Study and find schools in Brazil

Brazil, officially known as the Federative Republic of Brazil, is a very large, in fact the largest country in South America, by land area and population.  With a total area of nearly 3.2 million square miles and a population of over 192 million, Brazil is also the 5th largest country in the world, both geographically and in terms of total population.  In addition to the Brazilian mainland, there are also a number of archipelagos that comprise part of Brazil’s territory, including Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Saint Peter and Trindale. Brazil is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, to the north by Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, to the northwest by French Guiana, the west by Bolivia and Peru, the southwest by Argentina and Paraguay and the south by Uruguay.  Due to its enormous size Brazil shares borders with every South American country, save for Ecuador and Chile.  The capital city of Brazil is Brasilia; however the largest and most important city in the country economically is Sao Paulo.
Over 83 percent of Brazil’s 192 million permanent residents live in the urbanized areas of the country, mostly the southeastern and northeastern portions of the country.  Like many countries in the Americas, Brazil experienced mass waves of European immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly southern Europeans from Portugal, Spain and Italy.  Because of this, as of the latest census nearly 50 percent of the population self identify themselves as “White,” and 43 percent as “Mixed Race,” a combination of European (mostly Portuguese) and indigenous tribal heritage.  Other minorities in the country, who account for less than 2 percent of the total population, include Blacks, Asians and Amerindians.  The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, making the country the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America.  Nearly 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, with smaller groups who adhere to Protestantism and Spiritism.
The core of Brazilian culture is derived from Portugal, due to its former colonial ties with the country.  This includes not only the Portuguese language and Roman Catholic religion, but also the country’s colonial architecture, cuisine and sport.  Brazilian music incorporates the sounds and styles of European, African and Amerindian forms, including the somba, choro and bossa nova forms of music.  The national sport of the country, as it is in Portugal, is football (soccer), and the Brazilian national team has been one of the most successful in the world throughout its long history, winning multiple World Cup titles and South American championships.
Education in Brazil
Education in Brazil is overseen and regulated by the Ministry of Education, an arm of the national government that formulates policy and defines the educational structure of all education programs.  Local governments are responsible for the implementation of education, following the principles established by the Ministry.
Education in Brazil is comprised of three distinct levels, with several grades in each.  These are Fundamental education, Middle Education and Higher Education.  Fundamental education is free for all students, and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14.  Middle education, the second level, while not mandatory, is also free, and higher education, including programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees, is free at all public universities, showing the high value the Brazilian government places on education for its people across the board.

Ensino Fundamental, or elementary school, is the only mandatory level of education in Brazil, and spans 9 years, the first of which is called “First Year,” followed by grades 1-8.  Curriculum at this level is established by the Federal Council of Education and consists of courses in Portuguese language, history, geography, science, mathematics, arts and physical education.  In grades 6-9, physical education is replaced by foreign language instruction, usually English and/or Spanish.

Ensino Médio, or secondary school, spans 3 years and is open to any student who has completed elementary school.  The curriculum in secondary school is similar to that of elementary school, only more advanced, with core classes in subjects such as Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Philosophy and Sociology, in addition to Language (Portuguese and foreign language), Geography, Mathematics and Literature.  Certain secondary schools allow students to receive professional training in the second and third years of secondary school; training that leads to career placement upon graduation.

Higher education at public universities is open to any student with a secondary school diploma, although they must first pass a very competitive entrance exam called the “vestibular” for their specific course of study.  Like in most developed countries, the structure for higher education in Brazil is divided into undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs, leading to Bachelor, Master’s and Doctorate degrees in a number of academic and technical fields.

Unlike many countries in South America, in which student participation in higher education is very low, the universities in Brazil are constantly forced to turn away qualified candidates.  On average, the number of candidates per vacancy at Brazilian universities is 30 or 40 to one, and in certain programs the number is as high as 150 or 200 to one.  This can, in part, be explained by the no-tuition universities, but it is also an indication of how highly education is esteemed by the Brazilian people.

