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Vol 106 / Issue 30

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focus: Brazil By Whitney Eulich / Staf writer Rio de janeiRo A t midday, the long, narrow hallway of Marechal Alcides Etchegoyen school in Rio de Janeiro floods with students and instructors jockeying for space. A gaggle of 13-year-old girls sporting bubble gum-pink lipstick and matching side- swept bangs surges toward the front door, a poster reading "knowledge is power" fluttering in their wake. On the surface, this scene could be from a school in Miami or Lisbon. But it's not yet noon and these students are finished for the day. Some teachers, just done with five morning classes, are dashing off to repeat the effort in afternoon shifts at other public schools. Brazil's economy and its schools are get- ting precariously out of alignment. The country has boomed its way to becoming the world's seventh largest economy. Household incomes have grown by a third over the past decade. Though it's an upper-middle-income country on par with Turkey or Mexico, the quality of its primary schools ranks below the likes of impov- erished Madagascar and Haiti. Brazil has a highly educated upper class and boasts some of the best public universities in Latin America. Yet school more broadly does not hold a treasured place here. Most students attend class for only four hours a day. Making kids repeat grades is a common teaching tactic, and teacher training lags behind international standards. Teachers often rush from one school to another to cobble together a full-time job. Indeed, many teachers and politicians have long held the view that all Brazilians didn't need or weren't entitled to an education, says Barbara Bruns, an education economist at the World Bank. Even former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who only completed fourth grade and called the presidency his "first degree," was prone to bragging about his lack of schooling. The idea that education can open doors to a better future "isn't a historically Brazilian story line," says José Márcio Camargo, a labor econ- omist and professor at the Pontifícia Universi- dade Católica in Rio de Janeiro. A new culture of learning? Public education is winning more advocates – just in time. day's end: Schoolgirls make their way home in Rio de Janeiro. Despite persistent overcrowding, Brazil aims to get more children into schools with full eight-hour days. Melanie StetSon FReeMan/StaFF/File The world's seventh largest economy has witnessed slowing growth, and Brazil's populace needs 21st-century skills to remain competitive. That realization could drive a broader bid to reverse a mind-set that devalued education – further lifting the poor and the growing middle class, and benefting the global economy. WHY IT MATTERS V VNEXT PAGE 18 The ChrisTian sCienCe MoniTor Weekly | June 16, 2014

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