial investment before anything can be changed or improved at all. Money is essential, true, but does not solve all problems. While politicians decide to take investment on education more seriously, there are many other issues that can be solved independent of more money.
For starters, teachers have to more efficiently use their time inside classrooms. Research by the World Bank shows that teachers use only 66% of classroom time properly. Time is lost with roll call, copying homework instructions and calling students out for discipline. Countries with better education system than Brazil only waste up to 15% of classroom time. Teachers need to prioritize the most important parts of lessons and make sure time is spent on engaging students and reinforcing their understanding of the material.
Brazil also needs to truly provide education to all youth. There are still nearly four million children ages 4 through 17 that are not enrolled in school. A country with children who grow and become illiterate adults faces a capability and proficiency gap that cannot be quickly fixed.
But it’s not enough to enroll students in schools – they have to be of good quality so that they’ll be educated properly. High school is one of the levels with the worst quality in Brazil. Some possible reasons are the overload of subjects along with the specificity of the teaching, and the main focus on vestibular, the one college entrance exam that determines a student’s acceptance.
In high school, Brazilian students study around 13 subjects at the same time, including math, biology, chemistry and physics. Each subject is supposed to be taught in depth so that students can do well when taking the vestibular, which tests them on almost all high school subjects, including a second language and comprehensive history. As a result, students probably cannot retain the excessive amount of information and, instead of studying to develop critical thinking and civic engagement, they study in ways to memorize for a test, and end up forgetting the bulk of it later.
There are more structural issues with the Brazilian education system than people usually account for. Financial investment is a must but is not the solution to all problems. Schools can provide students with education of better quality the moment educators, students and parents prioritize education above everything else.