Structural bottlenecks of education in Brazil discussed by authorities and experts
Brazil spends 4% of its GDP on education, which is not a small amount compared to other countries. According to Daniel De Bonis, Deputy Secretary of Education in the city of Sao Paulo, the problem is that Brazil has very low scores in the PISA Test (Programme for International Student Assessment), which indicates that this investment is not generating results. “Brazil is only ahead of Indonesia and Peru in a list of 45 countries”. He was one of the participants of the debate titled “Structural Bottlenecks: Education, Funding and Infrastructure” held by the OneMBA program of FGV’s Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP) – the top Executive MBA program in Latin America according to the Financial Times.
During the event, Ana Carla Abrão Costa (Chairperson of the Fiscal Management Council of the city of Sao Paulo) drew an overview of Brazilian society’s various achievements in the last two decades, emphasizing the growth in income and productivity, in addition to major social advances, such as reducing infant mortality and poverty, increasing life expectancy and access to basic sanitation, among others. However, the expert considers that these improvements only accompanied the general scenario of improvement in emerging countries and that Brazil still fell short when it comes to reducing inequality. “While we were able to get 17 million people out of poverty, China did the same to 500 million people over the same period, and we still hold the third highest inequality rate worldwide”.
According to José Ronaldo de Castro Junior, Director of Macroeconomic Studies and Policies at IPEA, the growth in productivity is attributed to an upsurge in workforce, but this demographic bonus is running out very quickly. “In order to maintain this level of growth, we need to invest in reforms that ensure sustainable growth”. Both agreed with the Deputy Secretary of Education regarding the need to rethink teacher training, which should address more practical and less theoretical content, and help students develop socioemotional skills and competencies. “There’s no point in dumping content over teachers. We need to address self-esteem and confidence, among other behaviors”.
For Jorge Carneiro, Coordinator of OneMBA, this focus on combining hands-on experience and theoretical content is already practiced in the top graduate courses across the country, and must also be considered for high school and undergraduate courses. “At FGV, we really emphasize this approach with the market, even in international terms, which is the focus of OneMBA. Each class has students of about 20 different nationalities who interact with professionals from several countries during travelling experiences, which include field trips to companies in Brazil and abroad, in addition to lectures with policymakers and top executives”.
The debate is part of a series of events that OneMBA is hosting to discuss the challenges and perspectives for Brazil over the next decade.