Editorial, by Stone Korshak
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As humanity constantly evolves, it passes through events and modifies behaviors, or the expectations of the events, in an effort to maximize results towards a better future. This is the learning process, and now that the World Cup is over, it’s time to review what happened and look forward.
Of course not everyone experiences the results the same, or has the same goals, and so the world continues to turn. As a whole though, despite the predictions of many, the World Cup mega-event seemed to pass through the twelve host cities in relative success.
There we no infrastructure choke-holds, no stadium collapses (during the games), no mass protests to steal the headlines of football (soccer) pitch action, which the experts applauded as the best ever tournament (I guess because or goals scored, upsets and big individual plays.)
However many would argue not for Brazil, and not just because of their humiliating legacy of the worst ever semifinal match performance or utter disintegration in front of millions at the hands of the Germans. Brazil learned they can spend billions on stadiums soon to be forgotten, many of which opened in incomplete conditions, and reinforced a culture of overspending, under-delivering, and distracting the masses with the circus.
Well, now it’s over, it’s winter in Rio, and life is moving on. Most are licking their wounds and trying not to think too much about the 2016 Olympics, not yet. Businesses are getting back to business, and schools are getting back to school, many are actually in exams at the moment.
The issue of education is one of the main flashpoints in the 2013 protests that gripped the country after a seemingly innocuous bus fair hike. As millions took to the street the government was quick to come up with some promises, in particular a law passed last year by Congress earmarking 75 percent of petroleum royalties and fifty percent of all sub-salt layer oil royalties for education.
Social inequality has long been a stark characteristic of Brazil, and better education is one of the keys to helping move past the lip service of most politicians’ support for wealth distribution. While the current PT (Workers’ Party) government has had plenty of black-eyes from corruption scandals, they have also been strong proponents of the Bolsa Família program and according to the OECD, Brazil’s public investment in education increased steadily during the last decade.
The OECD report published in 2013 said that between 2000 and 2010, public spending on education as a percentage of GDP increased by 2.1 percentage points, from 3.5 percent in 2000 to 5.6 percent in 2010 (which at the time was well below the average for OECD countries of 6.3 percent). According to new reports four years later, currently Brazil allocates 6.4 percent of the country’s GDP to education.
Now, after years of debates in Congress, President Dilma Rousseff signed into law the country’s new ten-year National Educational Plan (PNE). Among the PNE’s goals are investments of ten percent of the country’s GDP in education by 2024. The new Education Minister (since February), Jose Henrique Paim, will certainly have his work cut out for him.
Although enrollment rates in early childhood education have increased between 2005 and 2011, pre-primary education is still too rare in Brazil. OECD reports 57 percent of four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood programs in 2011, compared with an average for OECD countries of 85 percent.
Another area showing Brazil lagging is the enrollment rate of 15-19 year-olds, which has increased from 75 percent in 2007 to 77 percent in 2011, well below the average for OECD countries of of 84 percent. Of course it is not just the government’s responsibility to effect change, and hopefully culturally, with the help of NGO social programs – families will see the value of education and fight to get their kids in school.