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The Challenges of Education in Brazil
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Oxford Studies in Comparative Education

The Challenges of Education in Brazil


2004 paperback 232 pages, £30.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-89-2

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About the book

Education in Brazil has changed intensely over the last several years. Access to basic education is nearly universal, secondary education has been expanding very rapidly, and so too has higher education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, serious issues remain related to quality, equity and inappropriate use of resources. Some of these problems are related to the fact that Brazil started to develop its education institutions very late, and did not build strong teaching and academic professions that could provide the necessary support for education policies committed to equity, quality and efficiency.

This book, written by leading experts, is the first English-language text to provide a comprehensive analysis of the challenges facing Brazilian education at all levels, including issues such as the quality of basic education, the establishment of standards for higher education, the experiences of technical and vocational schools, teacher education, regulation and financing of public and private higher education, and the growing role of graduate education and research.


Simon Schwartzman. The Challenges of Education in Brazil

João Batista Araújo e Oliveira. Expansion and Inequality in Brazilian Education

Francisco Soares. Quality and Equity in Brazilian Basic Education: facts and possibilities

Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro & Sergio Tiezzi. The Reform of Secondary Education and the Implementation of ENEM in Brazil

Cláudio de Moura Castro. Brazilian Technical Education: the chronicle of a turbulent marriage

Maria C.M. Figueiredo & Robert Cowen. Models of Teacher Education and Shifts in Politics: a note on Brazil

Eunice R. Durham. Higher Education in Brazil: public and private

Maria Helena de Magalhães Castro. The State and the Market in the Regulation of Higher Education in Brazil

Elizabeth Balbachevsky. Graduate Education: emerging challenges to a successful policy


Elizabeth Balbachevsky is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science of the University of São Paulo, and senior researcher at the research centres for Higher Education (NUPES) and International Relations in the same university. She is currently directing a national survey on the Brazilian academic profession. She has written on the Brazilian academic profession and science and technology policies. Recent publications include ‘The Changing Academic Workplace in Brazil’, in The Decline of the Guru: the academic profession in developing and middle-income countries, edited by Phillip Altbach (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) and ‘From Encirclement to Globalization: evolving patterns of higher education in Brazil’, in The Emerging Markets and Higher Education, edited by Matthew McMullen and others (RoutledgeFalmer, 2000).

Colin Brock is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Oxford, where he has worked since 1992 in the field of Comparative and International Education. A graduate in Geography and Anthropology, he has been involved in international educational development for 35 years, working in various locations in Africa, Asia and the tropical island zones as well as in Latin America, and for most of the major agencies such as the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme and the European Commission. He has published in the field of Latin American education, and has been co-organiser of the UK Seminar on Latin American Education for the past 15 years.

Cláudio de Moura Castro is a Brazilian economist, with a PhD in Economics from Vanderbilt University. He taught at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, the Vargas Foundation, the University of Chicago, the University of Brasilia, the University of Geneva and the University of Burgundy (Dijon). He was the director of CAPES (Brazilian Agency for Postgraduate Education) and Chief of the Training Policies Branch of the International Labour Office (Geneva) between 1986 and 1992. He worked in the World Bank as Senior Human Resource Economist and was Chief Educational Advisor of the Inter-American Development Bank. Presently, he is President of the Advisory Council of Faculdade Pitágoras. He has published over 35 books and around 300 scholarly articles.

Maria Helena de Magalhães Castro holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University, USA (1993) and is Professor of the Department of Sociology at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro. She worked at the Research Group on Higher Education of the University of São Paulo from 1990 to 1994; participated in the Harvard Fellowship Programme on Latin American Higher Education during the spring of 1995, and made a study on Higher Education in Nicaragua for the Inter-American Development Bank in 2000. She was a member of the Advisory Committee on Higher Education Statistics for the National Institute of Education Research in Brazil, for the development of Brazil’s national information system for higher education; and has been a member of the Coordinating Committee on Institutional Evaluation for the Brazilian National Council of Rectors since 2000.

Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro is currently the State Secretary for Social Development of the Government of São Paulo. From January 1995 to April 2002, she acted as President of the National Institute for Educational Studies and Research (INEP), the government agency in charge of education statistics and evaluation in Brazil. Some of the most important projects implemented by INEP under her coordination are: the School Census, the Higher Education Census, the National Basic Education Evaluation System (SAEB), the National Secondary Education Examination (ENEM), and the National Course Examination (Provão). Also, she took part in the formulation and implementation of several important educational policies and reforms implemented during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s administration (school grants curricular reforms, funding decentralization, etc.)