Language Courses in Brazil

Brazil, with its lush jungles, vibrant cities, and picturesque beaches, is one of the most popular places in the world to study a foreign language. As the only country in the Americas where Portuguese is the national language, Brazil is the only option available to those who prefer to learn Portuguese in Latin America. It is thus distinct from the vast majority of other study-abroad destinations in the Americas, which are opportunities to learn Spanish, French, or English. With its population of nearly 200 million, Brazil has far more Portuguese speakers than any other place in the world.

When choosing a language school or language immersion course in Brazil, the most important thing to consider is where you would like to be located. Brazil is a vast country with a huge variety of different types of surroundings available – from deep, wild rainforests to the densely-populated cities of the coast. The majority of language courses and study abroad programs – especially those that focus on the language as the primary topic of instruction – will be found in the cities. These include Brasilia, the capital; São Paulo, the largest city and Brazil’s financial and cultural capital; and world-famous Rio De Janeiro, with its stunning mountains and ocean views. Any of these cities will afford ample opportunities for students hoping to learn the Portuguese language in Brazil.

Although the cities are the most popular places to live and study – 80% of the Brazilian population lives in the large metropolitan areas of the country – there are many programs that take students to a very different part of the country. The rural areas of Brazil, dominated by large open farmlands and dense jungles, are home to many sites of cultural and natural interest to foreign visitors. A long-term stay in the countryside while learning Portuguese is an opportunity to see a side of Brazil rarely seen or understood by outsiders. It will certainly be an experience very unlike the experience of studying in Rio or São Paulo.

Along with an immersion experience in the Portuguese language, studying abroad in Brazil is often an opportunity to study other issues alongside the language. Ecology and biodiversity, for example, are extremely popular topics to study in Brazil. As the rainforest recedes under the pressures of human agriculture, the threat to endangered species and to the global environment is urgent; yet preventing people from clearing the land to make food puts many among the rural poor at risk. This complex and controversial issue is of great importance, and so many people from around the world come to Brazil to learn about it and learn Portuguese at the same time. Others are interested in related topics, such as economic development, social justice, and geopolitics, all of which are prominent issues in Brazil.

Schools that offer language courses in Brazil

Dialogo Portuguese Language School

Salvador, Brazil
Dialogo language school was established in 1988 at Dialogo, Brazil. The institute is situated less than 5 minutes from the seashore of Barra District in Salvador. Non-instructional activities include free cultural activities as capoeira, Brazilian dance, samba, guided city tours and interaction with Brazilian students. The school is very much involved in community work, which includes organizing campaigns to collect money, food and clothing for the needy. The latest project of the school associates a NGO that aids the children in squatter settlements & low-income regions. The... See full description.

Fast Forward Language Institute

São Paulo, Brazil
Fast forward Language Institute was created in 1991, in Brazil. It is a language school that teaches students the Portuguese language. The school has two locations: In Sao Paolo and Maceio. These cities are a great place to learn Portuguese effectively by interacting with native speakers. Sao Paolo is the largest city in South America, and one of the largest in the world. The school proudly presents highly qualified tutors and professors, who are native speakers of the Portuguese language. Courses offered include intensive, super-intensive, private instruction and executive courses with... See full description.

Mundo Minas Online Portuguese School

Belo Horizonte
Mundo Minas is an online school of Brazilian Portuguese for people from any nationality. It departs from the culture of Minas Gerais (one state in the southeast region) to introduce the language structural, phonetic and semantic uses.

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RIO)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RIO) was the first private higher education institution in the country of Brazil, created by the Catholic Church.  The university was founded in 1940 by Cardinal D. Sebastião Leme and Father Leonel Franca S.J. About the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro operates under the supervision of the Society of Jesus and under the supreme authority of the Cardinal Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro as its Grand Chancellor. PUC-Rio is a non-profit philanthropic... See full description.

