The Educational System of Brazil
The current Brazilian education system is based on the 1988 Constitution, which highlighted education as a universal right that should be promoted and protected by the government. In 1996, the National Education Guidelines and Framework Law or LBD, was passed. This law required a common national basis for curriculum in primary and secondary education, increased the length and number of teaching days, accounted for the evaluation of courses and institutions at all education levels, allowed for the integration of vocational education, and made considerations for special and indigenous education. Since the implementation of the 1996 LBD, more recent legislation has been passed to continue to improve the Brazilian education system. Some of these changes include the creation of the National System of Higher Education Evaluation (SINAES), the establishment of a compulsory nine-year primary education system, and the development of additional opportunities for vocational training.
Through the advice of the Brazilian Ministry of Education, the national government is responsible for legislating on the Guidelines and Bases for national education, coordinating and developing Federal Education Plans, and providing technical and financial aid to the states, the federal district and the municipalities for the development of their educational systems and for priority assistance to compulsory schooling.
Goals and Objectives:
The general goals and objectives of the Brazilian education system are represented in specific statutory laws. Specifically, the National Educational Bases and Guidelines Law, enacted in 1961 and later amended by a series of other statutory laws, serves as an instrument which regulates educational goals and objectives, and the means and powers of educational actions.
According to the constitution as it pertains to the Brazilian education system, the legislation that defines the goals and objectives of education apply to all schools as long as it does not go against the Constitution. According to the Bases and Guidelines Law still in force, the national education system, conceived in the principles of freedom and in the ideals of human solidarity, has the purpose of:
Structure of Education in Brazil:
The Brazilian education system is divided into 5 distinct levels or stages:
Primary and Secondary Education:
Currently, primary and secondary education in Brazil follows a 9+3 pattern.
Primary education is compulsory and free at public institutions. Pre-primary and secondary educations are not compulsory, but are available for free at public institutions. Private institutions are available at all education levels. Private institutions must be evaluated and approved by the Ministry of Education. The quality of primary and secondary schools varies significantly depending on the individual institution.
As of 2010, primary fundamental education has a duration of 9 years and is compulsory for children aged 6-14. Previously, fundamental education was compulsory at age 7 and only lasted eight years. Fundamental education curriculum includes history, geography, science, mathematics, arts, Portuguese and physical education.
Fundamental Secondary Education (3 Years, Ages 15-18)
Curriculum includes at least one foreign language, philosophy, and sociology, Portuguese, geography, history, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, art and physical education.
Vocational Secondary Education
Teachincal and vocational education (3-4 Years). After completing ensino fundamental, students may choose attend a vocational secondary school. The curriculum can include general as well as specialized vocational subjects.
In addition to secondary and vocational secondary education, Brazil offers an adult education secondary school diploma for non-traditional students. Students with this qualification may take university entrance exams.
Structure of Higher Education
The higher education system in Brazil consists of public and private schools, the latter operated by both for-profit and non-profit organizations. The latest census of Brazil listed some 1900 institutions of higher education, of which 163 were universities. Nearly half of these universities are public, though 70 percent of the overall higher education market is private, as the number of private institutions has surged in recent years in order to keep pace with the demand for higher learning and professional training.
Admission to public universities in Brazil is extremely competitive, given the fact that students do not pay admission fees and due to the publicly-perceived higher quality of education at these schools. Public universities are seen to excel in the agrarian and human sciences, such as medicine, teacher training and psychology, while private institutions are well-known for the applied social sciences, including law, administration and economics.
Primarily, there are three types of degress at higher education institutions in Brazil:
Graduation programs last for 4 to 6 years and require a final research paper to be submitted.
Masters programs last for 18 to 24 months and focus on theory and research and a demonstrated ability in a foreign language is required. A thesis has to be submitted to complete the Masters degree.
Doctorate programs usually last for 4 years and requires a Masters degree for admission and a thesis or dissertation is required for completing a Doctorate program.
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