Colección: La Educación
Número: (117) I
Brazil, although classified as one of the richest countries in Latin America, consistently lags behind its neighbors on most indicators of educational development. In this paper we argue that the main reason for Brazils relative underdevelopment is the predominance of private interests over public purposes in the formulation and implementation of educational policies.
In the first section, the article discusses three instances in which public resources are allocated so as to benefit particular constituencies: (i) the various practices subsumed under the name of clientelismo; (ii) the provision of public subsidies for private schools, coupled with public regulation of private school fees; and (iii) the maintenance of free higher education in public universities.
In the second section, it is argued that political conflict in the educational system does not focus on the definition of policy objectives, but rather on the control of policy instruments. The article then discusses three leading issues in Brazilian school politics: the distribution of resources and responsibilities between central and local authorities, the role of private schools, and the reduction of inequalities in educational attainment, especially across regions.
The authors conclude by discussing recent constitutional and administrative changes which offer possibilities for improvement in the educational system. Among the most important are the emergence of new organizations and administrative practices at state and municipal levels and the establishment of the right to education in the 1988 Constitution.