Robert Cowen is Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, and President of the Comparative Education Society in Europe and a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Brasília, in Brazil, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, the University of La Trobe in Melbourne, and the State University of New York, at Buffalo, New York, USA. His publications include Latin America and Educational Transfer (ed.), Special Issue of Comparative Education (2002); Education in Times of Transition: The World Yearbook of Education 2000 (ed., with David Coulby & Crispin Jones) (Kogan Page, 2000). His recent articles include: ‘Moments of Time: a comparative note’, in History of Education, 31(5), 2002; ‘In the Minds of Men: the shifting contexts of interculturality’, in Interculturel: Balance y Perspectivas (UNESCO, 2002); and, on teacher education, ‘Socrates was Right? Teacher Education Systems and the State’, in Elwyn Thomas (Ed.) Teacher Education: dilemmas and prospects, World Yearbook of Education 2002 (Kogan Page, 2002).

Eunice Durham is Professor of Anthropology at the University of São Paulo. She is the founder and director of the Research Group of Higher Education in that University since 1989. She was the director for the Brazilian Agency for Graduate Education (CAPES), National Secretary for Higher Education and National Secretary for Educational Policy for the Brazilian Ministry of Education between 1991 and 1995. Her earlier studies dealt with issues of culture and social mobility; more recently, she has written extensively on questions related to higher education policy and assessment.

Maria C.M. Figueiredo started her career as a lecturer and senior administrator in the State University of Montes Claros, in Brazil. She was also a regional adviser to CAPES, a research and funding agency of the Ministry of Education. She studied at the Sorbonne, in Paris. She undertook her MSc in University Planning and Administration at the University of Wisconsin, USA. Later she obtained her PhD from the Institute of Education, University of London where she became the Brazilian Lektor, appointed by the Institute of Education in partnership with the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her publications include Paulo Freire at the Institute (with Denise Gastaldo) (Institute of Education, University of London, 1995); ‘Latin American Universities, Academic Freedom and Autonomy: a long-term myth?’ in Comparative Education, 38(4), 2002; ‘Educational Excellence: the case of Brazil’ (with Robert Cowen) in Higher Education Policy, 2(3), 1989.

João Batista Araujo e Oliveira worked on academic, professional, consulting and managerial positions throughout his career in Brazil and abroad. In the last eight years he has been involved in the development of large-scale educational interventions for at-risk students as well as for teaching children how to read and write ( He also published a number of papers and books based on the results of these projects. His most recent books are A Pedagogia do Sucesso, Aprender e Ensinar, A Escola Vista por Dentro (with Simon Schwartzman) and ABC do Alfabetizador (Belo Horizonte: Alfa Educativa, 2004).

Simon Schwartzman is the President of the Institute for Studies and Labour and Society (IETS) in Rio de Janeiro. He is Brazilian, with a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked in the areas of comparative politics, science and technology, higher education and social policy. Between 1994 and 1998, he was the President of Brazil’s Statistical and Geographical Institute (Fundação Instituto Brasileiro e Geografia e Estatística, IBGE). His books include Bases do Autoritarismo Brasileiro (Editora Campus e Editora da Universidade de Brasília, 1982); A Space for Science: the development of the scientific community in Brazil (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991 and 2001 in Portuguese); The New Production of Knowledge (with Michael Gibbons, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott & Martin Trow) (Sage, 1994); and El futuro de la educación superior en America Latina (Washington, DC, Organization of American States, 1996); and As Causas da Pobreza (Rio de Janeiro, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 2004).

Francisco Soares is Professor of Statistics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, where he studied mathematics before obtaining his MA in statistics from the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Rio de Janeiro, and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA. He coordinates the Group of Educational Assessment and Measurements at the University, and works on statistical models used to identify and assess intra- and extra-school factors associated with student achievement. He has worked in the planning and analysis of the Brazilian National Assessment of Basic Education (SAEB) and in education assessment for the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Sergio Tiezzi holds a degree in History from the University of São Paulo, and an MA in Urban Planning from the University of Brasilia. From 1995 through 2002, he has occupied different staff positions in the Brazilian government: special advisor to the Minister of Education; Director in the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, and in the President’s Chief of Staff Office. Throughout, he has worked with special policies in general, and education in particular. He is currently technical advisor in the Brazilian Senate.

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