• Although women in Brazil are more likely to have attained tertiary education than men, they are less likely to be employed.

  • Education outcomes tend to vary significantly depending on students’ socio-economic background. In Brazil, there are only about 5 socio-economically disadvantaged students scoring above PISA level 2 in reading for every 10 advantaged students scoring above this level.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about young adults’ employment prospects, especially at lower levels of educational attainment. In Brazil, the unemployment rate among young adults with below upper secondary education was 17.8% in 2020, 3 percentage points higher than the previous year.

  • Although Brazil invests a relatively high share of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, expenditure per student remains below the OECD average.

  • The school environment influences teachers’ decision to enter and remain in the teaching profession. Class sizes have decreased in recent years in Brazil, but teacher salaries remain below average.

  • In most OECD countries, men are more likely than women to pursue a vocational track. This is not the case in Brazil, where 56% of upper secondary vocational graduates in 2019 were women (compared to the OECD average of 45%). Women were also overrepresented in upper secondary general programmes in Brazil, where they made up 54% of graduates (compared to 55% on average across OECD countries) (Figure 1). When interpreting these results, it is worth noting that vocational students only represent 9% of upper secondary graduates in Brazil, compared to 38% on average across OECD countries.

  • Tertiary education has been expanding in the last decades, and, in 2020, 25-34 year-old women were more likely than men to achieve tertiary education in all OECD countries. In Brazil, 27% of 25-34 year-old women had a tertiary qualification in 2018 compared to 20% of their male peers, while on average across OECD countries the shares were 52% among young women and 39% among young men.

  • Although women are more likely to attain tertiary education than men, they are less likely to be employed. On average across OECD countries, 80% of tertiary-educated women (aged 25-34) were employed in 2018, compared to 87% of their male counterparts. Similarly, in Brazil, employment rates go from 77% for young women with a tertiary education to 85% for men.

  • The gender employment gap is higher among individuals with lower levels of educational attainment. In Brazil, only 35% of 25-34 year-old women with below upper secondary attainment were employed in 2018, compared to 69% of men. This gender difference is higher than the average across OECD countries, where 43% of women and 69% of men with below upper secondary attainment are employed.

  • Ensuring equitable access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) can be crucial in promoting equity, as children’s early experiences can strongly influence future life outcomes such as education, employment, health, citizenship and life satisfaction (OECD, 2018[1]). In Brazil, between 2015 and 2019, enrolment in ECEC increased by 4 percentage points for children under the age of 3 and by 7 percentage points for children aged 3 to 5. By 2019, the enrolment rate for 3-year-olds in Brazil had reached the same level as the OECD average (25%), and it was slightly above average for 3-to-5-year-olds (at 84%).

  • Across most OECD and partner countries, socio-economic status influences learning outcomes more than gender and immigrant status. In Brazil, the proportion of children from the bottom quartile of the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS) achieving at least PISA level 2 in reading in 2018 was 55% lower than that of children from the top ESCS quartile, compared to 29% lower on average across OECD countries. This is one of the largest performance gaps among countries with available data. Several initiatives, however, have been taken as an attempt to improve everyone’s literacy outcomes. For instance, the “Time to learn” programme (“Tempo de Aprender”) was implemented to raise the quality of literacy teaching and learning through professional development, pedagogical supports, literacy assessment, and performance-related financial rewards for literacy professionals (OECD, 2021[2]).

  • In Brazil, only 20% of graduates at the bachelor’s level obtained a degree from a public institution in 2019, which is well below the OECD average of 66%. This low percentage may reflect, in part, the competitive admission system for public institutions, which tend to have higher prestige and outcomes. There can be equity concerns, however, knowing that advantaged students, who often come from higher-performing schools or are able to afford private tutoring, are more likely to attend public institutions. As an attempt to address these equity concerns, Brazil passed the “Quota Law” (“Lei das Cotas”) in 2012, which reserves 50% of the spots in public universities for students from public schools, including 25% from families earning up to 1.5 times the minimum wage per capita (Presidência da República, 2012).

  • Students from lower-income countries are generally less likely to benefit from an experience studying abroad. In 2019, 29% of international students in OECD countries came from low and lower-middle income countries. In Brazil, this percentage is higher, at 35%, and the highest share of international tertiary students come from Angola. When interpreting these results, however, it is important to keep in mind that less than 1% of tertiary students in Brazil are foreign (compared to 6% in total across OECD countries).

  • The spread of COVID-19 has continued to impede access to in-person education in many countries around the world in 2021. By mid-May 2021, 37 OECD and partner countries had experienced periods of full school closure since the start of 2020.

  • The impact of COVID-19 and school closures on educational equity has been a concern for many countries. 30 out of the 36 OECD and partner countries surveyed, including Brazil, declared that additional measures were taken to support the education of children who might face additional barriers to learning during the pandemic. A number of countries stated that they had subsidised devices for students to help them access education. In Brazil, for instance, the state of Goiás’ Electronic Equipment Reconditioning Programme donated refurbished computers and devices to schools and organisations for students without an internet connection (OECD, 2021[2]). Measures to encourage disadvantaged or vulnerable students to return to school after closures were also implemented in 29 OECD and partner countries, including in Brazil. For example, in Goiás, a meal distribution programme was implemented to mitigate school dropout, by offering food deliveries conditional on class attendance and assignment completion (OECD, 2021[2]).

