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Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool Education: Preschool is designed to provide physical, psychological, and intellectual development for children under the age of six. It complements family education. There are day care nurseries for children who are up to three-years-old, and kindergartens for those age four to six. This system started with the Constitution of 1988 and is fostered by the municipalities. Although emphasized by the government, its implementation reaches only 17.5 percent of the population. The enrollment was 5.9 percent in 1980 and rose to 17.4 percent in 1989.

Special Education: Special education is offered from preschool to secondary level. Support for special education is provided by the Ministry of Education, by the state, by some municipal secretariats, and by nongovernmental organizations. Depending on the kind of program, an institution might include rehabilitation centers, clinics, hospitals, and more. According to 1989 statistics, 63 percent of the special education students were mentally retarded, 14.4 percent had hearing problems, 9.3 percent were physically handicapped, and 4.4 percent had visual deficiencies. There is much interest in aiding blind students or those with subnormal vision at an early stage to increase academic performance.

Elementary Education: Elementary education is called escola de primeiro grau (first degree schooling). It is constitutionally mandatory for students aged 7 to 14. Its main objectives are to develop reading, writing, and calculating; to understand natural laws and social relations in contemporary society; and to develop the capacity of thinking and creating. State Councils of Education structure the elementary school curricula. The curriculum includes: communication and expression (Portuguese language); social studies (geography, history, and social and political organization); and sciences (mathematics and biological). In 2001, about 91 percent of students from seven to fourteen had access to schooling. Recent data indicates that about half of first graders fail, which causes about 2.3 percent of them to abandon school. This index reaches 32 percent by the end of the fourth grade.

A public educational policy for indigenous schools exists to prepare teachers to teach the native people, to produce didactic material, and to disseminate indigenous themes in schools. Indigenous education is part of the Constitution of 1988. Children go to school half a day, either in the mornings or in the afternoons. In 1984, the state government of Rio de Janeiro created the Centro Integrado de Educação Popular or CIEP (integrated center for popular education) for the poorer population. The purpose was to keep the students busy eight hours every day with instruction, sports, medical assistance, food, and cultural activities. These schools were especially built with a uniform architectonic project and were easily recognizable. This idea was followed by the government of President Fernando Collor de Melo under the name Centro Integrado de Atendimento à Criança (CIAC). Although the idea was excellent, its costs were too high and there were not enough qualified teachers and staff. The project slowly faded, with pieces of it being picked up by other programs.

At the turn of the millennium, the government was placing major emphasis on elementary education. In 1996, the Constitutional Amendment 4 created Fundo e Manutenção e Desenvolvimento do Ensino Fundamental e Valorização do Magistério or FUNDEF (Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Teaching and Valuation). One of the purposes of this fund was to train teachers and raise their salaries. The average national salary increase was 13 percent, 50 percent in the municipal systems.

The Programa Nacional do Livro Didático or PNLD (National Textbook Program) was broadened and renovated, and in 1999, about 110 million books that had been selected by the teachers themselves were distributed to elementary schools from the first to the fourth grade. Throughout the country, there is an ongoing pedagogical evaluation, which started in 1996. The Secretaria de Educação Fundamental (SEF) prepares the Guia de Livros Didáticos, a guide to help choose the right books and to ease the teacher's task.

Adult Education: Adult education is remedial schooling. The minimum age is 18 for the elementary level and 21 for the secondary level. The Ministry of Education and the state secretariats provide support for this kind education through special courses, equivalent to the American GED, that can be taken in schools or online. Supervision is handled by state boards of education and inspection services. For the students who successfully complete the course, a diploma is granted.

Popular Education: Popular education is a new concept of teaching created by the educator Paulo Freire. His method was successful in teaching literacy in 40 hours of classes without any didactic material. He conceived education within the existential reality. For him, reading and writing is a social praxis. Dialogue is the key for interaction between teacher and students.

Freire's model revolutionalized traditional schoolroom teaching, transforming adult education into a healthy approach for those students who come to class already knowing what they want and need to learn. His model is reflected in the work of adult educators in the United States and in other countries, principally in Africa. Paulo Freire's main books are Cultural Action for Freedom (1970), Education as the Practice of Freedom (1976), and Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1993). This model is called "educación popular" in Latin America, "andragogy" by Malcolm Knowles, or "action learning" by learner-centered education proponents. Jane Vella, an educator who adapted Friere's model, explains the characteristics of popular education as:

learner's participation in naming content via needs assessment, mutual respect, dialogue between learner and teacher and among learners, achievement-based learning objectives, small-group work to engage learners and to provide safety, visual support and psychomotor involvement, accountability of the teacher to do what he or she proposes, student participation in the evaluation of program results, a listening attitude on the part of teachers and resource people, and learning by doing. (Vella 1995)

Professional Education: Professional education treats the needs of local and regional markets. The curriculum is modular—that is, organized in units as short courses that can be taken by the student in between his or her working schedule at different times. The technical and professional schools issue diplomas are for the job market, mainly in industry and agriculture. The market has been giving clear signals that without a secondary diploma the candidate will not get a good job.

Across Brazil, 2.8 million students are enrolled in professional education; 24.1 percent are in industry courses, followed by agriculture, and commerce. There are 33,000 professional education courses, 83.5 percent are on the basic level. There are 5,000 technical and 433 technological courses. Computer science is the most requested course. In total, 3,948 institutions offer these courses, 2,216 of which are technical.

Professional education takes place on three different levels: Basic: courses for young and adult workers. They do not demand previous schooling and its goal is to qualify the student; Technical: for young and adult students who are taking or have already finished their secondary education. Receiving a diploma demands having finished 11 years of basic schooling; Technological: this provides higher education on the undergraduate and graduate level.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceBrazil - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education