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Saber é poder ! Why do most young people do not stay or come to secondary schools in Brazil?

The Law of National Education Guidelines, governing Brazil’s educational system states that ‘it is the responsibility of the federal government to act in higher education and provide technical and financial assistance to state and municipal levels. It is duty for the Federal District states the provision of primary and secondary education, the municipalities to offer elementary school and preschool.’ Why is secondary education not compulsory for young people in Brazil?

The importance of education beginning in early childhood (between ages 0 and 5 years) has been an emphasis on models developed by education experts. In Brazil, until the year 2009 primary education was compulsory from 6 to 14 years, grantindo that 97.6% of Brazilian children were enrolled in school.

In the same year is created Constitutional Amendment (EC) 59, which extends free education from 4-17 years, the country will have a period until the year 2016 for its progressive implementation in networks. But many 15 year olds have not completed primary school.

The high school enrollment for adolescents 15 years to 17 years in Brazil in 2009 reached 50.9%. In the Southeast, in Rio de Janeiro, 60.5% of youth were enrolled in secondary schools.

The National Survey per household sample from 1999 to 2009 points out the influence of social inequality as an early chance for the young poor not to get to school or to evade it, especially in the final school years. In this study 32.0% of adolescents between 15 and 17 years of age who were in high school are poor and 78% of these students are rich. Of the total number of students, 13.1% fail their year and 10% leave school.

Why do the vast majority of poor youth never get to high school? What attracts them outside the school environment? What can be changed?

Few are the favela communities that have a high school within their community. Distance is a factor that may serve as an obstacle for the young to stay at school. In addition, the youth sometimes takes care of younger siblings so that parents can leave for work.

Besides, the informal labor market uses the youth as labour force. They only prepare the youth to remain in informality and this does not encourage the youth to go on with formal studies.

There are not enough schools to absorb the demand from favela communities. Because of this, many students are directed to locations far from their homes, disrupting the family.

The City of God is an eloquent example of all these challenges. For 21 years, the community has been fighting for the construction of a secondary school.

On January 27, 2012 meeting with local leaders and several residents, the State Department of Education agreed to build a school unit, which will be called Pedro Aleixo Educational Centre.

With the construction of the school, the City of God will have 580 adolescents enrolled in high school. 6 groups in the morning and 6 in the evening will be created to respond to the community’s demand.

But still we do not have any guarantee that this will ensure wider school attendance and reduction in desertion. Thus, we must invest in a school with more quality, where the family is seen as a partner. A school with interdisciplinary staff, that is able to provide support for the student and his or her family, at the first sign of the possibility of school desertion. The school should be interesting for the student.

It would also be interesting if the high schools would carry on surveys about the students’ professional interests. So, for example, if they are interested in going straight to the labor market, the high school would find a way to give them support or orient them to look for a technical training.

And where does that leave us? We all must pursue this right until the school is built in City of God – as well as keep fighting for the betterment of the school system in Brazil as a whole.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous
new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse
lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the



usha kc's picture

Dear Valeria,, your issue is

Dear Valeria,, your issue is very important and data you have presented express the reality and need of education.
I enjoyed reading your post sista.

Dear friend grateful for your words. We must invest in education so as to encourage people, the country and the world.



Stella Paul's picture

Excellent piece!

Dear Valeria

I have really enjoyed reading this article! A lot! Its clear, simple and strong. I can also say that we have the exact situation in India. India and Brazil, as part of the BASIC (the other two are China and South Africa) group, have been supported, and committed to implement the MDGs. The free school education is one of them. Both these countries have got the related legislation (we got in in 2010). But now, after 2 years, the reports are coming out and they show the picture of high rates of drop out after elementary level.

I like your idea of survey to find out students' interest and take steps accordingly. Very practical! Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Valéria Barbosa da Silva's picture

Our problems are similar.

Dear Stella

Grateful for your words. The survey indicates a demand.
If you serve this demand we have the problem.


Celine's picture

Dear Valeria, I love your

Dear Valeria,
I love your article, you stated all facts needed to support your argument. Education is key to every development agenda anywhere in the world. Good work dear sister.


Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Important Subject

Dear Valeria,

This is a very important subject that you are presenting! I was surprised to learn that secondary school is not compulsory in Brazil. I have a few questions for you...
1. Is secondary education compulsory in the neighboring countries?
2. Are there any programs that are more holistic and involve families in their children's education? You talk about the importance of this to help avoid students dropping out, it would be great to know if any models already exist.
3. Is there any data by gender on the % of students in secondary education?

Great points that you include about what does make students drop out, particularly in Favelas.

Two things that I don't understand. In the first part of your article, you state "In Brazil, from 6 to 14 years the primary education is compulsory. In 2009, 97.6% of Brazilian children were enrolled. But many 15 year olds have not completed elementary school. " The second statement, that many 15 year olds have not completed elementary school, seems to contradict the statement that 97.6% of Brazillian children are enrolled in elementary school. Could you explain? And I am not sure about the refernce to Michel Foucault?

Keep up the great work!

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Valéria Barbosa da Silva's picture

Important Subject

Dear Rachel I am researching more deeply on the subject to answer your questions. I'll be home Carnival.

Each time I discovered more, and excites me, because I like challenges, like aprender.Saber the problem and find solutions.

As the quote from Michel Foulcalt, maybe I was not clear. I wanted to make a link from the need to learn to change their lives. The school is able to "hijack" the young and provide context for the same conditions of life change. Foulcalt addresses the influence of location on the lives of those under authority, with the technology of education. There is no greater authority than knowledge.



1 - Rachel, thank you for your signs which made me more steeped in the subject and had more information that will take me to apologize, since I gave earlier in the text margins unjust interpretations to the law governing my country.

The change must start with the topic. Why do most young people do not stay or come to secondary schools?

For that free education was extended in Brazil in November 2009. Before it was 4-14 years basic education, basic education that considers the key to the secondary level.

From the Constitutional Amendment (EC) 59, free education is extended from 4 to 17 years the country will have a period until the year 2016 for its progressive implementation in networks.
In Argentina and Chile, the school is already mandatory.

European countries provide between nine and 11 years of education by the State, with the text of Constitutional Amendment, our country will overcome them if we consider the legislation.
In Chile and Argentina, countries neighboring Brazil, the school is required.

2. There are programs that are more holistic and involve families in their children's education? You talk about the importance of this to help prevent students who drop out, the question arises whether existing models. I searched the internet and not found.

It gave me a feeling of care break. "For a while the child is a child and needs to be accompanied, was young to learn to take care of yourself."

It gave me a feeling of care break. "For a while the child is a child and needs to be monitored. He grew up, was young to learn to take care of yourself. "

Regarding the question about the 15 year olds, they are part of 97%, are those students who repeat grades and stay in school longer. This fact of repetencias in elementary school is one of the issues that interfere with entry to secondary school.

In the text if possible, would like to modify, so that it would not be unfair to the Law.

The change would be in the title

And the third line of second paragraph, replace the 14 years old to 17 years, and take the key word by substituting basic.

.Would in this way.

Why most of the young people evade or fail to enroll in secondary schools?

The importance of education beginning in early childhood (between ages 0 and 5 years) has been an emphasis on models developed by education experts. In Brazil, from 4 to 17 years, primary education is compulsory. In 2009, 97.6% of Brazilian children were included. But many 15 year olds have not completed primary school.

ikirimat's picture

I agree with you secondary

I agree with you secondary education is important. Just like in Uganda secondary education is provided but not yet free and compulsory at all levels. Indeed we need compulsory secondary education supoorted.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Valéria Barbosa da Silva's picture

A sad reality.

Dear Ikirima

Every day the labor market requires that young people have more education. If we realize that this young evade the school and / or does not reach the high school or they are arrested without promoting subsequent courses, and are either not registered for the distance to schools, we must intervene and charge the authorities.

There are several issues that do not allow these young people should complete secondary education, when we identify only one that serves as a hypothesis we should talk and find solutions.

We know that the future will become more weakened by the lack of opportunity to learn.


amykessel's picture

These teenagers are the future

Dear Valeria,
Thank you for shedding light on this topic. That Brazil's secondary education is not compulsory, and that the attendance rates are so low, is very bad news. How will the next generation of leaders, the teenagers of today, prepare themselves to take the reins?

