Brazil

  • There are large differences in educational attainment across subnational regions in Brazil. In 2015, the difference between the region with the highest share of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary attainment (Distrito Federal (BR), at 32%) and that with the lowest share (Maranhão, at 7%) was 25 percentage points.

  • Only a small fraction of the Brazilian population holds a master’s degree (0.8%) and even fewer hold a doctoral degree (0.3%).

  • While the positive link between educational attainment and employment rates holds for both men and for women, it is particularly strong for women. In Brazil, 37% of women with below upper secondary attainment were employed in 2021, compared to 78% of those with tertiary attainment. In contrast, the figures were 75% and 87% for men.

  • Many tertiary students do not graduate on time or do not graduate at all. In Brazil, 33% of bachelor’s students graduate within the theoretical programme duration, 49% of bachelor’s students have graduated within three years after the end of the theoretical programme duration. Tertiary completion rates are higher for women than for men.

  • Over the decades, independent private institutions have been established to meet increased demand for tertiary education. In Brazil, 75% of tertiary students are enrolled in independent private institutions.

  • The average number of teaching hours per year required from a typical teacher in public educational institutions in OECD countries tends to decrease as the level of education increases. In contrast, teachers at all levels of education have to teach the same number of hours in Brazil (800 hours).

  • Among 25-64 year-olds in Brazil, bachelor's degrees and short-cycle tertiary qualifications are the most common tertiary attainment at 20% of the population each followed by master's degrees with 1%. This is similar to the OECD average, where bachelor’s degrees are most common (19%), followed by master’s degrees (14%) and short cycle tertiary qualifications (7%). As in all OECD countries and other participants, only a small fraction of the population holds a doctoral degree: the share is less than 1% in Brazil.

  • Despite the labour market advantages of a tertiary degree, many tertiary students do not graduate on time or do not graduate at all. In Brazil, 33% of bachelor’s students graduate within the theoretical programme duration. Across the OECD, the completion rate within the theoretical programme duration ranges from 12% to 69%. Completion rates three years after the theoretical programme duration are significantly higher in most countries and the differences between OECD countries somewhat narrower. In Brazil, 49% of bachelor’s students have graduated within three years after the end of the theoretical programme duration, compared to 68% on average across the OECD.

  • In all OECD countries, tertiary completion rates are higher for women than for men. In Brazil, 52% of women graduated within three years after the end of the theoretical programme duration at bachelor’s level, compared to 44% of men.

  • OECD countries have different approaches to providing financial support to students enrolled in tertiary education, but in general countries with the highest level of public transfers to the private sector are those that also tend to have the highest tuition fees. In six OECD countries and other participants, at least 80% of national students receive public financial support in the form of student loans, scholarships or grants. In another six countries and other participants, less than 25% of students receive financial support. In these countries, public financial support is targeted on selected groups of students, such as those from socio-economically disadvantaged families.

  • Over the decades, independent private institutions have been established to meet increased demand for tertiary education. On average across the OECD, 17% of students are enrolled in independent private institutions, but this figure masks large differences between countries. In Brazil, 75% of tertiary students are enrolled in such institutions. Independent private institutions charge higher annual tuition fees on average than public institutions for master’s programmes in all OECD countries and other participants with available data, except in Chile and Lithuania.

  • Staff at tertiary level tend to start their careers relatively late due to the length of the education they need to qualify. In Brazil, only 4% of academic staff are aged under 30, below the OECD average (8%). In contrast, the share of academic staff aged 50 or over is 34%, which is below the OECD average by 6 percentage points.

  • Upper secondary attainment is often seen as a minimum qualification for successful labour market participation. Although the general increase in educational attainment has seen a parallel decline in the share of 25-34 year-olds without upper secondary attainment, 14% of young adults across the OECD still left school without an upper secondary qualification. In Brazil, the share is 29%, which is higher than the OECD average.

  • Higher educational attainment is often associated with better employment prospects and Brazil is no exception. In 2021 the employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education in Brazil was 24 percentage points higher than among those with below upper secondary attainment and 14 percentage points higher than among those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment. On average across OECD countries, the employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a tertiary qualification was 26 percentage points higher than among those with below upper secondary attainment and 8 percentage points higher than among those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment. While the positive link between educational attainment and employment rates holds for both men and for women across the OECD, it is particularly strong for women. In Brazil, 37% of women with below upper secondary attainment were employed in 2021, compared to 78% of those with tertiary attainment. In contrast, the figures were 75% and 87% for men.

  • Across the OECD, the labour market benefits of tertiary attainment have proved especially strong during economic crises. This was also the case during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. Between 2019 and 2020, unemployment for 25-34 year-old workers with below upper secondary attainment increased by 2.7 percentage points, by 1.6 percentage points for workers with upper secondary attainment and by 1.8 percentage points for workers with tertiary attainment. In 2021, unemployment for workers with below upper secondary attainment increased by 0.6 percentage points, compared to 2020 by 0.9 percentage points for workers with upper secondary attainment and decreased by 0.2 percentage points for workers with tertiary attainment.

  • Educational attainment affects not just employment prospects, but also wage levels. On average across the OECD, 25-64 year-old workers with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment earn 29% more than workers with below upper secondary attainment, while those with tertiary attainment earn about twice as much. In Brazil, the earnings advantage of tertiary-educated workers was even greater than the OECD average. In 2020, workers with upper secondary attainment earned 49% more than those with below upper secondary attainment and those with tertiary attainment earned more than three times as much.

  • National averages provide only an incomplete picture of the situation in any given country. In most OECD countries, there are large differences in educational attainment across subnational regions. This is also the case in Brazil. In 2015, the difference between the region with the highest share of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary attainment (Distrito Federal (BR), at 32%) and that with the lowest share (Maranhão, at 7%) was 25 percentage points. These subnational variations do not only reflect differences in education opportunities. To a large degree, they are due to economic conditions and internal migration patterns.

