Brazil’s Economically Active Population

– or – Over 70% never attended a professional qualification course

The professional education, which includes courses aimed at training and professionalizing employees, still leaves much to be desired, according to the Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (Pnad = National Survey by Household). According to the survey, 72,4% of the economically active population never attended a professional class. Or in absolute numbers, 71,5 million working people. Among the unemployed, 5,3 million people never went to a professional education course (66,4%).

The figures also show that the professional education run by the government has the lowest impact, clearly demonstrating the disinterest of the Lula government in education in general and professional education in particular. Only 22,4% of the total of students enrolled in professional education attended public institutions. Institutions offering private education (NGOs, private schools, trade unions etc.) had 53.1%. Professional education linked to the System “S” (SESI, SENAC, Sebrae, among others) had 20.6%. System S is the collective name of eleven professional categories, established by Brazilian Law.

Among the courses of professional training, also known as free courses, because in general they do not require a certain level of pre-education, computer courses came on top with 41.7%. Then, there are the areas of commerce and management (14%) and industry and maintenance (11.2%).

Students protesting Lula’s education policy

To be honest I have to say, that end of December last year as a New Year’s present Lula announced to create 38 federal institutes of education, science and technology in the country. Two of them will be in Rio de Janeiro. The measure, according to the government, increases the number of students in technical courses at secondary level, technology and higher degrees from 215 thousand to half a million. (Tell me, what is, half a million out of a population of some 180 million for an emerging economy, which – according to Lula – has to be one of the economic forces in this world.)

Please don’t laugh at the following: “What is happening today is that the country is experiencing a time of increased investment in science and technology. This year (2009) we will open 100 colleges, in a country that had opened 140 in a century,” Lula said.

This sounds nice and hopeful, but there are two problems with Lula. First Lula always announces plans and uses words as ‘we will’ and at the final end people discover that of all the announced plans almost nothing is really implemented. Second, the announced plan covers mainly investments in higher education, and that’s the problem in this country, there are almost no professionally educated blue-collar craftsmen. If there is money available, all money goes to universities and higher technical institutes, as only half of the new-to-create openings is reserved for the professional education at mid-level. But developing a future and filling the shortage in the industry the country needs many more blue-collar professionals. When confronted with these critical remarks, Lula, after almost seven years of his reign, still blames previous governments or the sitting state or local governments. But as a matter of fact it is Lula’s government that fails in the first place, as ……..

In 2008 the Ministry of Education used only 27% of its investment budget. For 2009 the budget for this ministry faced a BRL 1.6 billion (€ 570 million) cut. And to make it worse, among the programs affected by the budget cut, is ‘Brasil Alfabetizado’ (Literate Brazil)

Public school in the township Sabonetinho-Maranhão

Of the 141.5 million people in Brazil older than 15 years, an estimated 14.1 million is illiterate, of which only 547 thousand attend alphabetisation classes (3.8%).
A recent study focussing on the Education of Youth and Adults (EJA), the Alphabetisation for Youth and Adults and the Professional Education shows, that there were (2007) 13.5 million illiterate Brazilians (9.5% of the population older than 15 years) with no prospect of change, as they do not attend classes to learn to read and write.

In absolute numbers, Bahia was the state with the largest number of illiterates who were not enrolled: 1.8 million people. Then comes São Paulo, with 1.4 million. Among the states which are trying to overhaul their backwardness is the Amazonas: 19.3% of the illiterate population over 15 years was attending classes.

Is it any better with the literate population? Another study reveals that 77 million Brazilians (almost 50% of the population) never ever read a book.

Lula’s daily repeated rhetoric, criticising his predecessors sounds hollow. His: “Tell me of any government, in any period of time, in this country, which did 50% of what we are doing for education,” trying to shoot down critics, is laughable. Just drive around and see with your own eyes the devastating status of school buildings, let alone the poor low level of public education and the lack of (even the most basic) educational material.

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