Historical story

The history of Education in Brazil in facts and dates

The history of education in Brazil began with the the arrival of the first Portuguese, in the 16th century, in the territories that later became the country. However, this story did not take place in a linear and consistent way; for centuries, the subject of education was neglected, being resumed only in the 19th century, still in a timid way.

In this article, we are going to talk about the history of education in Brazil and how it was developed over time. This subject may be of interest to those who want to develop a TCC on the history of Education and also to those who want to know more about what is TCC .

How did education emerge in the country?

The first Brazilian educators can be considered the Jesuit priests, who arrived in the country in 1549. They had the mission of catechizing the native peoples and propagating the Christian faith in the new territory of the Portuguese kingdom. . At the time, education was restricted to male children. For almost two centuries, Jesuit priests taught the locals how to count, read and write, being responsible for the first colleges in the country. In total, they were managed by the Society of Jesus:

  • 25 residences

  • 36 missions

  • 17 colleges and seminars

There was, however, an evident segregation in education, as the classes for the Indians were given in transitional schools, the fruit of the work of the Indians themselves. The children of settlers and landowners taught in traditional schools, which had an adequate structure due to the robust investment that went into these educational institutions.

Because it was a period of formation of the Brazilian people, from the economic, social and educational point of view, it is possible to transform this subject into a course conclusion work, known as TCC.

If you ask yourself “what is a TCC for ?”, know that the TCC is the most important work within an undergraduate or graduate course. With it, it is possible to assess whether the student can apply the knowledge acquired during the course on a specific topic. Based on it, an examination board assesses whether the student can receive his or her graduation diploma. So, if you study Pedagogy or History, the history of education can be an excellent topic.

The departure of the Jesuits and the arrival of the Royal Family

However, in 1759, the Jesuits were expelled from Portugal. As a result, the Jesuits who were in Brazil also had to leave, which impacted the education that was provided in Brazil during that period. Until the end of the 17th century, the country was completely abandoned from the educational point of view. This situation would only change after 1808, the year of the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in Rio de Janeiro.

During this period, the first cultural and scientific institutions emerged, as well as the first technical and higher education courses in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia.

This offer of new courses aimed to meet the demand for services and products from new residents and the local elite, which made Rio de Janeiro and Salvador become cities in a short time.

Education after Brazil's independence

The utilitarian and professional character instituted by D. João VI ended up perpetuating itself as the main educational guideline in the country, even though the Constitutions of 1823 and 1824 began to suggest laws that addressed the theme of popular education.

In this way, education in Brazil was intended for a wealthy class, which left a large part of the Brazilian population unassisted in terms of school infrastructure, trained teachers and access to books.

In 1827, the first law was created that suggested the creation of elementary schools in all Brazilian cities or towns. Due to its universalist character, it became known as the Golden Law of Basic Education. However, it ended up not being implemented.

During the Regency, there was a constitutional reform called the Additional Act, in which it was determined that higher education should be the responsibility of the central power, while elementary education, secondary education and teacher training would be the responsibility of the provinces. This decentralization had harmful consequences for education, since it lost the coordination of investments and an egalitarian vision between the regions of the country. However, it is the determination that remains today.

In the 1920s, the Escola Nova movement emerged, formed by a group of scholars on the subject of Education, proposing changes in the educational environment and a new conformation of the role of the State as an articulator of ideas and proposals for the education of children and adolescents.

After the fall of the Estado Novo (1945), the proposal of the Law of Directives and Bases of National Education appears. This law was processed for years until its final approval in 1961 (Law nº 4024). It was a movement to defend public, universal and free schools. During this period, some important milestones for education emerged, which can be seen in the table below:




Emergence of the CAPES Foundation (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel)


Federal Board of Education Installation


Completion of primary education in eight years is mandatory and the terms 1st and 2nd grades begin to be used


The designation Basic Education and Secondary Education (both belonging to basic education) begins to be used. There was also the integration of early childhood education, now with more relevance on the national scene.

After the country's redemocratization, the Brazilian Constitution of 1988 was promulgated, which universalized primary education and sought to focus on the eradication of illiteracy in the country.

Education in Brazil still has a long way to go

Even though it has advanced substantially in the 20th and 21st centuries, education in Brazil still suffers from serious and urgent problems. The precariousness of school infrastructure, the lack of teacher qualification, regional differences in educational quality, the still present illiteracy, the situation of functional illiteracy and the gap between public and private education make Brazil worst rankings when it comes to international assessment of student learning.

Educational deficiencies at the base of the Brazilian population cause consequences that extend to other spheres, such as economic, social and cultural. The inequalities between the rich and the poor are even more accentuated, which makes problems such as urban violence and corruption still constant ills in our society.

A long-term, consistent and inclusive educational plan, reflecting on quality education for all Brazilians, going from basic level in day care centers and kindergarten and advancing to cutting-edge research in universities, should be a priority for any government, regardless of its party or ideology.