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Paulo Renato Souza 2 

1. Summary and Conclusions 

2. Secondary Education in Brazil before 1995 

3. The Management of Secondary Education Reform in Brazil 

4. The Content of the Reform 

4.1 The General Concept of the Reform 

4.2 Reform of the Curriculum 

4.3 Central Points of Secondary Education Curriculum Reform 

5. Resistance to the Reform 

6. Implementation of the Reform 

6.1 The Financing of Secondary Education and the Reform 

6.2 Evaluation as an Instrument in the Application of the Reform 

6.3 The Use of Communication in the Application of the Reform 

6.4 Teacher Training 

6.5 New Technologies in Secondary Education 

7. The Main Results of Applying the Reform 

7.1 The Expansion of the System 

7.2 A New Model of Education 

7.3 Qualification of Teachers and Conditions of Secondary Schools 

7.4 Improved Pupil Performance 


1. Summary and Conclusions 

Brazil's Reform of Intermediate or Secondary Education 3 was actually very 

1 Document prepared in June, 2003 for the Human Development Network. World Bank. 

2 The author was Minister of Education for Brazil, 1995-2002, Rector of the Universidade Estadual de 
Campinas - UNICAMP, Sao Paulo, 1986-1990 and Secretary of Education of the State of Sao Paulo, 1984- 


ambitious in both its planning and implementation. It sought inspiration in what was the 
best and most up-to-date in the experience of different countries at different stages of 
economic and social development. Most importantly, however, its general theme is fully 
attuned to the new challenges that the "Knowledge Society" has provided for education 
systems: creating the conditions for permanent education. On the one hand this requires 
that, in the context of basic 4 education, education systems must be able to develop in young 
people the ability to learn, abandoning for ever ideas based on the transmission of 
knowledge, and that they must keep their doors open for everyone to be able to continue 
studying at various levels. On the other hand, in the context of post- secondary teaching, 
education systems must be diversified and flexible enough to allow people to enter and 
leave school and the labor market at frequent intervals. These two conditions are clearly 
present both in the Reform of Secondary Education per se and in the Reform of Technical 
Education that complemented it. 5 

Ambitions for applying the Reform, were controlled by the historical background to 
Brazilian education. Until the mid-20th century Brazil's secondary education system was 
extremely small by any criterion we wish to analyze, serving an extremely small number of 
young people in the relevant age range. When the Reform was developed, demand for 
secondary education in Brazil underwent an explosive rate of growth and at the 
administrative level of the states of the Brazilian Federation, public education systems had 
to respond to this growth. 

Under these circumstances the great challenge came to be, and still is today, the 
application of the Reform. The process of defining it demanded much work of debate and 
persuasion and a certain amount of corporate resistance had to be faced. The 
implementation used a series of instruments, some quite traditional such as teacher training 
programs, others very innovative such as the development of finance systems associated 
with implementing the Reform, the creation of an instrument for assessing pupils and the 
use of communications and distance education, as well as using the new technologies of 
computing and information. 

The process of applying the Reform is far from over. There are too many severe 
failings in the structure of the physical network of secondary schools for them to be able to 
cope with the demands implicit in the Reform. Teachers must continue to assimilate the 
principles of teaching, especially those contained in the new Curricular Parameters for 
Secondary Education. In addition, there are also many shortfalls to be overcome in relation 
to the qualification of teachers, particularly in the areas of mathematics and sciences. The 
financing of secondary education as a whole still needs to be defined in a permanent form. 
In order to apply the Reform, very large amounts of money were provided in the form of 
special projects and programs with a limited time span. 

It cannot, however, be denied that the application of Secondary Education Reform 
in Brazil has, up to the present time, achieved a success that is perhaps without equal in the 
history of education, bearing in mind especially the country's size and diversity. The 

3 The present text refers to secondary education ("Educacao Secundaria" or "Ensino Medio") in Brazil. In the 
Brazilian education structure, the three-year secondary education follows the compulsory eight grades of 
primary education. In the US system it correspond to the high school level. It is a pre-requisite for entering 
higher education. For young people who have entered primary education at the appropriate age and 
completed the eight years without repeating a year, secondary education will last from age 15 to 17. In the 
present text, "Educacao Secundaria" or "Ensino Medio" are used interchangeably as synonyms. 

The Brazilian definition of "basic education" is adopted. It comprehend the infant education, eight years of 
primary education and three years of secondary education 

In fact these characteristics existed in the group of reforms and educational policies that were implemented 
in Brazil between 1995 and 2002, from early childhood education up to university postgraduate level. 


Brazilian secondary education system is without a doubt today bigger, better and more 
relevant to the lives of the people than it was eight years ago. 

2. Secondary Education in Brazil before 1995 

Throughout the educational history of most countries, the role the secondary level 
has played in educational systems has not been clearly defined. Historically, this particular 
stage of* young people's education has been the scene of a struggle between two objectives 
in opposition to each other: preparation for further studies and preparation for work. To a 
greater or lesser extent, these two 'functions' of secondary education and the way in which 
educational systems were responding to the challenge of including them in the options 
available to young people goes a long way to explaining the educational history of different 
countries. In many cases the solution was found to be the establishment of two separate 
systems in which the young person's choice between university or the world of work was 
made at the age of 15. In a development of this system, some countries created a tertiary 
level of education exclusively aimed at those leaving vocational secondary education and 
separate from the rest of the university system. 

In spite of not having managed to achieve universal primary education until the final 
decade of the 20th century, Brazil did not escape this general rule. Secondary education 
was traditionally considered to be a preparation for higher education and as such reserved 
for those from the economic, political and social elites. In 1942 the government of 
President Vargas issued a decree regulating vocational education that viewed it as 
completely different from secondary education, restricting it almost entirely to those with 
the lowest income levels in society. 

It is interesting, however, that Brazil never completely separated the two systems 
that would prevent the 'transition' of people between one sector and the other. Thus, if a 
person had studied at the 'technical' level in secondary school, the doors of the university 
were still open, subject only to the candidate passing the entrance examination (the 'exame 
vestibular'). This feature turned the Brazilian secondary education system into a hybrid 
containing a system preparing people for further study, and a vocational system. The latter 
was small but made up principally of public technical schools mainly attended by young 
people from the middle class who were interested in preparing for higher education and not 
very keen on specifically vocational subjects. In the end, this characteristic removed all 
trace of their role as schools preparing pupils for the labor market. 

In 1971, Law No. 5692 re-organized the education system, setting out the eight 
compulsory grades of primary education while attempting to turn secondary education into 
a 'second stage' in which vocational education would be obligatory without sacrificing its 
quality of being the level of education immediately preceding higher education and a pre- 
requisite for entering it. In this respect the reform failed. Secondary education did not 
become a vocational system. Many schools were forced to obey the law by creating 
subjects that supposedly prepared pupils for work; generally they lacked the necessary 
laboratories, equipment and teachers to be able to offer vocational training. In time the 
system was gradually modified by interpretations and regulations which, by the 1980s, 
finally created what were in fact two types of secondary education: one vocational and the 
other preparatory to further study, both of them being considered equal for the purposes of 
continuing education. 

The growth of enrolments in secondary education, both vocational and preparatory, 
was very slow until the mid-90s of the 20th century. At the start of the 1950s enrolments 


were around 650 thousands pupils in a total population of more than 50 million people. 
Between 1971 and 1980 enrolments in this sector leapt from a little more than a million 
pupils to almost three million. This growth, however, slowed down considerably in the 
following decade, only passing four million at the start of the 1990s. After 1993 a great 
expansion in the system occurred which passed the mark of eight million pupils in 2000 
and 9 million in 2003 as may be seen in Table 1. Between 1993 and 2003 the total 
enrolment grew by 118%. 

There are many reasons for this peculiar development. On the one hand, until the 
mid-90s there was a lack of demand. This is related to the problems of pupils passing 
through the primary level. Even in 1994 less than 50% of those entering primary school 
managed to finish its eight grades. Those who did finish took on average 12 years to do so. 
In other words, the great majority of young people did not finish primary education or left it 
at an age when it was impossible to think of continuing their studies at secondary level. On 
the other hand there was little economic stimulus to go on to secondary education. Until 
the 1980s the Brazilian economy was extremely closed. Demand for low-level manpower 
was high and the majority of jobs did not require the completion of secondary education as 
a pre-condition for employment. This changed radically in the 1990s with the opening up 
of the Brazilian economy and its entry into the system of global competition. A huge 
process of technological renovation was introduced into all sectors of the economy, and the 
secondary school leaving certificate came to be a requirement for employment in the 
simplest jobs. Given that the growth of employment also decelerated after the start of the 
1980s, secondary level qualifications came to be a documentary requirement for any job. 
In addition to this there is the demographic aspect. The 1990s saw a 'teenage boom' 
without precedent in Brazilian history which will tend to slow down only after 2005 6 

Table 1 

Number of Enrolments and Completions in Normal Secondary Education 








































Source: MEC/INEP 

6 In 1990 there were a million more teenagers than in 1980; in 2000, 2.8 million more than in 1990 and in 
2005 there will be 500,000 more than in 1995. 


