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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Cash boost for schools in Brazil
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, São Paulo

President Lula
President Lula wants to improve Brazil's education system
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has unveiled the details of a $4bn plan to improve standards of education across the country.

The proposals will tackle problems ranging from low teacher salaries to poor standards of reading and writing.

President Lula said he hoped this would be the start of a new century of education in Brazil.

Education has long been recognized as a major weakness in Brazil's effort to achieve its full economic potential.

While access to education has been significantly improved in recent years, salaries for teachers are often poor, many children are - for practical purposes - illiterate, and the infrastructure of many schools is often shockingly bad.

Schools close

Earlier this week more than 70 schools had to close in one state in the poorer north east of the country because they were unsafe for use.

In one case, children were shown on national television studying in an alternative location which is also used as a bar at night.

Introducing a package of more than 40 measures, President Lula said he wanted to see a new century of education in Brazil - one capable of ensuring a student would succeed according to their ability rather than their family's wealth.

The measures include:

  • a new index of basic educational development to help the weakest parts of the country
  • a new test to measure reading and writing abilities of younger children
  • more funding for transport and information technology.
  • a new minimum wage for teachers will be phased in and there are plans for increased access to higher education
  • guarantee of electric light for all schools.
The president said that failure to act in the past has meant that today Brazilians watched television programmes about young people involved in criminality and girls aged 15 to 17 working as prostitutes.

Concern about educational standards is widespread in Brazilian society, and the implementation of this plan will be watched carefully to see if it lives up to its promise.

Brazil votes in presidential poll
18 Jul 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Brazil
07 Feb 07 |  Country profiles

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