K-12 Education System in Brazil

Education in Brazil is managed by a network of ministries and government offices that work jointly at the state, federal, and municipality level. Municipalities are responsible for administering and providing early childhood education, while the states and federal districts are responsible for controlling and providing primary and secondary education. The Federal Government of Brazil controls and maintains the Brazilian educational system through the Ministry of Education. Presently, primary and secondary education in Brazil follows a 9 3 structure. This change was put into action in 2010 as part of the reforms arising from the 1996 -National Education Bases and Guidelines Law (LDB).

Primary education is mandatory and free of charge at public establishments. Pre-primary and secondary education is not mandatory, but is accessible at public institutions free of charge. Private institutions are also available at all education levels and are assessed and authorized by the Ministry of Education.

Basic Education of Brazil

The basic education encompasses:
  • Pre-Primary (early childhood education)
  • Primary Education
  • Secondary Education 

Early Childhood Education 

The Early childhood education encompasses initial education (day care centres, kindergartens, etc.) and pre-school education. This education is not mandatory to attend. The National Education Guidelines and Framework Law (LDB), 1996 establishes the early childhood education as the first stage of basic education. The prime objective of this stage is the overall growth of the child in its physical, intellectual, psychological, linguistics, and socio-cultural facets.    
  • Authority: Municipalities
Initial Education: Comprises of day care centres, or other equivalent schools. Kids up to the age of 3 may attend the initial education.

Pre-School: Also, known as pre-primary schools. It is for kids between the ages 4-5 years. It, basically, introduces the school kind of surroundings to the youngsters. 

Primary Education (Ensino Fundamental)

Primary education is mandatory to attend in Brazil. It lasts for 9 years and includes elementary education as well as lower secondary education. It is compulsory for children aged 6-14 and is offered at free of cost in public educational institutions. It aims to provide basic education to students by means of developing their learning capacity, by the attainment of knowledge, skills and abilities, by developing the ability to learn the fundamentals of reading, writing and math, and understanding of the social, cultural and natural environment. 
  • Authority: Municipalities and States
Primary education is divided into 2 levels-

Ensino Fundamental I

Ensino Fundamental I includes Elementary Education
  • Grade: 1 to 5
  • Age: 6 to 10 years old
Ensino Fundamental II

Ensino Fundamental II includes Lower Secondary Schools
  • Grade: 6-9
  • Age: 11-14 years
Primary Education Core Curriculum: Portuguese language, history, geography, science- physical and biological, mathematics, physical education, arts, social life and ethics, foreign language, and health.  
At Ensino Fundamental I, mathematics, Portuguese, science, arts, social studies and physical education are taught, and at Ensino Fundamental II, one additional compulsory language is taught along with the subjects under Ensino Fundamental I

Secondary Education (Ensino Medio)

Upper Secondary Education
The Upper Secondary Education lasts for 3 years and is not compulsory. It is provided free in public schools. The secondary education focuses on building the foundation of Portuguese language and history, mathematics, and science. It aims to develop and enhance the critical thinking skills, social skills and ethics. It also prepares the students for further education or for employment.  
  • Authority: States
  • Entry Requisite: Students who have finished primary education are eligible for upper secondary education. 
  • Age: 15-17
  • Core Curriculum: Portuguese and foreign language, Brazilian literature, history and geography, science (physics, chemistry and biology), arts, mathematics, health course, physical education, philosophy and sociology.
Vocational and Technological Education
The Vocational and Technological education is covered under 'Upper Secondary Education' and lasts for 4 years, depending upon the course/programme. This is imparted simultaneously with the upper secondary education to students who are interested in getting training in specific fields. This level of education develops the professional skills and even prepares them for further education. They can take the university entrance exam and enroll in higher education courses. 
  • Age: 15-17
  • Authority: States

School Term

According to the Law No. 9.394 of 1996, the school year must have 200 days of actual work (excluding examination period). At the primary and secondary educational level, there must be at least 800 instructional hours per year and minimum of 4 hours of instruction per day.
The academic year generally commences in early February, but this depends upon when the Carnival falls that particular year. If the Carnival  occurs at the start of the month, the school term will start immediately following the Carnival and if it occurs at the end of the month, school term will start in the beginning of February and have a short break for the Carnival celebrations.

This first term of the year goes on till the end of June. The second term begins in early August and runs until early December when the school summer/Christmas holiday begins to clash with the Recesso. 

The regional education authorities regulate the grading scale at the secondary stage. The most common grading scale ten point scale is used 0.00-10.00 in which 5 is the minimum passing grade. Some institutions consider 6 as the minimum passing grade.
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