These changes are also dramatic in relation to the future of young people who are 
finishing secondary education. In 1980 the number of those entering higher education was 
almost 70% of young people who had finished secondary education in the previous year, as 
can be seen in Graph 1. In 2001 this percentage was less than 50% in spite of the number 
of places in higher education having increased 248% during this period. This change in the 
profile of students and in attitudes to secondary education had already been seen since 1997 
when INEP (the National Institute for Educational Studies and Research) carried out a 
study on 430 thousand young people who had completed secondary school in nine 
Brazilian states. It was found that 53% of them belonged to families with a monthly 
income of up to R$720.00, that is, the equivalent of six minimum wages at that time; that 
50% were the children of parents who had not finished secondary education and that only 
9% of the fathers and 7% of the mothers of these young people had spent longer in school 
than their children had at that time. What is interesting, however, is that only 43% of these 
young people declared their intention of taking their studies to a higher level. The rest said 
they wanted to follow a technical course or go straight to work 7 . 

Graph 1 

Number of Pupils Completing Secondary Education and those Entering Higher 
Education during the Year in Relation to those Completing during the Previous Year 


2,SOO -r 


1,500 -- 


SOO -- 


-r 7(t% 


-- 50% 


1 9SO 

1 994 

1 99 6 






7 MEC/INEP: Avaliacao de Concluintes do Ensino Medio em Nove Estados, 1997 

i^i^H Starting Higher Education* tZZ 

] Finishing Secondary Education' 


* Includes regular courses of four years length and short terms of two years. 

** Conventional Education and Education of Young People and Adults 
Source: Paulo Renato Souza Consultores based on data from MEC/INEP 

3. The Management of the Reform of Secondary Education in Brazil 

During the electoral campaign of 1984, Brazil generated for the first time an 
electoral debate on proposals and ideas for the new government. The presidential 
candidate, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, presented his platform to the country by means of a 
book entitled Mdos a Obra, Brasil (Hands to Work, Brazil). The chapter on education was 
one of the most important and it set out clearly: priority was to be given to primary 
education and the general lines of what the Ministry of Education was subsequently to put 
into practice during the next eight years. It may be claimed that everything that was set out 
in the book was implemented, but that not everything that was done in those eight years 
appeared in that document. 

The ideas set out there concerning secondary education were especially concise and 
all-embracing. Priority was given to the: "increase in the number of secondary schools in 
regions of the country where there is a lack of places. Improvement of the quality of 
teaching (...) and providing chances for vocational education (...). Setting out basic 
curriculum content and learning systems on a national level that include educational aims 
that are socially useful for all children (...). Stimulating the definition of complementary 
curricular items to be adopted by schools, bearing in mind local and regional differences 
and cultural variety". 8 

The topic secondary education became the object of a more systematic attention 
after the new government took office in 1995. Besides the internal debate in the Ministry, 
the National Congress was deliberating on a new Law of Guidelines and Foundations of 
National Education (LDB), which was passed in December, 1996 and established itself as a 
new institutional landmark for the whole of Brazilian education. Within the National 
Congress an intense debate was opened and the Ministry of Education clearly played a 
leadership role in this process, making proposals and initiating many discussions. 

Secondary education took up a significant part of these proceedings. In order to 
discuss specific proposals in relation to this level of education the Ministry, through the 
Secretariat for Secondary Education and Technology (SEMTEC), led the wide-ranging 
process of debate at national level. Throughout the whole of the unfolding of this process 
the Ministry developed and distributed the basic documentation on which discussions were 

For this reason the visits Ministry experts paid to various educational systems that 
stood out by reason of their experience in the secondary area were important, as were the 
visits to countries which were carrying out at the same time reforms similar to those that 
Brazil was proposing. As a result of these contacts it was possible to identify three basic 
groups of ideas of the final stage of secondary education in the world's educational 

8 Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, Mdos a Obra, Brasil, Presidential Election Platform, Brasilia, DF, 1994, pp. 


• The first was setting out two paths, one in the direction of carrying on studies and 
the other in the direction of preparation for work, with no equivalence between 
them, or with equivalence by means of excessively complicated procedures that 
made it practically unviable. The clearest examples were Spain, France, Germany 
and Austria, among others. 

• The second group was trying to bring together all these threads by means of 
offering education that was quite differentiated in itself but with equivalence that 
allowed the continuance of studies. Among these were the examples of Portugal, 
Italy, England and some American states. 

• The third way, which was at that time being sketched out in various ways, proposed 
a general, contextualized education that attempted to combine a strongly scientific 
and technological sector with humanities by means of differing paths that might be 
pre-defined or not. In addition, they tried to establish the complementary nature of 
vocational education either in specialized schools or at the workplace. In this group 
we find the reforms that were being carried out in Israel, Australia and some 
American states such as Oklahoma. 

As the debate was being held in Congress, the Ministry was holding a series of 
meetings with leading figures in Brazilian states, teachers and experts. The first meeting 
between the state authorities, the Ministry of Education's specialist team and teachers 
invited from various Brazilian universities, emphasized the need to work out a proposal 
which would incorporate the previously mentioned precepts and respect the principle of 
flexibility that was the basis of the LDB and which all the states in Brazil could put into 
practice, when allowances were made for regional inequalities. 

Starting from this point the Ministry, together with the Council of State Secretaries 
of Education (CONSED), organized a series of public debates. The first of these was the 
International Seminar on Policies in Secondary Education held in 1996 in a joint initiative 
with the Sao Paulo State Secretariat of Education. The proposal was to study and analyze 
experiments in secondary education carried out in Europe, the USA and some Latin 
American countries. The debate that ensued embraced those working in the world of 
education, secondary school teachers, state secretaries of education, specialist teams from 
the state secretariats of education, and regional groups of head teachers and specialists from 
secondary schools. 

The working methodology was designed to broaden the debates both on the 
academic level and within the context of each state, involving teachers and specialists 
working in secondary education. The debates held in the states were coordinated by 
teacher representatives, and aimed at facilitating a critical analysis of the material and 
developing new questions and/or suggestions for improving the documents. 

Once this first stage was over the papers were submitted for the perusal of state 
secretaries of education in CONSED meetings with the aim of gaining new insights from 
those who would be putting the Reform into practice in their respective states. The debate 
was broadened by the participation of specialist consultants in various meetings at state 
level and by the distribution of basic texts concerning the Reform. 

Along with the reformulation of the theoretical documents, two meetings were held, 
in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro with teachers who were working in the public 
sector, chosen at random in order to check whether the papers that had been produced 
would be understood and received. The project was also discussed in public debates such 
as the one organized by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper at the beginning of 1997, in 


which teaching unions, the association of university and secondary students, representatives 
of private schools and other sectors of society took part. 

The active participation of state secretaries of education in this process was 
extremely important because they are responsible for public secondary schools. Thus there 
was a guarantee of both a profound knowledge of the previously existing situation and also 
of the realism and relevance of the proposal being presented. The conclusions of this 
debate were eventually incorporated into the text of the new Law of Guidelines and 
Foundations. In the words of Ruy Leite Berger Filho, former Secretary of Secondary 
Education at the Ministry of Education: 

"For the first time, a Brazilian Constitution has considered Secondary Education to 
be the right of all citizens: the 1988 Federal Constitution established as a principle the 
'progressive universal provision of free secondary education', in other words: the 
provision of secondary education should be gradually extended to all those who complete 
primary education, even if it is not obligatory in order to study at secondary level. 
Secondary education has now become part of the educational process that the country 
considers essential for the exercise of citizenship, for access to productive activities and 
also for pursuing the most elevated and complex levels of education for personal 
development. In 1996 the Law of Guidelines and Foundations for National Education gave 
it a new meaning by including it as the final stage of Basic Education, after early childhood 
and primary education. In fact it reaffirms the constitutional mandate in terms of its basic 
nature but goes further in its conception and function within the Brazilian education 
system: it is not just one more level of teaching but a part of basic education. The final 
part, secondary education, should be provided universally and gradually made 
obligatory ." 9 

4. The Content of the Reform 

4.1 The General Concept of the Reform 

The Law of Guidelines and Foundations of National Education established the main 
direction of the Reform and the principle lines of the new secondary education. Brazil 
made a clear choice of the third way described above, and sought to harmonize the 
demands of different areas of society, from the productive sector to the academic 
community. Brazil's Reform defines secondary education as having a strong content based 
on the humanities, science and technology, focused on the personal development of its 
citizens. It also aims to offer preparation for further study and to define the skills and 
abilities that have to be achieved at this level of education. Finally, secondary education 
should open the doors to vocational education by developing the general skills needed in 
the workplace. 

