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A few years ago, Brazil still had a fairly cost-ineffective education system. Significant improvements have been achieved in recent years, but progress with respect to the quality of education at both the elementary and secondary levels is slow. Today Brazil spends 4.3% of GDP on education, but spending per student is low given the youthful population skew, the large amount of resources directed toward tertiary education and high spending on teacher’s pensions. The educational system suffers from the highest repetition rate in Latin America and low education attainment. Individuals more than 15 years old have on average only 4.8 years of schooling. The situation is worse for the poor, who tend to enter the system late, leave early and repeat more grades. By age 15, poor youths have completed three years less schooling than the non-poor. The quality of education is a key issue: Over half of Brazil’s 15-year-old students are functionally illiterate and close to 80% fail to perform at basic levels of mathematical competency. The situation is even worse considering that these tests don’t include those who are not attending school.



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