Over a fifteen-year period, Brazil “transformed its education system”, according to a 2010 OECD report praising the country’s rapid expansion of public education. The growth of access to education and school attendance grew rapidly over those fifteen years: by the time the OECD published its 2010 report, state efforts had succeeded in extending access to basic education to 95 percent of the population using public administration frameworks.
But despite progress in getting children into schools and its status as a middle-income country, Brazil’s schools are still leaving many behind. While overall literacy rates are high – 92.6 percent, according to UNESCO’s 2015 report – functional illiteracy, where students don’t have enough understanding to perform basic, daily tasks involving numeracy, reading, and writing, remains a persistent shadow. Brazil’s 2016 National Literacy Assessment (ANA), released this week, showed that just 55 percent of 8-year-old students demonstrated ‘sufficient’ proficiency in reading and writing.
The same report showed similar findings when it came to numerical literacy.