What I appreciate most is your wide view of what makes a successful secondary school. Simply requiring kids to be in school does not mean that they will receive quality education. As you say " ...we must invest in a school with more quality, where the family is seen as a partner. A school with interdisciplinary staff, that is able to provide support for the student and his or her family, at the first sign of the possibility of school desertion."

I wonder what sorts of discussions are underway in Brazil and beyond about successful secondary school education. I would like to learn more about alternative models that are proving successful.

I wish you the best of luck in continuing to push for reform to the education system in Brazil.

Great topic, great exploration. Thank you for sharing your views.


Valéria Barbosa da Silva's picture

Dear Amy , Good morning!

Dear friend. Thankfully poar their placements.

In fact the years studies have been extended the country will have until the year 2016 to enforce the law This just does not change the picture of the dropout and repetition of school youth.

There are several problems I have talked with friends, the country is looking for alternatives, but the process is very slow and time waits.

We vocational courses for the NGO I work, I had to offer the course in the grid reinforcement Portuguese, mathematics, philosophy classes, workshops, basic computer, basic English, because of the difficulty of young people to express themselves and understand key content that is basic in Sales. The course is Introduction to the Job Market - Sales.

Inserting this young man to the Labour Market if he barely knows how to express your opinion?

The country needs to have a quality basic education, with well trained teachers, greater involvement of families and supervision and assistance during the permanence of the child until high school.

The elementary school that happens from 1st to 9th grade is closely monitored and has sanction for families who allow their children leave school.

I also realize that there is a difficulty for the teacher to have a look of diagnosis for the child that needs more care. This look is not developed and children with pathological, are repeating series for years, without the opportunity to learn just because they need a little more than a traditional methodology, requiring medical care and therapeutic care specific.

In Rio de Janeiro Schools of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro which aims to make a holistic service to monitor more frequently and has brought improvement to the system this system meets some elementary schools in the same community and is gradually being expanded.

Greengirl's picture

Dear Valeria

I enjoyed reading your piece. That education is key to development, cannot but be over emphasized. Your recommendations are laudable and point to the right direction; and I hope your desire for the City of God comes to fruition.

Best Regards,


Dear Valeria,

Thank you for shining the light on this critical educational issue of secondary education in Brazil for and your future leaders-- young men and women. As many commentators have reaffirmed, you have helped to illuminate and provide alternative vision. Specifically, you have offered an alternative vision on some of the intractable issues related to poverty that cause these cycles to persist, perpetuating the exclusion of potential students from vital knowledge acquisition and empowerment. Your passion comes through and has educated us on what needs to happen-educational/familial partnerships through holistic, systemic solutions. I appreciated your mention of Rio de Janeiro Schools for Tomorrow as you describe your vision for best practices. And thank you too for Foucault reference-he can be hard to decipher at times but you made it clear in your explanation how his work highlighted the role of location in perpetuating oppression. Because of your writing, you have brought much needed attention and more knowledge to each of us in what must happen to break the cycle.

With gratitude and appreciation,

Ellen, the experience of the Word Pulse brings me great improvement in the way of perceiving the issues of oppression and perpetuating the cycle. This does not happen only in communities known as favelas, this occurs for the poorest and least politically and social representativeness.

I have sought to diversify the focus of my action, but without ceasing to feel like the other reflects the action of a power whose focus is not enough to change the fate of the person affected.

I never thought of going to the village indigina. I Traveled 5 hours to get there, I was called to the story is the Word Press. I Collected the material for the next task. The Guarani translator scored a new encounter with the Indians, this time with four Other villages. The subject is education, and the mechanism inclussivo Offers That the government be saying That it is just a divisive system. Where Should the Indian child study in the village to have the school will preserve That Their culture, Whose Thus segregating children must be the future world and not a demarcated area.

I thank you for your words and am very happy about the recognition.
The research Foucault appeals to me and I can understand the meaning of within the school environment. The chosen because of the positive interference with those which we have an obligation to provide conditions for educational development and socio-cultural. That is we are responsible for children who stay for hours "kidnapped" in schools.



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