By opting for this pattern, Brazil broke with the model set down in 1971 which, as 
mentioned above, sought a solution that would conciliate between the aims of preparing 
young people to go on with their studies, and training for work within a second level of 
vocational training which was increasingly subordinated to the processes of selection for 
higher education. An extremely important point in the Reform was precisely the definition 
of vocational education as being complementary to secondary education and no longer as 
a separate path in teaching. 10 

9 Berger Filho, Ruy Leite, A Reforma do Ensino Medio, unpublished text, Brasilia, 2003. 

10 The nature of basic education at secondary level achieved concrete expression when Articles 35 and 36 of 
the LDB established its aims, set out general guidelines for the organization of its curriculum and defined the 
profile of the school leaver: 


The concept of preparing for work helps to overcome the duality of secondary 
education: that preparation must be basic, in other words, one that can serve as a basis for 
the training of everyone and for all types of work. Being basic, its point of reference are 
the changes in the requirements of the labor market; it is not aimed only at those who are 
already working or who have recently started to work; nor will it be a preparation for 
specific types of employment or for performing particular jobs. 

Vocational education was the subject of a Presidential Decree passed in 1997. "The 
function of vocational education, according to the LDB, is not to take the place of basic 
education nor to compete with it. The value given to the one does not detract from the 
importance of the other. Improving the quality of vocational education presupposes a 
high-quality basic education and is an indispensable condition or success in a world ruled 
by competition, by technological innovation and by the increasing demands for quality, 
productivity and knowledge. 

"Federal Decree No. 2,208/97, which controls the LDB, has established a 
curricular organization for the technical level of vocational education which is independent 
of, but linked to, secondary education, joining technical training together with a solid basic 
education and highlighting the need for a clear definition of curricular guidelines, with a 
view to bringing them into line with the trends in the world of work." 

"Essentially the new legal landmark encouraged the formal separation of technical 
from secondary education, making it complementary and creating a flexible curricular 
structure to allow those who had left the system to return to it. On this basis, young people 
who had obtained secondary school leaving certificates through supplementary courses 

Article 35 - Secondary education, the final stage of basic education, shall last for a minimum of three years 
and have the following aims: 

• the consolidation and strengthening of knowledge acquired during primary education in order to 
permit the continuance of study: 

• basic preparation for work and the citizenship on the part of the learner, for the continuance of 
learning, so that he or she shall be able to adapt flexibly to new working conditions or the 
improvement of previous ones; 

• the improvement of the learner as a human being, including training in ethics and the development 
of intellectual independence and critical thought; 

• understanding the scientific and technological foundations of productive processes, relating theory 
to practice in the teaching of each subject. 

Article 36 - The secondary school curriculum shall observe the provisions of Section I of this Chapter and the 
following guidelines: 

emphasis shall be given to technological education, the understanding of the meaning of science, language, 
literature and the arts; the historical process of changing society and culture; the Portuguese language as an 
instrument of communication, access to knowledge and the exercise of citizenship; 
it shall adopt methods of teaching and assessment that stimulate pupils' initiative; 

a modern foreign language shall be included as a compulsory subject, chosen by the school community , and a 
second, optional language shall be available within the institution. 

First paragraph - The content, methodologies and forms of assessment shall be organized in such a way that 
at the end of secondary education the learner shall demonstrate : 

command of the scientific and technological principles that govern modern production; 
knowledge of the contemporary forms of language; 

command of that knowledge of philosophy and sociology that is necessary to exercise citizenship. 

Second paragraph - Secondary education will serve the general training of the learner by being able to 

prepare him or her to work in technical employment. 

Third paragraph - Secondary school courses will have legal equivalence and will enable learners to continue 
to study. 

Fourth paragraph - Development of general preparation for work and optional vocational training will be 
able to be carried out in secondary education institutions themselves or in co-operation with specialized 
vocational education institutions. 


could obtain secondary level vocational diplomas in technical schools or in the "S" system 
institutions 11 . This, in its turn, achieved a new dimension and a greater degree of 
connection with the whole of the educational system by being able to give its leavers this 
certificate, since the pupil had already obtained his or her secondary level diploma either 
through the conventional school or the supplementary path." 12 

4.2 Reform of the Curriculum 

The Reform of Secondary Education, strictly speaking, was carried out by 
reforming the curriculum. Based on results of the debate mentioned above, the Ministry 
consolidated the proposal that had been submitted for study by the National Education 
Council (CNE). This body arranged new debates with the academic community in two 
public events organized by the CNE, as well as working meetings with representatives of 
regulating and executive organs of the educational systems in the states of Brazil, not to 
mention countless meetings, seminars and debates in which versions of the text under 
discussion were presented and evaluated. The result was Report (Parecer) No. 15 of 1998, 
written by Councilor Guiomar Namo de Mello, a specialist in secondary education with 
immense experience of working in the Brazilian public sector and in international 

"As the final stage of basic education, secondary education should be terminal in 
nature; as a level of education that should be guaranteed to all citizens in order to 
consolidate and increase the knowledge acquired in primary education, it should enable 
pupils to continue their studies, guarantee basic preparation for work and citizenship, 
provide pupils with those instruments that will enable them to carry on learning all through 
their lives and improve the learner as a person. In order to achieve its ends it must develop 
an understanding of the scientific and technological bases of modern processes of 
production, mastery of languages and the codes of understanding of the society in which 
pupils live and of the culture to which they have signed up and which they 'sign'. Thus, 
secondary education should be the last stage of an education that is general, in tune with 
modern life and the construction of basic skills that identify the learner as a person who 
can produce knowledge and participate in the world of work, and in tune also with the 
development of the individual as an 'actor in society' - a citizen." 13 

The idea behind Brazil's Secondary Education Reform is a particular one and taken 
as a whole is quite different from what is happening in other countries in the world. It 
contains, however, important contributions from the latest reforms in some of these 
countries that can be identified in various aspects of the Brazilian Reform: 

• USA and Australia: the adoption of a single stream with the possibility of wide 
differences between regions and schools, including the organization of teaching 
areas and time allocated within the curriculum and even the organization of subjects 
and teaching loads; 

• some experiments in England, Portugal, Scotland and some states of the USA: 
contextualization of the curriculum and the possibility of organizing the school 
curriculum with projects, problem- solving and case studies instead of subjects; 

• Israel and Holland: a single path with a strong relationship between training in 
humanities and technology; 

11 The "S" system is a network of technical schools sponsored by the entrepreneurial association using 
compulsory contributions recollected by the government and transferred to them 

12 See: Ministerio da Educacao, A Reforma da Educacao Profissional, Serie Polfticas e Resultados 1995-2002, 
Brasilia, DF, 2002, p. 6 e 7. See also, Conselho Nacional de Educacao, Diretrizes Curriculares Nacionais 
para a Educacao Profissional de Nivel Tecnico, Parecer 16/99, Brasilia, 1999. 

13 Berger Filho, Ruy Leite, op. cit. 


• Spain: open specification of the curriculum with a description of the skills required 
as a result without any prior definition of compulsory curriculum content. 

4.3 Central Points of Secondary Education Curriculum Reform 

a) General Principles 

The aesthetics of sensibility, the policy of equality and the ethics of identity are the 
basis of the new concept of secondary education. Creativity, the spirit of invention, 
curiosity about the new and the affective domain need to be incorporated into identities that 
are able to deal with disquiet, live with the uncertain and the unforeseeable, welcome and 
live with diversity, value quality, delicacy and subtlety. The bases of an aesthetic of 
sensibility are cultural pluralism and a concept of quality based on permanent 
improvement. The policy of equal access to social and cultural benefits, the recognition 
and exercise of human rights and the duties and rights of citizenship, respect for the 
common good, interaction and responsibility within public and private environments, 
should inform all educational policies and curriculum proposals, exercising autonomy all 
the while. The principles of an ethic of identity that lies behind the whole process of 
teaching and learning should be recognition, respect and acceptance of the identity of the 
other, solidarity, responsibility and reciprocity as guiding principles in human activity. 

b) Consolidating the Ability to Learn 

From the legal point of view secondary education no longer contains two functions 
that are hard to reconcile: preparation for continuing studies and training for the exercise of 
a profession. The double nature of the demand will continue to exist because the age at 
which pupils finish primary education coincides with making life choices that are strongly 
determined by the family's economic situation and, to a lesser degree, by personal 
characteristics. Among those who can afford to stay longer in education, this system may 
involve an educational career that postpones the challenge of material survival until after 
finishing higher education. Among those who have to struggle for survival at an earlier age 
it will require entering the labor market soon after finishing compulsory education, during 
secondary education or immediately after it. 

