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Teaching Profession

It was only in the second half of the nineteenth century that Brazilian federal legislation opened the first professional teaching schools (Curso Normal). Male teachers tended to concentrate their training at the secondary level, with an emphasis on subject area specialties. Female teachers tended to be relegated to the primary level. This situation lasted until the mid-1930s, when new legislation created the Magistério, a well-defined teaching certification course. Entrance into this program required the completion of all eight grades of primary school. At that time, a primary level education was the minimum requirement for teaching primary school. Subsequently, in the 1950s, secondary level teachers were required to have a college degree.

Census figures from the 1970s and 1980s revealed that teaching, particularly in the early primary levels of education, was an underpaid occupation, although educators were required to invest considerable time in their professional training and credentials. Wage figures for the 1990s are not very different from previous decades. In the state of São Paulo, for instance, the average salary was 5.3 times the national minimum salary for male secondary level teachers and 1.9 times the national minimum salary for females.

Eighteen percent of the Brazilian gross national product is spent on education, with the greater part of this expenditure going to federal universities that do not charge tuition or fees. In 1997, the average beginning primary school teacher earned an average monthly salary of less than US$200 (this figure was US$223 for teachers in the state of São Paulo).

In addition to widespread undercompensation, teaching conditions are also difficult. Despite the low wages earned, many teachers work two shifts per day, usually at two different schools. This tight schedule barely provides the minimum salary necessary for survival, and it does so at tremendous cost to teachers and classrooms. Teaching double shifts generally means that teachers have to be prepared for teaching almost 10 classes—or 350 students—a day. Teaching under such conditions has compromised the quality of instruction and led teachers to long term union strikes over the last few decades.

Brazil has powerful teacher's unions. During the 1980s and 1990s, they leaned politically to the left, creating monopolies in forums and conferences and also creating the so-called "ideological patrols." The most active teacher's unions are the regional Sindicato dos Professores (SINPROs), Sindicato Nacional e Democrático dos Professores (SINDEP), and Associação Nacional de Docentes de Ensino Superior (ANDES).

Additional topics

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