April 19, 2024

Teaching: A World View

Five Stories: Teaching in Brazil

Mike Vogel | 5/28/2019

‘Serious Crisis of Values’

Ana Paula Giraux Leitão, 52, is the principal of a campus of one of Brazil’s most extraordinary schools, Colégio Pedro II, a historic school of 14 campuses in Rio de Janeiro run by the federal government — unusual in Brazil. She got the job when fellow teachers, staff and student families elected her to the post.

The school is much in demand by Rio parents. Teachers must pass exams to get hired. Most have master’s and doctorates. Her 480-student campus is for elementary school, ages 6 to 12. First-year students are 20 to a class. After that, it’s 25 each. It caters to students with special needs. As part of the federal government, “Colégio Pedro II’s teachers are privileged in comparison to other Brazilian” teachers, she says.

“Work with education is challenging but very rewarding, and our achievements are bigger and more important than defeats,” Leitão says.

Education in Brazil

Brazil’s 30 million students are educated in a highly decentralized system in which states and municipalities finance primary and lower secondary schools and municipalities run them. Upper secondary schools are run by the states. Because of crowding, many schools run in shifts. Private schools, especially for learning a foreign language, are prevalent. There also are co-ops owned by teachers, schools run by the military and federal government schools. Historically, teachers were required to have only a high school degree, but the national government has called for teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree, as is required of secondary school teachers.

Young, Part-Timers

Teachers in Brazil are more likely than peers globally to pay for their own professional development. Only 40% work full time — half the developed world average. Brazil teachers are younger than average. The average salary in Brazil for teachers from age 25 to retirement ranges from $22,000 for pre-primary to $24,100 in upper secondary. The developed world averages are $36,900 to $45,900.

Class Sizes

Class sizes have been decreasing but still average 23 students in primary and 27 in lower secondary, both above developed world averages of 21 and 23. Brazilian teachers report more discipline problems and spending more time maintaining order than their peers globally.


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