Teachers in Brazil
In recent years, the challenges of teachers in Brazil have become a focus of the Brazilian government. With the introduction of a new Plan for Education, issues such as a shortage of teachers, inadequate pay and teacher training and unequal access to education in the country are now receiving greater attention.

Yet, a recent outbreak of violence in the form of a school shooting, controversy on the teaching of particular subjects, and widespread teacher dissatisfaction continue to make the profession an unappealing one. The following are the top 10 facts about teachers in Brazil.

Top 10 Facts About Teachers in Brazil

  1. Many Brazilian teachers report feeling undervalued. A recent study has shown that nearly half of the teachers in Brazil would not recommend the teaching profession to students.
  2. Educational reforms have targeted teacher quality. The district of São Paulo has introduced systems to improve its teacher’s skills. For instance, teaching coaches are provided in every school. This initiative awards teachers and schools meeting annual targets. Additionally, ongoing training place greater value on education and provide teachers with positive motivation.
  3. Class sizes in Brazil have dropped by eight percent between 2005 and 2016. Additionally, many teachers in Brazil are working at two schools daily. This is due to a shortage of teachers in many communities. As a result, they teach in four-hour shifts with little time for lesson planning and study.
  4. Teacher education has only recently been standardized. Before 1996, teachers were not required to have a post-secondary degree and many had not attended college. Now, there is a requirement for teachers to obtain a degree and pass a national examination. As of 2010, 40 percent of all working teachers in the São Paulo district remain unaccredited. As a result, free courses are now available to teachers to improve practical classroom skills.
  5. Salaries for teachers in Brazil are below average. According to the OECD, in 2018, the maximum average salary for teachers in Brazil was $24,100 USD. This is in comparison to the average of $45,900 per year in surrounding countries. This places many teachers in a lower socioeconomic status. Additionally, in recent years, low pay has also contributed to several teacher strikes in Brazil, some that have turned violent.
  6. Teachers provide support for students living in poverty. In 2013, 2.7 percent of students in Brazil between 5 and 14 years old were working, rather than attending school. Of those, many also make up the 7.2 percent of Brazilians reportedly illiterate as of 2015. Historically, many Brazilian parents doubt the value of education for their children. That being said, teachers are urged to monitor student attendance and encourage parents to keep their children in school with government ‘Bolsa Familia’ incentives.
  7. The number of indigenous teachers in Brazil has grown. Brazil is home to about 900,000 indigenous peoples. Children in mostly rural indigenous communities are four times more likely to work rather than attend school. Over the last two decades, the Brazilian government has adopted a commitment to provide education to indigenous children in their traditional languages and using traditional methods. Indigenous schools are autonomous, but legally overseen by the Brazilian government and staffed by specially trained teachers from within the community.
  8. Following the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president in 2018, a right-wing movement called Escola Sem Partido or School without Party (ESP) gained ground. Responding to allegations that teachers have spread left-leaning propaganda in classrooms, advocates have called for a ban on the promotion of controversial political and social views in education. Critics argue that the ban violates constitutional freedom to teach and learn. Conservative legislator Ana Caroline Campagnolo has suggested that students report teachers in violation, resulting in a rash of police encounters in classes.
  9. Recent violence has led to the death of two teachers. In March of 2019, two teachers and five students were killed in a school shooting in a public school in Suzano. The incident was one of a handful of school shootings since 2000, which remain rare in Brazil but are causing concern about the security of classrooms and the safety of teachers and students.
  10. The use of technology as an educational resource is growing. Half of all Brazilian teachers reported using technology, particularly mobile phones, in lesson planning and gathering resources for the classroom. The number of educational resources available, including apps, pre-prepared lesson plans, and online videos, has significantly increased. The district of Sao Paulo issued a $5.5 billion BRL contract in 2013 for technology and educational content. Samsung, Unicef, and the Brazilian organization, Nova Escola, are among the companies gathering original content, providing online lessons and teacher training materials and targeting plans to improve student engagement.

The top 10 facts about teachers in Brazil indicate obstacles to improvement, but a growing effort. Reforms are being put in place to fund schools and increase the number and quality of teachers. These improvements show promise to both Brazilian educators and students.

– Marissa Field

Photo: Agustin Diaz

Girls' Education in Maldives
Despite its beautiful beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, Maldives is one of the poverty-stricken countries battling its developmental growth. Roughly 35 percent of Maldives is under 18 years old, making education a key area for social investment, especially in girls’ education. While the primary education is achieved equally by boys and girls, girls’ education in Maldives ends before they move to secondary education, which remains a big challenge for the Maldives government to combat.