Career Colleges and Vocational Schools in Brazil

Because of the rapid growth of its economy and the proliferation of corporations of all sizes and in all industries, Brazil’s need for career colleges and vocational schools has never been greater. Industries such as energy, technology, and communications have grown by leaps and bounds in Brazilian cities, and the cumbersome education system has had difficulty keeping up. Tight regulation and a high level of centralization have made it difficult for vocational training programs to get on their feet, and thousands of jobs go unfilled as a result. However, this trend is reversing, and the Brazilian government is waking up to the need for change.

The numbers from the past ten years show immense growth in the area of technical and vocational training in Brazil. Since 2003, the number of career colleges and vocational schools in the country has tripled, and the number of students enrolled in these schools has grown from 100,000 to almost half a million. This is an impressive rate of growth, and it provides valuable fuel for Brazil’s emergence as a major player in the global economy.

Today, there are essentially two kinds of vocational training on offer in Brazil: government operated technical institutes; and online work-training programs offered by corporations. The government schools are in many ways more prestigious, and certainly more common: as of last year, there are over 400 government-funded technical schools and career colleges all over Brazil. Given the rigidity of Brazilian educational policy, it is somewhat surprising how diverse and adaptive these government-sponsored programs are. They offer a huge range of courses, from plumbing to IT and even teacher training, and they are designed to cater to the needs of local communities wherever they are located – schools in rural areas focus on agriculture, while those in the cities focus more on high-tech job skills.

Many private corporations in Brazil have taken matters into their own hands, opening training institutions for their employees to ensure that there is a steady workforce with the needed skills. Although these institutions are typically seen as less prestigious than the government schools, they are still popular with practical and job-oriented students.

The biggest challenge for career colleges and vocational schools in Brazil is to ensure that their programs are properly staffed and equipped. There is no shortage of demand for such programs, but money is sometimes scarce and qualified instructors can be hard to find. Also, many of the best and brightest students avoid technical schools because of the fact that credits from these institutions cannot be transferred to four-year colleges. Unlike in Argentina or Chile, where students often study at a technical institute for 1 or 2 years and then transfer to a degree-granting institution, students in Brazil cannot make this switch. The end result is that students who have the qualifications to attend four-year colleges almost always do so, which diminishes the quality of technical institutes. The best hope for fixing this problem is that bureaucratic educational policy will change, but no one can say how long that will take.

List of career colleges and vocational schools in Brazil

Brazilian Experience

Curitiba, Brazil
Brazilian Experience is a specialized educational and tourism organization, desigining various exchange programs in Brazil. The organization was established by professionals, who have gained enough international experience, but are also very passionate about the Brazilian culture and the country itself. The exchange options offered by BE include volunteering opportunities, high school options, internship, sports, and teaching opportunities. In the teaching category, individuals have the chance of teaching their native language to a Brazilian family.\

Online degree, online courses and distance learning schools in Brazil

Compared to other countries of comparable size and level of development, Brazil has a very low level of online and distance education. This is somewhat surprising, since many experts see Brazil as an ideal candidate for these techniques – 20% of the Brazilian population is illiterate, the country has a massive gap between rich and poor when it comes to access to education, and the vast rural expanse in the middle of the country can make traditional educational models difficult to implement. In addition, the country has a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure that could support distance-learning programs through television, radio, and internet. All of this leads toward the conclusion that online education would be a good solution in Brazil.

The reason for the country’s general lack of distance learning programs is the rigid and pedagogically conservative system of education regulations. Brazil’s education system is highly centralized and tightly regulated, and this makes the expansion of experimental online programs more difficult. The Brazilian educational establishment tends to see online education as a cheap substitute for the real thing, so accreditation and permits are not readily available for online-online institutions.