Work and citizenship are seen as the main contexts in which the ability to carry on 
learning should be applied so that the learner may be able to adapt to changing conditions 
in society, specifically in the world of work. In this sense the LDB is clear: instead of 
setting down specific subjects or content, general abilities are emphasized, among them a 
capacity for intellectual autonomy and critical thought. In other words, it calls for the 
creation of an autonomous identity. 

In this interpretation the basic training to be sought in secondary education comes to 
be achieved more by constructing skills, abilities and behavior than by the amount of 
information. Learning to learn and think, to relate knowledge to facts gleaned from daily 
life, giving meaning to what has been learned and capturing the meaning of the world, 
making the link between theory and practice, finding a foundation for criticism, arguing 
from a basis of facts, and dealing with the feelings that learning arouses. 

c) Interdisciplinarity and Contextualization 

See: Conselho Nacional de Educacao, Diretrizes Curriculares Nacionais para o Ensino Medio, Parecer 
15/98, Brasilia, DF, 1998. 


Interdisciplinarity should go beyond the mere juxtaposition of subjects and at the 
same time should not allow them to become diluted into generalities. Indeed, it will be 
mainly in providing the chance to relate disciplines in activities or study projects, research 
and action, that interdisciplinarity will be able to become a pedagogic practice capable of 
achieving the aims of secondary education. 

The contextualized treatment of knowledge is the resource that the school possesses 
in order to draw the pupil away from being a passive spectator. If it is properly designed it 
enables teaching content, by means of the pedagogic process, to bring about significant 
learning processes that mobilize pupils and establish a two-way relationship between them 
and the topic being studied. Contextualizing educational content does not entail freeing it 
from the abstract level of the teaching process in order to imprison it in the spontaneous and 

The recommended contextualization as an organizing principle in the curriculum, 
was aimed to facilitate the application of school experience to an understanding of personal 
experience on more systematic and abstract levels and to use personal experience to 
facilitate the process of assimilating the abstract knowledge the school works with. This 
means that the bridge between theory and practice should be a two-way one. In both 
directions the schools are dealing with basic cognitive skills: abstract reasoning and the 
ability to understand new situations, which is the basis of problem- solving. 

d) A Partly National, Partly Differentiated Basis 

The Law of Guidelines and Foundations had already laid down that primary and 
secondary school curricula should have a national basis and be complemented in each 
school and education system by a differentiated component determined by the 
characteristics of regional and local societies, by culture, economic factors and the 
clientele. The Council Report established that a minimum of 75% of the secondary school 
timetable should be dedicated to the common national basis, with 25% left to be defined by 
the education authorities or, in the last instance, by the schools themselves. 

e) Preparation for Work 

The LDB assumes that there is a difference between "general preparation for work" 
and "vocational training". As a matter of principle, the law does not separate general 
training for work from the learner's general education, and this applies both to the 
"common national basis" and the "differentiated component" of the curriculum. This 
general preparation for work therefore, embraces the general content and skills needed to 
enter the world of work and those that are relevant or indispensable for entering a course of 
vocational training and practicing a technical career. In the first case, content would 
include general notions concerning the role and value of work, the end-products of work 
and conditions of production, among others. 

These courses of study may be used in order to obtain vocational qualifications in 
complementary courses developed concurrently with or subsequent to secondary education. 
Thus, secondary education subjects that are vocational in character may constitute up to a 
maximum of 25% of the vocational qualification curriculum. This limit applies to subjects 
in basic or general education which, at the same time, are fundamental to vocational 
training and for this reason may be included in specific courses aimed at gaining particular 

f) Curriculum Structure 


Following the Resolution that establishes the guidelines for the new secondary 
education, the common national basis for the proposed curriculum should be organized in 
three areas of knowledge. The first is that of Languages, Codes and their Technologies; the 
second is that of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and their Technologies; the third, Human 
Sciences and their Technologies. Each of these areas of knowledge should lead the pupil to 
a certain type of skill. 

When studying Languages, Codes and their Technologies the pupil should be able 
to understand and use symbolic systems in the different languages, encounter different 
opinions and points of view, and analyze and interpret texts. This area includes different 
forms of expression, first among them is the Portuguese language. Foreign languages are 
also included - at least one is compulsory - the arts, physical activities, computing and 
another language of choice, whether it is visual, auditory or of any other kind. 

The area of Natural Sciences and Mathematics includes knowledge related to 
Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. These are not subjects labeled with these 
names, but skills related to gathering knowledge from those areas of knowledge. In this 
way the pupil should be led to understand sciences as human constructs, understand the 
relationship between the development of natural sciences and technological development 
and associate the different technologies to problems with a view to solving the latter. 

In the area of Human Sciences, emphasis is placed on skills related to knowledge of 
society and culture, history, geography, sociology, psychology, philosophy and 
anthropology. In this area the pupil should understand society, its development and 
changes, as well as individually absorbing knowledge concerning the individual, society, 
the economy and social and cultural practices. 

5. Resistance to the Reform 

The Reform of the Secondary Education Curriculum in itself did not meet strong 
resistance to its implementation. The way in which the Reform was defined and its 
approval both in the National Congress and in the National Education Council involved, as 
we have seen, wide participation on the part of those involved, from state secretaries of 
education to the unions, as well as teachers, academics and specialists in the area. 

Resistance to the Reform centered particularly on the aspect of separating 
vocational education from secondary. In the federal vocational schools the reaction was at 
first very negative, one of the reasons being that the principals of those schools felt that 
they had not been sufficiently consulted. The Reform was seen as being a separation of 
theory from practice, of the applied from the conceptual. Isolating the technical aspect 
could lead to a diminution of its pedagogical content by depriving those who will use their 
hands of the ability to use their heads. This resistance actually concealed the fear of 
technical schools teachers who taught subjects preparatory to further study, that the Reform 
would eliminate their role. 

The Ministry's reply was to allow the federal technical schools to maintain two 
parallel courses of study: normal secondary education and technical education. Thus the 
argument against the Reform was weakened. The proposal to separate the two courses 
provided two alternatives. Either the technical curriculum ran alongside the last year of 
secondary education or it came after graduation from secondary school. If it was 
concurrent it would involve merely re-arranging of the two curricula whose content remains 


closely related to what it was, simply changing the administrative requirements of what 
came to be seen as two enrolments and two diplomas running in parallel. If the vocational 
course came after the secondary, this would happen when pupils had already received all 
their academic training at secondary level within the number of teaching hours laid down 
by law. In addition, the Reform went on to open up the possibility of obtaining a technical 
diploma for young people in all secondary schools, and not only for those lucky enough to 
have had the chance to pass the highly competitive entrance examinations to the very small 
number of technical schools that existed in Brazil up until that time. 

Last, but not least, the Reform opened the doors to vocational qualification in 
technical subjects to the huge contingent of young people and adults who had obtained their 
secondary school diploma by means of supplementary courses and examinations aimed 
specifically at this clientele. The expansion of adult education in Brazil in recent years has 
taken on gigantic proportions, as will be seen in Table 2. This enormous contingent of 
people looking for more education has specific aspirations towards progress in society and 
in work and the reform of vocational education was precisely an attempt to satisfy these 
wishes by means of secondary level technical courses high-level technologists. 

Table 2 

Number of Enrolments and Completions in Adult Education at Secondary Level 


























Source: MEC/INEP 

6. Implementation of the Reform 

The implementation of the Reform was carried out by means of a series of 
instruments, some quite traditional such as teacher training programs, others more 
innovative such as the development of finance systems associated with implementing the 
Reform, the creation of an instrument for assessing pupils and the use of communications 
and distance education, as well as using the new technologies of computing and 

6.1 The Financing of Secondary Education and the Reform 

The Brazilian Constitution states that 25% of all income of the states and 
municipalities must be spent on education. Responsibility for primary education is also 
divided between these two levels of government, with early childhood education being the 


responsibility of the municipalities and secondary education administered by the states, 
with responsibility for primary education being shared between these two elements of the 
Brazilian Federation. The 1966 Constitutional Reform (Amendment No. 13) made a 
significant advance in defining the responsibilities of each of these two levels of 
government in relation to primary education, giving it 15% of revenue and establishing the 
distribution of these funds according to the number of pupils in the respective education 
systems. Thus the Fund for Primary Education Development and for Enhancing the Value 
of the Teaching Profession (FUNDEF) was created. The Amendment also helped indirectly 
to improve the distribution of public funding for early childhood education since the Law 
of Guidelines and Foundations of National Education restricted the remaining 10% of 
money in the municipalities, exclusively for the use of this level of teaching, which gave it 
a significantly larger share of the resources available. 