The literacy rates for both adults and youth are the highest in the region and exceed the world average. Maldives has made such progress in achieving universal primary education with perfect gender parities, despite the devastating tsunami of 2005 that swept over most of its islands. However, it remains a challenge to ensure quality remains a key concern in primary education and to encourage girls to pursue secondary and higher education.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Maldives

  • 100 percent enrollment ratio in primary education
  • 99 percent of pupils starting grade 1 reach grade 5
  • 65 percent enrollment ratio in lower secondary education
  • 7 percent enrollment ratio in higher secondary education
  • 92 boys for every 100 girls in primary education
  • 112 boys for every 100 girls in secondary education

The government of Maldives considers gender disparity a non-issue and does not guarantee a free and compulsory primary education for all girls. The Maldives’ Ministry of Education’s 2006 statistics indicate that every primary school age boy and girl in the country are enrolled in primary school. Moreover, 99 percent of girls who have completed primary school have continued into secondary education. However, after the 2007 Asian Development Bank Assessment, the government is taking steps to encourage girls to pursue postsecondary education.

Challenges and Barriers to Girls’ Education in Maldives

Maldives is located on a 1,000 kilometer-long chain of islands where the cost of transporting teachers and students becomes an expensive affair. Since transportation among islands is expensive, many children are at risk of being invisible, meaning they are unable to receive an education or they move away from parents to attend school. In addition, Maldives is dependent on expatriate teachers, and the quality of education is uneven for the 70 percent that lives on islands far from the capital, where two-thirds of teachers remain untrained, libraries and separate toilets for girls are unavailable and children with special needs have little access to school. Because of the lack of training, especially in gender sensitivity, curriculum materials and textbooks have strong gender biases.

Due to strong gender biases, women’s participation in politics and senior management levels is very low. In ADB’s (2007) analysis, women constitute only 15 percent of the legislators and senior officials in Maldives, and only a third of government officials are female. Gender division of labor is evident in public service employment with women making up 54 percent of the temporary positions, primarily to carry out tasks that are culturally “suitable” to them. For example, in the sectors of education, health and welfare, women are supervised and managed by senior ranking male employees.

Improvements in Girls’ Education in Maldives

In a country where settlements are sparsely scattered across small islands, the government has established at least two primary schools in each atoll to improve girls’ education in Maldives. With support from UNICEF, the pilot initiative of child-friendly schools, which was started with 22 schools, was scaled up to 105 during the post-tsunami period.

In addition, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education have come up with a novel solution: a series of 20 Teacher Training Centres (TRCs), one in each of the atolls that make up the country. These TRCs provide teachers and students with a trove of modern online teaching and learning tools at the touch of their fingertips, thanks to banks of high-speed Internet-enabled computers, SmartBoards that allow for interactive training at a distance and a website being developed by Cambridge International Examinations that are adapted specifically to Maldives. The Maldives Government has recognized the importance of training school teachers and heads supervisors in child-friendly approaches.


A report suggests that a gender audit should be conducted at the institutional level, so issues related to the subordinate role of women in organizations are highlighted. There should be a political will to spark organizational structures that allow gender equality in the workplace, which in turn can encourage girls to continue school at higher levels, as well as to pursue learning in fields that have traditionally been male-dominated. School and teacher training focused projects should make their output, outcome and impact indicators more explicit about progress milestones in terms of closing the gender gaps.

Although there is a good enrollment of girls and boys in the primary school, gender disparity exists in access to and attainment in secondary and post-secondary education and vocational training programs. The stereotypical perceptions of gender roles limit girls’ and women’s mobility and restrict their educational participation beyond primary level, as such opportunities are available only in urban areas or city centers. Girls’ education in Maldives is very low at the secondary level and measures have been taken by the government to motivate girls to study further and take-up jobs which are male-dominated.

– Preethi Ravi
Photo: Flickr

Education in Liberia
From 2014-2015, the Ebola virus swept through Liberia. The disease left nearly 5,000 people dead and thousands orphaned, childless or without access to education. The outbreak, combined with 14 years of civil war, weakened an already crumbling education system. In 2014, the Liberian government closed more than 4,000 schools for six months. The action left 1.5 million children without access to sufficient education. Organizations like UNICEF, USAID and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) developed the following programs to rebuild the education system. Their hope is to provide better access to quality education in Liberia.

