Brazil is moving to expand its basic education system (elementary schooling) to 9 years, the same as in other Mercosur countries. This means that by the time a student completes high school, he will have had 12 years of study, not the 11 years he gets today in Brazil.
The 9-year elementary system is already in effect in some municipalities in the states of Sergipe, Rio Grande do Norte, Amazonas, Goiás and Minas Gerais.
“The idea is to standardize a number of activities in Mercosur and one of them is education. That way diplomas can have the same value throughout the economic block,” explains Francisco das Chagas, the secretary for Basic Education at the Ministry of Education.
Another objective is to continue to universalize education in Brazil, he says.
Chagas reports that funding for the change will be available through the Fundef project (Fundo de Manutenção e Desenvolvimento do Ensino Fundamental e de Valorização do Magistério) which is aimed specifically at improving teaching and teachers at the basic level.
He says the pedagogical aspects of the change are important and will also be dealt with.
With the change children will enter school a year earlier, at the age of six, which is expected to have the biggest impact on low-income family children who study in public schools.
Fernando Haddad, the executive secretary at the ministry, points out that the failure rate in the first year of elementary education in public schools is extremely high exactly because children coming from poor families have no preparation, while children from high-income families start school at the age of four, or even, three, and are better prepared.
“An important aspect of this is that public schools will offer children from low-income families an addition year of schooling,” declared Haddad.
Meanwhile, Adeum Sauer, president of the National Union of Municipal Education Managers, praised the measure, saying his organization has always been in favor of the expansion.
But he warns that care must be taken to ensure that the change includes changes in subject matter so that children who now enter at six are not going to get classes intended for seven-year olds.
Translator: Allen Bennett