The financing of secondary education remains nevertheless in need of a permanent 
mechanism to ensure that it receives sufficient resources to attend to requirements with a 
high quality of service. At state level the remaining 10% of educational funding is not 
dedicated solely to secondary education and in many cases has to be shared with the high 
costs of higher education. In accordance with the Constitution and the Law, Federal 
Government's contribution to financing basic education is concentrated mainly on primary 
education and to a lesser extent on early childhood education, so that the secondary level 
receives only a part of what is left over from educational resources belonging to the states. 
Meanwhile, many states operate extensive higher education systems that compete with the 
secondary level for a share of this section of funding. This is an even greater problem for 
the relatively less developed states which are seeing the highest rates of expansion in 
secondary school enrolments. In spite of these problems, it was actually the public sector, 
through the states, that satisfied the huge demand for secondary education, as can been seen 
in Graph 2, which shows the increasing participation of the public sector in the overall 
provision of secondary education. 

The Reform of Secondary Education provided an excellent opportunity for the 
Federal Government to take on the task of channeling resources to this level of education in 
a manner that was quite directed and focused on two basic aims: helping the states to 
implement the Reform and favoring the poorest states. Three instruments were used, two 
of them with international help from the International Development Bank - BID. 

The general aspect of the Reform, that is, the separation of secondary from 
vocational education and the expansion of technical education, was the subject of a project 
approved and financed by BID: the Vocational Expansion Training Program (PROEP), 
involving a total of US$500 million. The program was aimed at modernizing and 
expanding the system by means of transferring resources to schools in the federal and state 
areas and initiated the creation of a new area: community schools. Transfer of the 
Program's resources is conditional on following the principles of the Reform in facilitating 
the adaptation of existing schools, but the greater part of the investment has been aimed at 
expanding the system within the new pattern. 

The implementation of the Reform of Secondary Education in Brazil forms part of a 
wide program of investments also financed by the BID with the same amount of money as 
before, aimed at improving the expansion of educational provision in order to ensure the 
quality of teaching to the growing numbers of young people who are looking for secondary 
schooling. The aim of the program, called the "Young School Project" is to create a school 
specifically for young people and adults, separate from schools for younger children and 
properly equipped to take into account the needs of young people as learners. 


Graph 2 

Public Sector Share of Secondary Education (by number of enrolments) 


' r 8% 






!I7% !!7% 


n — i i i i i i i — i 

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 

Source: Basic data from MEC/INEP 

The project is based on two sub-programs: a national sub-program to be executed 
by the Ministry of Education and the sub-program of the Constituents of the Federation, to 
be executed by each of the 27 states which conform to certain pre-conditions, that is, the 
adoption of a plan for reconstruction and rationalization in their school networks, actions 
for controlling the rate of flow through primary schools, the institution of a specific 
management organ for secondary education within each secretariat of education and the 
availability of financing the state's own contribution to complement central funding. 
Resources for the states are transferred on a non-return basis leaving the Government with 
the onus of external funding. The national sub-program is divided into four large 
components: policy-making, execution of policies, monitoring and evaluation, and social 
communication. Putting it into practice will allow actions of a universal nature aimed at 
making up for inequalities between the various states to be put into practice, since some 
states will face greater obstacles in carrying out the Reform and in setting up an investment 
project by reason of their financial difficulties. 

The third initiative taken between 2000 and 2002 took the form of a voluntary 
transfer of resources from central government to the 14 states with the lowest rates of 
human development in the country. In three years, a billion reais were transferred, the 
equivalent of more than US$500 million, distributed among the states in proportion to net 
transfers to their municipalities to be spent on primary education according to the terms of 
Constitutional Amendment No. 13. These resources have to be applied exclusively to 
projects for expanding and improving the quality of secondary teaching in accordance with 
the guidelines of the Reform and could be used as a counter part funds by the states for 
projects supported by the Young School Project financed by BID. 

6.2 Evaluation as an Instrument in the Application of the Reform 

The National Secondary Education Test (ENEM) was created in 1998 and is 


directly related to the changes proposed for reforming secondary education. 15 Its aim is not 
to identify weaknesses but to stimulate the development of citizens who are can think for 
themselves and act dynamically to solve the problems of modern life. In this sense the 
ENEM is a powerful instrument for change and is helping states to implement reform of the 
secondary school curriculum. The ENEM is a form of evaluation that focuses on the skills 
and abilities that it is hoped the pupil will display at the end of basic schooling. The ENEM 
is interdisciplinary and endeavors to evaluate the overall performance of all those who take 
it, indicating pointers for continuing studies, for individual improvement or even for entry 
into the labor market. 

The test consists of an essay on a current topic and objective questions that assess 
the skills and abilities pupils have developed in school - that is, their ability to reason and 
solve problems instead of memorizing the content of each subject area. 16 By emphasizing 
the development of competences and skills that permit the young person to establish 
relationships and turn information into knowledge, the ENEM shows schools that they have 
a new function: going beyond the traditional concept of being simply transmitters of 
information in favor of becoming social institutions that shape abilities and cognitive 
structures. In this new function the pupil must no longer be a passive spectator. With the 
teacher's help he or she must manipulate information, contextualize it and interact with it in 
a critical and independent way. 

This new type of school demands more from those working in it. It is a great 
challenge for teachers and head teachers, who have to change the concepts on which they 
base their day-to-day activities. This is the greatest pedagogical effect of the ENEM: by 
assessing pupils in this way it is showing the whole of society what should be taught. It is a 
specific instrument that allows the teacher to see what to do in order to work with 
interdisciplinarity and Contextualization, the twin pillars on which the Secondary 
Education Reform is based. In addition, the ENEM is being gradually adopted as a 
complement or an alternative to university entrance examinations. About 300 higher 
education institutions are currently using ENEM results in their selection procedures. 

Included also in the ENEM is a wide-ranging socio-economic questionnaire that 
provides information on the family situations, school career, working life, habits, beliefs 
and expectations of those taking the test. This information gives a better idea of the profile 
of those completing secondary education, helping to develop and improve Brazil's 

In Brazil there are basically two national assessment systems for secondary education: the National System 
for Evaluation of Basic Education (SAEB) and the National Secondary Education Test (ENEM). The SAEB, 
carried out every two years: 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001, is a large-scale, sample-based assessment that 
assesses the performance of pupils from 4th to 8th grades in primary school and the 3rd grade of secondary 
school (1 1th grade). The results provide an overall view of the quality of basic education in Brazil and can be 
separated according to state and administrative authority (municipal, state, federal or private). In addition, the 
SAEB allows the main factors associated with school performance to be identified by means of questionnaires 
given to pupils, teachers and head teachers. 

6 The ENEM's Framework of Competences is the basis on which the learner is assessed in the test. It 
assumes that the content of different areas of knowledge in the curriculum proposals of Brazilian schools is 
the result of collaboration, is complementary and integrated. Five competences have been defined as being 
fundamental for every citizen and summarize the skills that guide the construction of the test: (1) mastering 
the standard pattern of the Portuguese language and making use of the languages of mathematics, the arts and 
science; (2) constructing and applying concepts from the various areas of knowledge to an understanding of 
natural phenomena, historical and geographical processes, technological production and artistic expression; 
(3) selecting, organising, relating and interpreting data and information represented in different ways in order 
to make decisions and meet different problem situations; (4) relating information represented in different 
ways, and knowledge available in specific situations, in order to construct consistent arguments; (5) using 
knowledge developed in school formulate proposals for common action in society, respecting human values 
and socio-cultural differences. 


educational policies. As well as this, it permits a permanent and up-dated survey of the 
opinions and complaints of young Brazilians, a fundamental basis for an educational 
project that hopes to achieve higher levels of citizenship and a virtuous circle in the work of 
schools and teachers with their pupils. 

