Achieving goal 02 of the United Nations' millennium development goals : problems and prospects for Brazil : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Education at Massey University
To help fight inequalities and other factors that negatively affect its education system, the Brazilian government has signed many agreements with international agencies, among which are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the United Nations (UN). Through analysis of the world scenario and the global initiatives towards education, this study aims to draw a correlation between the completion of Goal 2 of the MDGs, i.e., achieve universal primary education, and the problems and prospects for Brazil. Indeed, the importance of education to society is unquestionable as it influences many different aspects of life, by helping combat poverty, aiding in development and assisting in health issues, among others. Furthermore, it is crucial not only to the personal development of individuals, but it also provides greater understanding of social rules, which increases understanding of diversity. In a country as big and diverse as Brazil, it is fundamental to take into consideration the cultural, geographic and socio-economic differences in order to find solutions that can be used towards the development of the country. Although the Brazilian government has taken effective measures to ensure that all children have access to primary education, the same cannot be said about its quality, as the numbers in educational exclusion in the country are staggering, with more than 16 million illiterates. The major issues relating to education in the country have to do with the poor quality of what is being provided to the students, and the present study points to many factors that help explain this situation. High repetition and dropout rates mark the country's education system, making it crucial to develop strategies and measures that will assure that students learn effectively. Nevertheless, Brazil's decentralised education system makes it hard to put in practice national changes and implement policies that could help improve the quality of education. Drawn widely from analysis of figures from the Brazilian 2005 school census, the findings revealed that there are many issues that still need to be addressed in order to guarantee that Brazilian students have an equal and just opportunity to learn.