  1. USAID — Education Crisis Response program
    The goal: to ensure that children had access to education during school closures and to protect children from the Ebola virus after schools were reopened.
    The methodology: During the Ebola epidemic, USAID broadcast lessons on the radio for students affected by the school closures. After the Liberian government reopened schools in Feb. 2015, the organization trained teachers and administrators in Ebola prevention. USAID also assisted schools in creating response plans in case of another Ebola outbreak.
  2. UNICEF — The Education Programme
    The goal: to make education in Liberia easily accessible for children living in poverty or with disabilities.
    The methodology: UNICEF collaborates with local initiatives to make children’s physical and mental health a part of the curriculum. The program also encourages needs assessments for students and educates parents through PTA programs.
  3. Global Partnership for Education (GPE)
    The goal: to fund student scholarships and rebuilding projects.
    The methodology: After the Ebola crisis, GPE donated $40 million in grants to over 2,500 schools. GPE used the grants to supply students with textbooks, build and furnish classrooms and construct housing units for teachers. The funds were also used for teacher training and scholarships for children whose parents didn’t previously have the means to send their children to school.
    In a GPE video, Elizabeth Toe, a K2 teacher, stressed the role of education in sustaining and building communities, “They are Liberian children, and Liberia needs them. They are important. Whether you are poor or rich, you are a part of this country. And you will make a difference in your country and in your family, especially for the girls.”
  4. USAID — Education Quality and Access in Liberia
    The goal: to supply schools with a quality curriculum.
    The methodology: USAID trains teachers in a curriculum that improves literacy and numeracy in primary schools. It prepares students to continue furthering their education. Two of the programs are mentioned here:
  5. Rural Teacher Training Institute
    The goal: to certify all teachers in primary school education. According to USAID, this will “implement the national plan to ensure all children are reading by the end of Grade 3.”
    The methodology: USAID trains teachers in basic curricula, with a focus on reading and math. This training ensures that students in rural areas are receiving the same education as children in larger communities.

  1. Liberia Teacher Training program
    The goal: to assist schools with developing new administration and operations.
    The methodology: USAID trains administrators in policy-making, monitoring learning and making basic management decisions so that schools can develop sustainable practices and operate without assistance.
  2. USAID — Advancing Youth Project
    The goal: to “provide increased access to […] basic education, social opportunities, leadership development and sustainable livelihood pathways for out-of-school Liberian youth.”
    The methodology: The project is for youth who have been affected by the education crisis, who either did not attend school or had their schooling interrupted. They are able to take skill-building classes to secure an occupation and contribute to their community’s economy.
  3. USAID — Girls’ Opportunities to Access Learning (GOAL) Plus program
    The goal: to increase girls’ enrollment in school.
    The methodology: GOAL Plus grants girls in grades one through six with scholarships to ensure their enrollment and continued success in higher education in Liberia. Educating girls is often the main focus of programs like USAID’s because educated women are able to financially contribute to their communities in nations where men have traditionally been the breadwinners.
  4. USAID — Higher Education for Liberian Development
    The goal: to address Liberia’s development challenges.
    The methodology: In partnership with the University of Liberia and Cuttington University, USAID is building “Centers for Excellence.” There, students with interests in engineering and agriculture can pursue quality higher education in Liberia. Citizens with engineering and agricultural skills are crucial to rebuilding Liberia’s economy.
  5. USAID — Center for Excellence in Health and Life Sciences project
    The goal: to “improve the quality of instruction through faculty and staff strengthening, curriculum development and upgrades in instructional resources.”
    The methodology: In partnership with the University of Liberia and Indiana University, USAID created a new two-year undergraduate program for students pursuing careers in medicine, midwifery, life sciences or public health.

Rachel Cooper

Photo: Flickr

Education_Crisis_ResponseIn the past twenty years, education rates in Nigeria have been the center of change, but not always for the better. After years of educational prosperity, rates dramatically dropped to approximately 70 percent in 2008, and continue to be low today.

Creative, an international development organization has created a program to boost education in Nigeria. According to the organization, “the three-year Nigeria Education Crisis Response program works to expand access to quality learning opportunities for displaced, out-of-school children and youth ages 6 to 17.”

Creative has joined forces with more than 30 Nigerian organizations as well as traditional and religious leaders in order to enhance efforts. Following this pattern has helped to provide safe and accessible classes as well as increase community support.

The organization notes that “using a proven curriculum, the displaced children receive basic education, with an emphasis on math and literacy. In addition, the centers provide vital psychological and social services to the often traumatized pupils—many of whom have witnessed horrendous acts of violence.”

Another key element to the Education Crisis Response Program is the class size and finding individuals who gain training to become teachers. These teachers are found in the communities where displaced children reside, then trained in order to prepare them for the hard task of helping traumatized children catch up.

One of these teachers, Jummai Dauda, said on the subject, “When I started with them, most of them have forgotten almost everything they had been learning in their schools, because when they came, they cannot read, they cannot write.”

“The type of education they do receive is a good one,” says Halilu Usman Rishi of Bauchi’s State Education Secretariat. “That is going to [pave the] way for them to mainstream to a formal system of education.” The goal to mainstream students by has been scheduled for 2017.

In order for this to happen, the program has enlisted and trained government officials to continue on once the program phases out.

Katherine Martin

Sources: World Bank, Creative Associates International 1, Creative Associates International 2, Creative Associates International 3, USAID
Photo: Wikimedia