Participation in the ENEM is voluntary. Equally, use of the results in higher 
education selection process is not compulsory. Each institution is left to decide how to use 
the ENEM results. Given its voluntary nature, the ENEM has been extremely well 
accepted in Brazil. The first application of the test took place in 1998. In that year 125,000 
pupils took it. Since then the numbers of ENEM candidates has grown greatly. In 2001 the 
Ministry of Education decreed that enrolment should be free for needy pupils and for all 
those completing their education in public secondary schools, a decision that benefited 82% 
of those taking part. This was the final step that was needed to encourage large-scale 
voluntary participation in the test. After 2002 the numbers of candidates passed 1.3 
million, about two thirds of those estimated to be completing secondary education in that 


Table 3 

The Development of the National Secondary Education Test - ENEM 

( by thousands of pupils) 

N° of IES 

ENEM (1) 

N° of 


hosting the 

N° of pupils enrolled 
taking the examination 
























Accumulated Total of 



NOTES: (1) IES = Institutes de Ensino Superior - Higher 
Education Institutions that are already using the results of the 
examination as criteria for selection for undergraduate courses. 

6.3 The Use of Communication in the Implementation of the Reform 

An important element in the whole process of defining and implementing the 
Reform of Secondary Education was the involvement of the media. Interviews in 
newspapers, on radio and television, permanent information about meetings, debates and 
negotiations, participation of Ministry experts and authorities in seminars and events, 
including those organized by the major press organizations and the unions, took place 
constantly from 1995 to 1997, contributing to the initial construction of secondary 
education reform. 

In the following years, official campaigns were launched by means of television, 
radio and the press as part of a strategy of publicizing the ideas central to the Reform. The 
first of these coincided with the launch and distribution to all teachers of the National 
Curriculum Parameters for Secondary Education. Two working areas were defined: the 
first was aimed at society as a whole, the second at those in schools, especially teachers, but 
also pupils. A new brand was created to symbolize the post-Reform school - the "Escola 
Jovem" ("Young School"). The aim was to increase the impact of the idea of a new view 
of secondary education and prepare for a cultural change in school and in the public 
imagination. It was also necessary to point out that this was not a school where the children 
of the elite were preparing for entry to university, but that the school was an important 
instrument for the life of the citizen, and to this end the slogan "education now is for the 
rest of your life" was created. 17 

Three television films and two radio 'spots', were produced with the aim of explaining proposals to the 
public. Using the language of young people, the films used three characters representing clearly school-based 
ideas: Enzyme, Oxygen and Percentage, which entered people's lives sharply linking school content to life. 
The same was done on the radio, using other ideas in musical form whose rhythms clearly identified with 
young people from different social classes. While the campaign was being broadcast there was an increase in 


For those in schools, as the Curriculum Parameters were arriving there, the Ministry 
took over part of the program "A Jump into the Future" that was aimed at teachers. It is 
produced by "TV Escola" ("School TV") 18 and broadcast by it and also by TVE (TV 
Educativa - Educational TV) a public channel, and re -broadcast for several months at 
different times by all television channels. A series of a week of daily broadcasts initiated 
the inclusion of the topic of secondary education in this program . 

At the same time, TV Escola created a slot for secondary education at a particular 
time. As well a support program for teachers on the subject of curriculum reform, a series 
of 20 programs about all aspects of the Reform was produced. In 2001, with the reform 
process already quite advanced, a second series of activities in the area of communication 
was launched focusing on head teachers, teachers and pupils. A 'marketing' initiative was 
used in programs with the highest audiences among young people and the public at large, 
whose theme was the participation of everyone in building a new type of school. The 
presenters, each in their own language, stated that Federal and state governments were 
investing in schools but that if teachers, pupils and their families did not involve themselves 
in school life, change would not come about. At the same time, printed materials were sent 
to heads and teachers in schools, along with a wall newspaper for pupils. At the same time, 
support programs for teachers and school managers continued to be developed on TV 

"The great difficulty for social communication is finding the proper language. 
Translating educational policies and concepts into the language of publicity and the press 
is not easy either for advertising agents and journalists, nor for educators. In addition, 
newspapers do not have the same agenda as those who formulate policies and educational 
concepts. Time scales are not the same, either. Themes such as assessment and its results, 
curriculum changes, the time and strategies for implementing policies and their results, in 
education, are not really understood by those who are not 'on the inside' . It is the same 
with those working in advertising. Convincing people of the need for behavioral changes 
in different sectors of the public is by no means the same as selling soap powder or even 
creating an image for a politician."^ 

Communication was also widely used in implementing the ENEM, which forms an 
important component in the Reform of Secondary Education. From its conception until its 
first general results, it was widely publicized and debated in various areas of Brazilian 
society, involving state secretariats of education, public and private higher education 
institutions and organizations representing industry. The tests, the basic documents and the 
pedagogic reports were always published on the Internet. The publicity strategy used radio, 
television and mass-circulation magazines. In addition, several gatherings specialist 
meetings were held all over the country to discuss the model for the test and its underlying 
pedagogic concepts. The Ministry of Education held periodic press conferences to present 
the test results to the media. 

Special attention was given to secondary schools, which received an "ENEM kit" 
containing posters, magazines and explanatory booklets. The aim of this kit was not only 

the participation of senior Ministry staff on radio and television programmes and in the press, talking 
specifically about the subject of the Reform. 

TV Escola is a satellite television system created in 1996 to carry programmes aimed at public sector 
school teachers. More than 70,000 public schools all over Brazil have access to the system, which was 
originally intended for primary school teachers. 

"Berger Filho, Ruy Leite, O uso da midia e das tecnologias da comunicacao e da informacao na 
implementacao da reforma do Ensino Medio, unpublished text. Brasilia, 2002 


to stimulate schools to encourage their pupils to enroll for the test but mainly to provide 
teachers and head teachers with information about the test and the reform of secondary 

6.4 Teacher Training 

Success in building a new secondary education that would meet the needs of 
teenagers and young adults depended without a doubt on the provision of varied and 
innovative opportunities for further training for those working in education. This 
requirement, however, was not new. Traditionally investment in this area had centered 
mainly on holding training sessions in which the teachers had contact with educational 
theories, new teaching methods and up-dated information about their subjects. It was 
believed that change and innovation in teaching practices could come about simply by 
taking teachers to hear about these changes. 

Educational reform in Brazil required a search for new in-service training strategies 
that were more in line with the principles and bases of the Reform itself. This meant the 
adoption on the part of the organizations responsible for managing educational systems, of 
a wider set of strategies and actions, gathered under the guidelines of a real policy of 
professional development on the part of teachers, managers and others working in 
education. The intention of this policy is to guarantee to these individuals a broad range of 
resources and strategies for their training and the widening of their professional and cultural 
life experience. 

This policy was based on two principles of Brazilian education that were clearly set 
out in the LDB: the principles of autonomy and independence. The success of the whole 
process of improving education is based on building and affirming teachers' professional 
identities, contained within a specific awareness of what it means to be an educator in our 
society. For this reason it is important that these professional people should have a 
profound knowledge of the law, the norms and political and ethical principles that have a 
bearing upon their activities. 

It is not only events such as conferences and lectures that give teachers an 
acquaintance with the principles that should rule their work in school. It is more important 
that they have practical experience of the application of these principles, that they should be 
given the time needed for those principles to come to maturity and that they should be 
asked to observe, investigate, analyze and evaluate their own practices in order to choose 
the best options, taking into account pupils' learning. The training of the teacher is more 
effective when it is based in the reality the teachers meet every day in the schools where 
they work. 

These were the precepts on which the Ministry of Education used as a basis for the 
production of a set of materials and the co-ordination of support activities for teachers in all 
Brazil's secondary schools. These activities and materials were aimed at meeting the 
specific needs of the different stages of implementing change in schools: 

• General diffusion of principles, concepts and policies; 

• Initial application of principles and concepts; 

• Continued training in curriculum development; 

• Training for specific requirements; 

• Cultural awareness. 

From the start, the discussions, reflections and decisions regarding Brazil's new 


secondary education were open to the participation of interested parties. For this purpose, 
various events were held, with participants either present or linked at a distance, that 
provided for schools informative materials on the topic. Meetings with specialist teams 
from the Ministry of Education, national, regional and state-level seminars, videos, 
teleconferences and television programs broadcast by TV Escola ("Salto para o Futuro"and 
"Ensino Legal") ["Jump into the Future" and "Cool School"] formed part of a broad pattern 
of such events. 

Among all these activities what stands out is the bi-monthly distribution of the 
Boletim do Ensino Medio (Secondary Education Bulletin), with texts to study and the 
sharing of school experiences, and the production and broadcasting of television programs. 
By means of various partnerships the Ministry of Education produced approximately 100 
hours of video aimed at spreading the news about the new secondary education, in an 
attempt to reach the specialist teams in the state secretariats of education, heads and 
teachers in at secondary level and even parents and children. All this material constitutes a 
useful tool for activities of raising awareness, mobilization and study on the part of the 
various agents involved in implementing the Reform. 