  • Compulsory education begins at the age of 4 and ends at the age of 17 in Brazil. The range of ages for which at least 90% of the population are enrolled is shorter than the period of compulsory education and goes from the age of 5 to the age of 15. This differs from most other OECD countries, where more than 90% of the population are enrolled for longer than the period of compulsory education.

  • The age at which children enter early childhood education differs widely across countries. In Brazil, early childhood education starts offering intentional education objectives for children younger than 1 and 21% of children under 3 are enrolled in early childhood education. Across OECD countries, the average enrolment rate among children below the age of 3 is 27%, but the rates range from less than 1% to 63%. The enrolment rate among 3-5 year-olds increases substantially in all OECD countries. In Brazil, 74% of all children of this age are enrolled in early childhood education, which is below the OECD average.

  • The average age of graduation from general upper secondary programmes varies from 17 to 21 years across OECD countries and is 19 years in Brazil. Differences in the average age of graduation from vocational upper secondary education are much larger and vary from 16 to 34 years across the OECD. These differences largely depend on whether vocational upper secondary students usually enrol in these programmes towards the end of their compulsory education or in mid-career. In Brazil, the average age of graduation from vocational upper secondary education is 20 years, which is below the OECD average at 22 years (Figure 1).

  • In almost all OECD countries, women make up the majority of those graduating from general upper secondary education. In Brazil, the share is 54% (OECD average 55%). In contrast, men are overrepresented among graduates of vocational upper secondary programmes in most OECD countries, but not in Brazil where they make up 43% of all vocational upper secondary graduates, below the OECD average (55%).

  • In Brazil, 34% of 18-24 year-olds are still in full- or part-time education or training at either upper secondary or tertiary level (significantly below the OECD average of 54%). A subset of these students (12% of 18-24 year-olds) combine their education or training with some form of employment in Brazil, compared to 17% on average across the OECD.

  • One significant difference across countries’ education systems is on whether or not vocational upper secondary programmes provide access to tertiary education. In 12 OECD countries and other participants, including Brazil, all vocational upper secondary graduates have direct access to tertiary education.

  • As is the case in all OECD countries, a majority of students enrolled at tertiary level in Brazil are bachelor’s students (97%). However, the next commonest enrolment level varies from country to country. In Brazil, master's students make up the second largest group of tertiary students at 2%. This is also the case in 25 other OECD countries, while in the remaining 14 countries with available data, short-cycle tertiary students form the second largest group.

  • Public spending on primary to tertiary education as a percentage of total government expenditure was 14% in Brazil (Figure 2), higher than the OECD average of 10.6%.

  • The average number of teaching hours per year required from a typical teacher in public educational institutions in OECD countries tends to decrease as the level of education increases. In contrast, teachers at all levels of education have to teach the same number of hours in Brazil.

  • Based on official regulations or agreements, annual teaching hours in Brazil are 800 hours per year at pre-primary level, 800 hours at primary level, 800 hours at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 800 hours at upper secondary level (general programmes) (Figure 3). Since 2017, the minimum workload in upper secondary education in Brazil has progressively changed to 1000 hours, as established by Law No. 13,415, of 2017.

  • Continuing professional development is compulsory for all teachers of general programmes in most countries with data, and Brazil is no exception. At secondary level, professional development activities are compulsory for all teachers.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional schooling in 2020 and the first half of 2021, leading to school closures across all OECD countries. While most shut down their premises entirely in the wake of the pandemic in 2020, by 2021 the situation had improved and returned to normal in most countries in 2022. In Brazil, primary and secondary schools were entirely closed for 178 days in 2020 and stayed open in 2022 (Figure 4).

  • National examinations have also been affected by the pandemic. At general upper secondary level, 18 OECD countries postponed their national examinations during the school year 2019/20, while 10 countries even cancelled them entirely. In 2020/21, national examinations were postponed in 9 countries and cancelled in 6 countries. Brazil rescheduled its national examinations in 2020.

  • In school year 2022, national programmes to support students affected by the pandemic were implemented in Brazil at, primary, lower secondary level. At primary to upper secondary education, measures to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic included, adjustments to subject curricula, early warning systems to identify students at risk of dropping out, automatic re-enrolment of students in school, increased instruction time through summer schools, extended school days or the school week or academic year.

References

OECD (2022), Education at a Glance 2022: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/69096873-en.

OECD (2022), “Regional education”, OECD Regional Statistics (database), https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/213e806c-en.

For more information on Education at a Glance 2022 and to access the full set of Indicators, see: https://doi.org/10.1787/b35a14e5-en

For more information on the methodology used during the data collection for each indicator, the references to the sources and the specific notes for each country, see Annex 3 (https://www.oecd.org/education/education-at-a-glance/EAG2022_X3.pdf).

For general information on the methodology, please refer to the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications (https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264304444-en).

Updated data can be found on line at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-data-en and by following the StatLinks under the tables and charts in the publication.

Data on subnational regions for selected indicators are available in the OECD Regional Statistics (database) (OECD, 2022). When interpreting the results on subnational entities, readers should take into account that the population size of subnational entities can vary widely within countries. For example, regional variation in enrolment may be influenced by students attending school in a different region from their area of residence, particularly at higher levels of education. Also, regional disparities tend to be higher when more subnational entities are used in the analysis.

Explore, compare and visualise more data and analysis using the Education GPS:

https://gpseducation.oecd.org/

The data on educational responses during COVID-19 were collected and processed by the OECD based on the Joint Survey on National Responses to COVID-19 School Closures, a collaborative effort conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the World Bank; and the OECD.

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