  • Countries have faced difficult decisions on how to best manage their resources to ensure that students can continue to access quality education in the safest possible conditions and to minimise disruption to learning. Before the pandemic, total public expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education in Brazil reached 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, which was higher than the OECD average of 3.2%. About two-thirds of OECD and partner countries reported increases in the funding allocated to primary and secondary schools to help them cope with the crisis in 2020. Compared to the previous year, Brazil reported no change in the fiscal year education budget for primary and lower secondary general education in both 2020 and 2021.

  • The impact of the pandemic on the economy has raised concerns about the prospects of young adults, especially those leaving education earlier than others. In Brazil, the unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary attainment was 17.8% in 2020, an increase of 3 percentage points from the previous year. This was a higher increase than the OECD average, where the youth unemployment rate of 15.1% in 2020 represented an increase of 2 percentage points from 2019 (Figure 2).

  • Annual public expenditure per student on educational institutions provides an indication of the public investment countries make on each student. In 2018, Brazil spent less on primary to tertiary educational institutions per full-time student than the OECD average, investing a total of USD 3 256 per student compared to USD 10 000 on average across OECD countries. The level of expenditure in Brazil is, however, in line with the expenditure observed in other Latin American countries, such as Argentina (USD 3 560), Chile (USD 4 279), Colombia (USD 2 445) and Mexico (USD 2 684).

  • The provision of education influences the allocation of public resources to public educational institutions between levels of education. In 2018, Brazil spent USD 3 748 public funds per student at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, USD 6 353 lower than the OECD average of USD 10 101. At tertiary level Brazil invested USD 14 427 per student, slightly above the OECD average (USD 13 855).

  • The share of public expenditure devoted to educational institutions over the national wealth is higher in Brazil than on average among OECD countries. In 2018, public expenditure in Brazil reached 5% of its GDP on primary to tertiary educational institutions, which is 0.9 percentage points higher than the OECD average.

  • Teachers’ actual salaries reflect their statutory salaries and additional work-related payments. Average actual salaries also depend on the characteristics of the teaching population such as their age, level of experience and qualification level. In Brazil, teachers’ average actual salaries amount to USD 25 030 at the pre-primary level (ISCED 02), USD 25 366 at the primary level, USD 25 740 at the general lower secondary level and USD 26 724 at the general upper secondary level. On average across OECD countries, teachers’ average actual salaries were USD 40 707, USD 45 687, USD 47 988 and USD 51 749 at the pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary level respectively (Figure 3).

  • Given budget constraints, countries often face a trade-off between increasing teacher salaries and hiring more teachers in order to reduce class sizes. In Brazil, class sizes in primary and lower secondary education have been decreasing between 2013 and 2019, from 23 to 20 students per class in primary education, and from 28 to 26 in lower secondary education. As of 2019, the class size in Brazil was below the OECD average (21) at the primary level, while it remained above the OECD average (23) at the lower secondary level.

  • Women are over-represented among primary, lower secondary and upper secondary teachers (representing respectively 82%, 68% and 60% of teachers at these levels on average across OECD countries in 2019). However, women are under-represented in tertiary education (44% of tertiary teachers on average). In Brazil, the proportion of female teachers ranged from 88% at the primary level to 66% at lower secondary level, 57% at upper secondary level, and 46% at the tertiary level in 2019.

  • In primary and secondary education, about 35% of teachers on average across OECD countries will reach retirement age in the next decade, while the size of the school-age population is projected to increase in some countries, putting many governments under pressure to recruit and train new teachers. In 2019, 22% of primary teachers in Brazil were at least 50 years old, which was lower than the OECD average of 33%. On average across OECD countries, the proportion of teachers aged at least 50 years old increases with higher levels of education taught, to 36% in lower secondary education and 40% in upper secondary education. In Brazil, this proportion varies from 23% at lower secondary level to 24% at upper secondary level.


OECD (2021), Education at a Glance 2021: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2021), “Regional education”, OECD Regional Statistics (database), (accessed on 27 July 2021).

OECD (2021), Education Policy Outlook: Brazil – With a Focus on National and Subnational Policies, available at:

OECD (2021), “The state of global education – 18 months into the pandemic”, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2018), Early Learning Matters, OECD, Paris,

Presidência da República (2012), Lei Nº 12.711, de 29 de agosto de 2012 [Law No. 12.711, 29 August 2012], Presidência da República, Brasilia, (accessed on 09 September 2021).

For more information on Education at a Glance 2021 and to access the full set of Indicators, see:

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 (

For general information on the methodology, please refer to the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications (

Updated data can be found on line at and by following the StatLinks 2under the tables and charts in the publication.

Data on subnational regions for selected indicators are available in the OECD Regional Statistics (database) (OECD, 2021). When interpreting the results on subnational entities, readers should take into account that the population size of subnational entities can vary widely within countries. 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:

The data on educational responses during COVID-19 were collected and processed by the OECD based on the Survey on Joint 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.

This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.

This document, as well as any data and any map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the terms and conditions to be found at

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at