Representatives of the 34 member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS), international bodies, and financial agencies are participating in the second meeting of the Hemispheric Education Forum, which began today in BrasÀlia.
The objective is to debate the quality of basic education on the American continent and what countries are doing to achieve the goals set in the Education Action Plan, proposed by heads of State and government at the second Summit of the Americas, held in Chile in 1998.
One of the goals is to ensure that at least 75% of young people have access to secondary school.
At the opening of the encounter, the president of the Anísio Teixeira National Institute of Educational Studies and Research (Inep), Eliezer Pacheco, said that Brazil has made significant progress but still needs to do more.
One of the advances he mentioned was the access to fundamental education for more than 97% of children.
“Nevertheless, we made very little progress in terms of the quality of basic education. And, in secondary education, we are a very long way from achieving the goals that were set,” he assessed.
Data from the National Household Sample Survey (Pnad 2003/IBGE) show that 43.1% of the Brazilian population aged 15 to 17 are attending secondary school.
In the view of the Inep president, the government has taken important steps to modify this situation, such as the decision to submit a bill tomorrow, June 14, to the National Congress, raising the number of years for children to remain in fundamental education from eight to nine.
If the bill is approved, children will start school at the age of six instead of seven. The project determines that states and municipalities will have five years to adapt to the new law.
“The increase from eight to nine years can lead to significant improvements in the educational performance of Brazilian children and youth,” affirmed the representative to Brazil of the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO), Jorge Werthein, who is also participating in the forum.
“It is a way to expand the country’s cultural capital,” Werthein emphasizes. The UNESCO representative affirmed that many developing countries have already adopted fundamental education lasting nine years.
The second meeting of the Hemispheric Education Forum runs through Friday, June 17. The meeting is a preparation for the Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Argentina in November.