Education is compulsory in Brazil between ages 7 and 14, and free at state schools too. Children under 6 may attend optionaleducação infantil
before enrolling for 5 years at elementary school known as ensino fundamental – 1.
Following a year achieving literacy they turn their attention to learning Portuguese, geography, history, maths, science, arts and physical education. This core curriculum may be extended to meet local needs, and abilities of individual students.
The curriculum is similar for ensino fundamental – 2,
which lasts for a further 4 years, except that 2 foreign languages (usually English and Spanish) are added. 800 hours of activities are prescribed. Each class is usually still served by a single teacher.
Completion of ensino fundamental phases 1 and 2
are a necessary condition for entering ensino médio
high school. Core subjects include Portuguese, Brazilian and a third language - usually English, plus a wide spread of academic subjects too. In parallel during years 2 and 3 professional training courses
such as agriculture may be added.
Brazil understands that its competitiveness depends to a large extent on the quality of its vocational training. In April 2011, the government announced a bold plan to create 8 million more vocational training opportunities by 2014.
High school education is a prerequisite for entering tertiary institutions, as is a competitive vestibular
entrance examination. Undergraduate bacharelado
degrees require 4 year’s study. School teachers must follow a separate 4 yearlicenciatura
. Others prefer to follow 2 to 4 years of technology training. The normal range of graduate education is offered too.
The country has a fine spread of over 2,600 state and private universities and colleges. The oldest in continuous operation is the Academia de Artilharia, Fortificação e Desenho, founded in 1699 and illustrated on this page.