BRIEF November 7, 2019

Education and Competitiveness in Brazil

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While Brazil has seen declining rates of learning poverty over the past 10 years, largely due to its efforts in primary school, it still faces a learning poverty rate of 48%. That means that 48% of Brazilian 10-year-olds cannot read and understand a simple story.

At a recent event organized by Todos Pela Educação and ITAU-BBA, Jaime Saavedra, Global Director of Education at the World Bank, delivered a keynote address where he introduced the goals of the Human Capital Project and the Learning Poverty Target globally. Before an audience of private sector, politicians, and civil society, he presented the Bank’s new learning poverty data and specific findings for Brazil. He explained that quality education has large returns for productivity and competitiveness and how currently Brazil is not performing up to par with other countries of its income level.


"Brazil could increase education quality and labor productivity by expanding quality early childhood education with a smart involvement of the private sector, reforming pre-service and practical teacher training, a general overhaul to professionalize the teaching career, and by providing more equitable financing and support to municipalities."
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Jaime Saavedra
Global Director,World Bank Education

His remarks were echoed by other presenters including Priscila Cruz, Executive President and Co-Founder of Todos Pela Educação, who stressed the importance of investing in people, and Rodrigo Maia, President of the National Congress, who  mentioned the need to ensure more efficiency in public spending in education.


Eliminating learning poverty, however, cannot be the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Education. It will require a multi-sectoral, whole of government approach. To explore the practicalities of making education a priority across the country, Saavedra participated in a panel “Educação como prioridade nacional." Joined by Ana Carla Abrão, Head of Oliver Wyman, Marcos Magalhães, President and Founder, Instituto de Corresponsabilidade pela Educação, Paulo Hartung, Former Governor of Espiritu Santo, and chaired by  João Marcelo Borges, Director of Political Strategy, Todos Pela Educação participants discussed the importance of applying the lessons from successful state-level reforms in Ceará, Pernambuco, and Espiritu Santo.