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Brazil’s ‘lost decade’ in education, 1985-1994: how to account for the lack of reform in the New Republic?

Guy Burton


Brazil’s education system is seen as having undergone substantial reform since 1995, ten years after the country returned to democracy.  What were the reasons for the delay in reform during this ‘lost decade’ in education between 1985 and 1994?  The paper identifies the reasons, including the educational legacy left by the outgoing military regime (including commitments it was unable to achieve, distortions in its spending allocation and the relative absence of control over the private sector); the political instability of the new republic’s first governments and increasing decentralisation of its political institutions; and the development of the education sector as an increasingly politicised arena of contestation between  left and  right, which would persist into the reform period after 1995.  The paper concludes by questioning whether this cycle of political instability and contestation in education has reached an end with the entry of the PT into government in 2003.


Military period (1964-85); New Republic (1985-94); education and politics

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