There are, nonetheless, changes under way in Brazil. The Associação Brasileira de Educação a Distância (Brazilian Association for Distance Education, known by the acronym ABED) has been operating for the past ten years or so in the effort to increase Brazil’s adoption of distance learning techniques. ABED hosts conferences and brings world experts to Brazil to provide support and advice for the expansion of online education. They also promote these approaches politically. Since 2005, a growing number of policymakers and political leaders in Brazil have been persuaded by the message of ABED and similar organizations, and in recent years online education in Brazil has been growing exponentially. For now, the majority of online programs are “hybrid” programs that use distance learning techniques within the context of a more traditional program – students in hybrid programs do much, but not all, of their coursework online. The success of such pilot programs is convincing more people in Brazilian society and the academic establishment that online education is an acceptable solution for Brazilian educational problems.

Corporations have taken the lead in using online education. While it is still uncommon to get a degree from an online institution, there are many companies that use distance learning approaches to train their employees. Regulations do not apply to these training courses, and so they have sprouted up all over the country. Vocational training in a wide range of jobs in the Brazilian economy is completed via online methods, and distance learning is rapidly overtaking more traditional approaches in the area of job and career training.

It is likely that the coming years will see a rapid increase in online education at all levels of the Brazilian education system, including primary and secondary schools in rural areas. The growing need for education, combined with the challenge of educating a large, sparse rural population in the Brazilian interior, will lead to rapid growth in this area. If current trends continue, education in Brazil will soon become some of the most modern and high-tech in the world.

Primary and Secondary Schools in Brazil

Education, particularly at the primary and secondary levels, is a major priority of the Brazilian government and of Brazilian society in general. With a significant rural population that remains largely uneducated and a burgeoning economy poised to take its place as one of the major players in the global marketplace, the need for education in Brazil has never been greater. Moreover, the right to education is enshrined in the Brazilian constitution, adding an extra weight to the government’s efforts to extend academic opportunities to all citizens. Interestingly, the constitution defines education in both economic and humanistic terms – the goal of the Brazilian primary and secondary education system is not just to prepare people for their working lives, but also to help them grow into better citizens and better human beings.

Primary and secondary schooling in Brazil is composed of three levels: Preschool, Primary, and Secondary. The first level is wholly optional, but is provided for free by the government. Brazilian children under the age of 6 have the option of attending preschools to help them gain fundamental reading skills and other skills that will help them to succeed in school. There are also privately-owned preschools that parents can send their children to.

After preschool, there is mandatory schooling from age 6-18. The first section of this mandatory stage, which last from age 6-14 is Ensino Fundamental, or primary school. The main goal of Fundamental is gaining literacy, which is seen as an indispensable skill for all citizens. The rest of the core curriculum comprises federally-mandated courses in Portuguese, history, geography, science, math, the arts, and often English or, in some cases, Spanish. In addition to the government curriculum, individual schools have supplementary courses based on local and regional needs. There are also special schools for teenagers and adults who for whatever reason have not yet completed their basic education – the uneducated rural population in Brazil makes it necessary to have classes available so that adults can learn literacy and basic math skills that they may not have gained as children.

After Ensino Fundamental, students graduate to Ensino Médio, where they have an additional three years of mandatory schooling. The curriculum at this level includes typical subjects such as history, math, physics, and literature, and also has mandatory courses in philosophy and sociology. These are seen as essential areas of knowledge for students’ growth as students and as people. Several different kinds of professional training are also available at the Médio level, and these training programs are also designed to cater to the economic needs of different areas of the country. For example, teenagers in rural areas might have the option of taking courses related to agriculture, whereas those in the cities might learn computer skills, office skills, or skilled trades such as plumbing and electronics.

List of primary and secondary schools in Brazil

EABH - The American School of Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Brazil
EABH was founded in 1956 in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais Brazil as a missionary school. Today it is the only International Baccalaureate (IB) School in Minas Gerais. The school provides excellent educational services so that students can easily get admitted to prestigious universities in United States, Europe and Brazil. The school has two basic academic blocks: Lower School, Upper School, along with a Brazilian program and after EABH program. Apart from studies, students actively take part in soccer, volleyball, and basketball. After-school activities include martial arts, music, art,... See full description.

Cities to study in Brazil

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