By Ruth Faulkner, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This week the international group OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) published its global school rankings report which saw Brazil come in at sixty, based on rankings of Maths and Science test scores at age fifteen.

Students in classroom in São Paulo, education, schools, Brazil, Brazil News
Students in classroom in São Paulo, photo by André Gomes de Melo/Agencia Brasil.

Being the first time that the OECD has ever been able to collect data in many world countries, the report is its most far-reaching ever and shows a clear picture of the different levels of education around the world. Sitting at sixtieth out of 75, Brazil is in the lowest category of countries for its education, alongside countries like Peru, Botswana, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Ahead of Brazil are fellow South-American countries, Chile, at 48, Costa Rica, at 52 and Uruguay at 55. The top four countries in the world are Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, in that order, with the UK coming in at twenty and the U.S. at 28.

Challenges in Brazil’s education system are well documented, with pre-primary education rare and teachers strikes having been seen regularly over recent years. Upon being sworn in, President Rousseff promised to prioritize education, adding that the education sector will see new funding from revenues from petroleum royalties and the exploration of the sub-salt layer.

The OECD report also examined the effect that education has on GDP and economic growth potential. The report, written by Eric Hanushek from Stanford University and Ludger Woessmann from Munich University, argues that the standard of education is a “powerful predictor of the wealth that countries will produce in the long run”. The report adds, “Poor education policies and practices leave many countries in what amounts to a permanent state of economic recession.”

Brazil is one of the countries in the world that the report considered has ‘most growth potential’ for its education and thus its corresponding GDP. The report assessed that if all fifteen-year-olds in Brazil achieved the basic level of education then the GDP would increase over those pupils’ lifetimes by 751 percent. Other South American countries also have a high growth predictor, with Peru assessed as having a growth potential of 1076 percent and Colombia with a growth potential of 910 percent.

The report will provide evidence for next week’s World Education Forum, which will look at how reaching education targets can lead to economic growth. The conference marks fifteen years since the last education targets were set by world leaders, many not fully achieved, and aims to finish with another round targets in place for the next fifteen years.

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