Education in Brazil: Studying the world

The Economist – from the print edition, 03/17/2012

Dilma and tomorrow’s scientists

SELLING her country’s technological prowess and booming IT market was the main order of business for Dilma Rousseff at a big trade fair in Hanover on March 5th. But Brazil’s president made sure to pose for photographs with young compatriots who last month began to study at German universities under her government’s new scholarship programme, Science Without Borders.

By the end of 2015 more than 100,000 Brazilians—half of them undergraduates, half doctoral students—will have spent a year or so abroad at the best universities around the world studying subjects such as biotechnology, ocean science and petroleum engineering which the government regards as essential for the nation’s future. That will cost 3 billion reais ($1.65 billion), a quarter of which will come from businesses and the rest from the Brazilian taxpayer.

Science Without Borders is Brazil’s boldest attempt to move up an economic gear. The country’s trend rate of growth, at 4-4.5%, is slightly below the Latin American average and far slower than in the other BRIC countries. Officials hope that improving the quality of the workforce could make a big difference, though it will take time to have an effect.

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