Event launches new book on Brazil’s long-term education backwardness, dating back to independence
The current unsatisfactory state of Brazilian education is the result of a long history of neglect and poor decisions, for which the country is paying a high price to this day. This is the main argument of “O ponto a que chegamos: duzentos anos de atraso educacional e seu impacto nas políticas do presente” (“The point we have come to: 200 years of educational backwardness and its impact on present policies”), a book by Antônio Gois, a journalist specializing in education. The book, published by FGV Press, will be launched at events in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
The first launch event will take place in Rio de Janeiro on July 28, at 7 pm, at Blooks Livraria, at Espaço Itaú de Cinema, Praia de Botafogo, 316, Botafogo. It will be attended by author Antônio Gois and also José Henrique Paim, a former education minister and now the director of the FGV Center for the Development of Public Management and Educational Policy (FGV DGPE).
In Sao Paulo, the book launch will be held on August 8, at Livraria da Vila, Rua Fradique Coutinho, 915, Pinheiros. The event will feature the author, Antônio Gois; the research director of Cenpec and president of Anpae, Romualdo Portela; and Fernando Abrucio, aprofessor at FGV EAESP and a member of the advisory board of the Everyone for Education campaign.
The book, whose foreword is written by Justice Luiz Roberto Barroso, presents research by journalist Antônio Gois, who has investigated the deep roots of Brazil’s backwardness in this sector. “Understanding the trajectory of education in Brazil, up to the point we have reached now, is a fundamental part of efforts to better diagnose present challenges, avoiding simplistic solutions to complex structural problems,” he argues.
The author seeks to explain, in language accessible to a broad audience, how we have fallen behind developed countries and even some neighboring nations since independence, despite generous promises in speeches and laws.
Another topic addressed is the myth that public sector education used to be better quality. It is frustrating to see today that a quarter of young people aged between 15 and 17 are not attending high school. However, it must be remembered that the situation was much worse in the past. In the 1960s, for example, only six out of every 100 students who attended elementary school ended up graduating from high school. The system’s main bottleneck was first grade, in which the failure rate exceeded 50% throughout most of the 20th century. As a result, only a small elite of survivors completed basic education.
“This finding does not necessarily contradict the individual memories of those who may remember their school days with satisfaction. A few islands of excellence existed and continue to exist. The central thrust of my argument is that, as a system, we never had high-quality education,” the author says.
Historical analysis of the trajectory of our education system shows that the country has missed successive opportunities, during periods of both dictatorship and democracy, to expand funding at favorable times. It also reveals that the conception of an unequal system from the beginning was not the result of chance, but a strategy sometimes even made explicit in public documents and the speeches of officials.
Despite some recent advances, especially since the restoration of democracy, a series of poor decisions over the course of two centuries has taken a heavy toll on the country’s development. Understanding our trajectory up to the present moment is therefore a fundamental part of efforts to better diagnose today’s challenges and design more effective public policies, avoiding simplistic solutions to complex structural problems.
To acquire the book, click here.