Brazil’s growth problem and how to (start to) fix it

2015 is going to be a hard year for Brazil. With 2014 GDP growth near zero, our economy will struggle to get back on its feet. During the last few days, new offices took place in our states and the federal government (second turn of our president, Dilma Rousseff), and governors have already announced cut in states’ expenses, going from 20% to 35, 40%.

What can be done to make Brazil grow again?

Well, I’m not an economist, not even close. But I know that Brazil’s growth in the last decade was due to a series of fortunate events, inside and outside our country, and these fortunate events helped, somehow, hide our major problems. We were doing well, everyone was happy, so no one paid attention.

Now, to make Brazil grow, in my humble opinion, we need to face these problems and fight them as hard as we can. I’m referring to two things: low productivity and corruption. And both of them are related to the one big problem: education.

So, to those of two who aren’t familiar with Brazil’s educational system, let’s take a quick glimpse.

The best feature of it is, for sure, our Universities and Colleges, especially public Universities and Colleges. Most of our best Universities are public and free. That is to say that we don’t have to pay a lot of money and get doubts in order to get a good education (and private Universities aren’t as expensive as the ones we observe worldwide). Ok, it is not all democratic yet, there are a lot of problems, but avoids many other economic problems, so that’s great. And there’s good quality research going on, technology being produced.

The real challenge is in our preschools, primary schools and secondary schools. For instance, data released by NGO Todos pela Educação (in portuguese)  showed that only 9.3% of students on High School senior year learned what they were supposed to have learned in Maths in 2013. This pattern appears  in all other grades as well. This is due to a whole approach to early education.

It needs to change.

I am convinced that the main reason our productivity levels are low is the bad quality of early education. If students don’t learn what they’re supposed to learn in the right time, they’ll carry difficulties with them all along, making it much harder to get Professional training and even to get a undergraduate diploma at the University.

I believe corruption is directly related to this issue as well. If our schools (and families) taught ethics (or at least taught it right), maybe we wouldn’t have so many corruption scandals every year, we wouldn’t have it anywhere in our society.

Maybe.

I wonder if this year we’ll get all courage we have to fight these enemies. Brazil deserves to grow sustainably and for real.

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