Emily Gustafsson-Wright – The Brookings Institution, 7/23/2014
In an interview with Inter-American Dialogue, Emily Gustafsson-Wright discusses Brazil’s new National Education Plan, which sets forth 20 goals that the country aims to achieve over the next decade. Read the full interview here.
Brazil’s National Education Plan is indeed ambitious. With 20 targets ranging from universalizing access to early childhood education by 2016 to expanding enrollments at the post-graduate level, the federal government has set its sights high in an effort to address the issues of low PISA scores and large inequalities in educational access and quality in terms of geography, race and income. This is not the first time that the Brazilian government has proposed audacious education goals, however.
In 1998, it adopted a radical reform of education financing (FUNDEF and later FUNDEB) to equalize spending per student, and the record shows impressive progress resulted. In 2005, it set the target of raising learning outcomes to OECD levels by 2021 and put in place a highquality national assessment system to monitor and publicize the progress of every state, municipality and school in the country. But this time, a disconcerting factor is the outsized emphasis on spending more rather than spending better. A target to increase public education spending to 10 percent of GDP within a decade is beyond what any developed or developing country has found sustainable: the OECD average of 5.8 percent and Brazil’s current average of 5.7 percent are little more than half that. Where that money will come from, at least in part, was confirmed by President Dilma Rousseff when she signed a law that earmarks 75 percent of oil royalties for education. How it will be distributed and spent effectively is less clear.