Once the initial stage of raising awareness, mobilization and general publicity of the 
Reform had been achieved, it was necessary to carry on developing more systematic work. 
Three major activities were carried out in this new stage: 

• Distribution of copies of the National Curriculum Parameters for Secondary 
Education to all secretariats of education and secondary schools; 

• Provision of a 40-hour classroom-based course on curriculum development, for 
seven specialists in each of the secretariats of education; 

• Provision of a 40-hour classroom-based course for the training of multipliers for the 
application of Parameters in Action - Secondary Education, in the areas of 
languages, codes and their technologies and human sciences and their technologies. 

Another important strategy encouraged by the Ministry was the construction of 
school support networks, which had a decisive impact on the self-esteem and the value felt 
by those working in school, as well as contributing to the development of their feelings of 
solidarity. The Ministry organized meetings where innovative and successful experiments 
were presented, with the aim of encouraging secretariats of education to set up these 
networks. The main aim of the support networks was to create the conditions in which 
professionals could give each other mutual help by their exchanging experiences in 
implementing the National Curriculum Guidelines for Secondary Education. This network 
of help and exchanging experience was intended to overcome the challenges presented by 
the new idea of the secondary curriculum, whose implementation is not easy but necessary. 

The development of these activities to spread the news of the Reform, initial 
application and continued training, revealed specific needs arising from failings that the 
resources used in these strategies had not been able to overcome. In these cases, the 
Ministry went on to offer courses and workshops, either classroom-based or at a distance, 
to up-date teachers in the content of the subjects they taught, both in methodology, teaching 
resources and content. These demands were met according to requests passed on by the 
school head to the relevant secretariat of education. 

Table 4 shows that in three years more than 40 thousand secondary teachers took 
part in activities related to implementing the Reform. 

Table 4 


Numbers of Teachers Participating in Activities Linked to the Implementation of the 
Reform of Secondary Education (1999/2001) 





Courses, Events 





TV School, classroom activities 





TV School, distance education 










6.5 New Technologies in Secondary Education 

The National Information Technology Program in Education (PROINFO), created 
in 1997, was developed by the Secretariat for Distance Education in partnership with the 
state governments and some municipalities. It sought to bring telematics into public 
education as a means of enriching the teaching/learning process. This involved having 
teachers trained to work with computer resources, knowing the educational principles 
underlying the various uses of the computer, recognizing the affective, social and cognitive 
factors implicit in learning processes and identifying the learner's level of development in 
order to making a suitable contribution to the learning process. 

In spite of their not being limited to secondary education, participating schools in 
general were primary and secondary schools and teachers and pupils at this level were the 
main beneficiaries. While respecting the autonomy of the systems and the diversity of 
Brazil, PROINFO's guidelines were laid down as a result of a process of negotiation 
between the Ministry of Education, the National Council of State Secretaries of Education 
(CONSED) and the State Commissions on Information Technology in Education, made up 
of representatives of state and municipal areas of education, the universities and the school 
community - parents, teachers coordinators and head teachers. 

To ensure the decentralization of the operation a support structure for the PROINFO 
network was set up, based on three elements: 

1. The Center for Experimentation in Education Technology (CETE), this important 
element in the strategy for consolidating PROINFO was planned to support the 
process of incorporating educational technology into schools and to be a center for 
spreading discussion by means of a network, about experiences and knowledge 
concerning new technologies that are applicable to education. Located in the 
Ministry of Education in Brasilia, CETE is also a point of contact between Brazil 
and international initiatives linked to educational technology and distance 

2. Educational Technology Nuclei (NTE). An Educational Technology Nucleus is a 
decentralized PROINFO structure specializing in: (a) ongoing training for teachers 
and support technicians; (b) pedagogic and technical support for schools, including 
raising awareness of technological issues, support for the development of projects 
using telematics for teaching purposes and support for teachers and technicians; (c) 
monitoring, evaluation and research. The process of training professionals is a 
continuous process within the NTEs. By 2002, in all the states of Brazil, 261 nuclei 
had been set up, as can be seen in Table 5. 

3. E-PROINFO, a virtual learning environment developed by PROINFO to be used in 


distance training activities for managers, multiplier teachers, school teachers, 
support technicians, pupil-technicians and employees of secretariats of education. 

Selection of schools participating in PROINFO was not random. The Program's 
national guidelines stated that computers and their respective peripherals would only be 
given out to schools that presented a project for the educational application of telematics 
that was approved by the respective state commissions and that also had teachers willing to 
be trained to implement the project, as well as having a suitable and safe environment in 
which to install the equipment. Almost 5,000 schools were admitted to the Program and 
more than 53,000 computers installed. State and municipal systems were responsible for 
selecting and buying educational software and also for Internet connections. As these 
schools were usually the larger ones in their respective areas, we may assume that about 
seven million primary and secondary pupils were studying in them. 


Table 5 

Aggregated Numbers for PROINFO, by Region 






Training of Human Resources (HR) 

Multiplier Mana- 






Total HR 







4, /Z4 

A Q 

A O 1 O 

1NU1 LllCtlSL 


1 019 


O 1 

1 5 3?7 


































Brazil (course completed) 










Brazil (course to be 

completed by December, 










Brazil (totals) 










1 Data from September, 2002 

The Ministry considered the training personnel to be the main pre -requisite for 
success. Those involved in the scheme - all volunteers - were trained at two levels: 
multiplier teachers and school teachers. A multiplier teacher was chosen from among 
public school teachers with university degrees and received training on postgraduate 
courses (part-time specialization courses) run by public or private Brazilian universities 
chosen by reason of their high quality in the area of using technology in education. Almost 
125,000 people, including teachers and technicians, were involved in the staff training 
program . 

The school teachers were nominated by their head teachers in accordance with the 
rules laid down in the state projects for the selection and training of educators. Those 
responsible for in-service teacher training were the multipliers. The principle that was 
adopted, therefore, was that of teachers training teachers. 

7. The Main Results of Applying the Reform 

7.1 The Expansion of the System 

The result of implementing the Reform of Secondary Education in Brazil between 
1995 and 2002 that had the greatest social impact was without doubt the huge expansion of 
the system, which has already been referred to. The state systems were able to respond to a 
demand that expanded at a tremendous rate during this period. More importantly, growth 
in matriculations was greatest in the states with the lowest development indices and where 
secondary education coverage was least. The measures that were adopted in the area of 
secondary educational finance mentioned above, definitely help to explain this 


Table 6 

Number of Establishments Offering Secondary Education 

Brazil and 



% growth 

























Source: INEP 

To a large extent this expansion did not occur by expanding the network of 
secondary schools itself, but by using primary schools at night. This conclusion is 
suggested by the data in Table 6, where we can see that in only five years more than 4,000 
schools came to offer secondary education, with the highest growth in the North and 
Northeast regions, the poorest in the country. It could hardly be otherwise, given the short 
space of time in which this expansion happened. Some states, meanwhile, began during 
this period to re-organize their school systems by separating schools teaching 1st to 4th 
grades of primary school and joining 5th to 8th-grade schools onto secondary 
establishments. This measure helped to reduce the problems caused by having two levels 
of teaching in the same physical environment. There is no doubt, however, that this is a 
feature that should be corrected in the longer term of implementing the Reform. Brazilian 
secondary education has today a clear identity that needs an appropriate physical 
environment for it to be fully manifested. 

