As in other areas of social life, education in Brazil is marked
by great inequalities, with a highly developed university system
at one extreme and widespread illiteracy at the other. Despite considerable
progress in coverage, serious problems of quality remain. In 1995
the federal government was spending almost twice as much on the
universities as on basic education, which is the primary responsibility
of states and municipalities. Local governments often paid teachers
wages that were well below the legal minimum.
In 1990 there were 37.6 million students, as compared with 10 million
in 1964. Of the 1990 total, 3.9 million students were in preschool,
29.4 million in elementary school, 3.7 million in secondary school,
and 1.7 million in university. Despite this progress, less than
40 percent of the high school-age population was enrolled in school.
Because of the economic and social changes that have occurred in
Brazil in recent decades, parents now place high value on education
for their children. Availability of schools has become an important
factor in deciding where to live and how to make a living, even
in how many children to have.
Data as of April 1997