Education 4: The Search for Quality
Author: Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro | Published in 2007
We face a difficult task. Public education in Brazil and other Latin American countries is backward owing to low public investment in the development of the human capital of populations that grew and urbanized quickly in the 20th Century. Coherence in the institutions that govern and deliver education is lacking. This backwardness is dramatic when compared with the wealthier countries of Europe and North America that provided free universal public education about a century before it became a vigorously pursued goal in Latin America. In the agrarian Brazil of the 1930s, access to education was the privilege of a few. In 1930, only two in ten children attended school. Of those who studied; the majority completed at most the fourth grade of elementary school. Only large cities had schools that included the 5th to 8th grades. 60% of the adult population was illiterate.