7.2 A New Model of Vocational Education 

The implementation of the overall Reform of Secondary Education in Brazil, 
including the reform of vocational education, has brought about a profound change in the 
profile and nature of technical schools . It is clear that they no longer simply prepare pupils 
for higher education. The majority of their pupils are not now middle class youngsters who 
have chosen this alternative. The pupil profile has quickly changed to a profile in which 
the majority is composed of older pupils from lower income groups, many of them already 

The schools have been rapidly adapting to these changes by trying to offer more 
relevant and up-to-date courses as a result of the demand from the labor markets in the 
regions where they operate. These observations are based on the observations of the 
majority of technical school heads, although it is not possible at the moment to provide 
quantitative information in this area. In the mean time we should take note of the 
comments of the head of the Paula Souza Center, the second largest network of public 
technical schools in Brazil, in this regard: 

"As a result of the reform of Vocational Education a significant change in the 
profile of pupils has started to take place, especially with regard to the age range and 
family income levels. Among those entering Vocational Education in the Paula Souza 
Center since 1998, the majority are over 18 years of age (76%) with a family income of a 
maximum of five minimum wages (57%). Comparison of these data with those of previous 


years, when the curriculum of vocational courses was supplementary to that of the former 
Second Stage, shows a change in the nature of provision for older students with lower 
family incomes - in other words: the Paula Souza Center now mainly serves the section of 
the population that most needs vocational education - adults and lower-income workers." 0 
See Graph 3 

Graph 3 

Paula Souza Technical School Center, Sao Paulo State 
Change in socio-economic profile of candidates in Vocational Education 




■ 15 to the 17 years 

□ 18 to the 27 years 

□ Above of 27 years 




See: Centro Paula Souza, O Ensino Tecnico em Sao Paulo, aspectos qualitativos e quantitativos , 
unpublished text, Sao Paulo, 2003 


7.3 Qualification of Teachers and Conditions of Secondary Schools 

It would be natural to expect that such a rapid expansion in a short space of time 
might have caused great disorganization in the system and that standards might have 
suffered adversely: that conditions in schools might have become worse and that the huge 
increase in demand for teachers might have brought about the recruitment of less qualified 

Fortunately, this did not happen. With regard to the qualification levels of teachers, 
Table 7 shows that while there was a 34% growth in the number of active teachers in 
secondary education between 1995 and 2001, their levels of qualification improved 
appreciably during that period. The proportion of teachers with degrees went from 82% to 
89% and those with specialized university-level teacher training certificates increased from 
74% to 77%. 

Table 7 

Proportion of Teaching Posts in Secondary Education by Level of Qualification 

Level of Qualification 

Structure of Qualification 



Secondary without Magisterio* 









Without Magisterio and without 




With Magisterio and without Licenciatura 



With Licenciatura 



Total Teachers (thousands) 



Source: MEC/INEP 

* The Magisterio is a teaching certificate obtained at secondary school 
** The Licenciatura is a teaching certificate obtained at university 

The quality of teaching greatly depends on the existence of proper school 
infrastructure. Pupils must have suitable buildings and spaces that are equipped for 
teaching, be they classrooms or sports areas. The question of physical installations is 
always a problem that can never be entirely solved, since bringing in new pupils requires 
the expansion of infrastructure, while quality depends on the permanent maintenance of 
school buildings, building new classrooms and necessary improvements to the day-to-day 
lives of pupils and teachers. 

An analysis of Table 8 shows that in spite of the enormous expansion in enrolments 
that led to an increase of the number of schools by 27% as shown in table 6, general 
conditions in schools in secondary education have not deteriorated significantly. In some 
areas there has been a slight reduction in the proportion of schools having certain facilities, 
but in others, such as computer laboratories, for example, the situation has improved 
significantly. 21 In short, studying the information contained in this table shows the same 

In the state of Sao Paulo, 70% of pupils from 5th to 8th grades and 83% of pupils in secondary school have 
this equipment available in school. In the Southeast region, 67% of secondary pupils have access to the 


phenomenon that has already been mentioned: the physical structure of secondary schools 
has very marked gaps, especially when we take into account the aims of the planned 
curriculum reform. 

Table 8 

Percentages of Secondary Schools According to Physical Installations 

Physical Installations 




111 DCIlUUla 

1 Ulal 






O 1 A (17 



Computer Laboratory 




Science Laboratory 




Sports Area 






TV/Video Room 













1 A f\C71 

1 A £fff 






Access to the Internet 















Connected to Sewage 












Source: MEC/INEP 

7.4 Improved Pupil Performance 

Between 1995 and 200 rates of repetition and non-attendance at school were 
markedly reduced, as may be seen in Table 9. As a result, the growth in the number of 
pupils completing school was much greater than the total number of pupils enrolled. In 
fact, between 1994 and 2001, the number of pupils in secondary education grew by more 
than 70% and in the same period the number of those completing school doubled. The 
improved flow through the school system also brought a better distribution in the age of 
pupils according to their grades, which benefited behavior in class. This may be seen in the 

Internet. The Northeast region, for its part, is at the initial stage of inclusion in the digital era - 18% of pupils 
from 5th to 8th grades and 38% of secondary pupils have equipment for information technology in school, 
with 24% of secondary pupils having access to the Internet (data from the School Census). 


rates of distortion of age in relation to the expected grades in the progress through school. 
The percentage of pupils enrolled at the expected age for their grade has been increasing 
and this has had a marked effect on performance in school. 


BRAZIL - 1995-2001 


10 years - 4th 

Primary Ed. 

14 years - 8th 

Primary Ed. 

17 years - 3rd 

Secondary Ed. 

















Source: MEC/INEP. 

Note : Estimated Data for 1995 and 1997. 

Obviously, while they are passing from one year to another, it is necessary to know 
if the pupils are really learning more. There are specific tests for this purpose (SAEB, 
mentioned earlier) and Brazil has been applying them systematically every two years since 
1995. The results show that there are factors positively and negatively associated with 
pupil performance. Thus, with regard to the characteristics of the school, pupil 
performance is positively associated with the level of teacher qualification, with school 
organization, with class size, with the practice of reading and with parents working with 
teachers, among other factors. With regard to pupil characteristics, performance is 
negatively associated with age-to-grade distortion and repetition, and positively with level 
of family income and parental schooling. 

For these reasons there is a general trend towards a fall in the average level of pupil 
performance in educational systems that are going through an increased growth in rates of 
inclusion of pupils in school, due to the personal characteristics of the incoming pupils. 
Many of them, when they start school, find themselves older than the age that is normal for 
the grade they are in, which worsens the age-to-grade distortion in the system. Equally, 
this recruitment into school happens among social groups with lower incomes and lower 
parental schooling levels. Thus, because of these two factors, during periods of increased 
growth in including new sectors of the population into school, it is to be expected that there 
will be a noticeable drop in pupils performance indicators over the whole network of school 

It is necessary to remember that secondary school enrolments have more yhan 
doubled in the last ten years. The young people who are entering secondary education are 
definitely coming from medium-to-low-income families, sectors of the population that are 
for the first time gaining access to this level of education. These young people are 
spending longer in school than their parents. A study carried out among 430,000 secondary 
school leavers in November, 1977 22 showed that 77% of pupils had been at school longer 
than their parents. 

MEC/INEP: Avaliacdo de Concluintes do Ensino Medio em Nove Estados, 1997. 


In these circumstances we can expect a marked drop in the average performance of 
pupils, both in primary and secondary education. When we analyze the data of the SAEB 
tests we find that in the 1999 assessment, results had suffered the influence of the process 
of inclusion which had brought in large numbers of pupils in 1997 and 1998, and at a 
slower rate in subsequent years. Even so, on a national level, the overall averages showed 
that in the 3rd grade of secondary school, the average scores in mathematics of every year 
had been maintained within the same average interval of variation. (Table 10). In 
Portuguese language, meanwhile, there is a clear drop in the results. The overall averages 
include various factors such as age-to-grade distortion, family income level and level of 
schooling of parents, which cause the decline in results that has been found. 

These variations may be considered to be slight compared to the size and speed of 
the process of including new groups of the population into secondary education. This claim 
becomes more obvious when we observe the performance of more homogenous groups of 
pupils. When the SAEB results are separated by region and age they show stability in 
pupils' proficiency levels in Portuguese and mathematics in 1999 and 2001 when the 
average intervals stay within similar bands. If we take the performance of pupils who are 
in their correct grade, the results are better. 23 

These results suggest that Brazilian schools are improving noticeably, to the point 
where they are making practical compensation for the factors associated with parental 
schooling and age-to-grade distortion. School-linked factors - which are relevant to pupil 
performance - such as the qualifications and training of teachers, the quality of teaching 
materials, working conditions in schools, classroom reading, parental participation in 
school, and other similar factors, have been working to make up for the effects of the 
increased inclusion of pupils from families with low schooling levels. This is an extremely 
important point and one that demonstrates the first objectively measured results of the 
policies for improving quality that were adopted throughout the last eight years in Brazil. 
The data show also that average pupil performance indices should begin to improve 
appreciably while the process of making access to education universal comes to fruition in 
the near future. 

Table 10 

Performance of Pupils in the SAEB Examination 
Average Variation Intervals 

Brazil - 1995 a 2001 


3 rd Grade Secondary Ed. 

Upper Limit 

Lower Limit 














3 rd Grade Secondary Ed. 

See: No caminho da Melhoria da Qualidade na Educagdo, Serie Polfticas e Resultados, Brasilia, DF, 2002. 






Upper Limit 










Lower Limit 





Source: INEP/ SAEB 

OBS: Average Variation Interval according to the Bonfenoni Method. 

Performance Level in the SAEB: 


3 rd Grade Secondary: 200 - 275 - 350 


3 rd Grade Secondary: 200-250-300