Brazil ranked 63rd among the 70 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2015 international student assessments, with more than 80% of its students enrolled in an underperforming public school system. Traditionally, Brazilian high school students have spent just 25 hours per week at school, compared with 33 hours for the average US secondary school student.
800 hours to 1,400 hours
of instruction per year
In 2008, however, the state of Pernambuco began testing longer school days. Standardized exam performance jumped among full-time students. School abandonment dropped to close to zero. And Pernambuco went from a national high school ranking of 22nd in 2007, to consistently ranking among the top three on recent rankings of Brazil’s 26 states and its federal district. By 2016 educators had begun to dream of taking this nationwide, something that would require the leadership of Brazil’s Ministry of Education as well as buy-in from the 27 education secretaries, new legislation, a massive mobilization of schools and a significant investment in infrastructure and resources.
After helping assess the effectiveness of full-time secondary education compared with the part-time model and determining a clear improvement, two teams from Bain’s São Paulo office presented recommendations to the ministry advocating for the change, and then participated in a road show to propose the idea to all state secretaries and five education NGOs.
Partly as a result of these efforts, new legislation was approved in September 2016 providing for the gradual migration of public high schools to a full-time model. The minimum hours will gradually rise from 800 hours to 1,400 hours of instruction per year.
Bain supported the Ministry of Education’s national rollout, making sure that the 500 schools admitted to the program in the first wave met minimum quality requirements and that the 257,000 admitted students would have a better-quality education. The teams also designed and set up an implementation management office, and helped NGOs and the government develop the capabilities needed to push the program forward and monitor its implementation.
Today the Ministry of Education is in the process of implementing a $260 million (1 billion Brazilian real) investment in incentives to encourage schools to become full time. Each student registered brings a payment to the state of 2,000 real per year for four years. Students come from every socioeconomic level, and this program is an important step toward improving their futures. Based on prior patterns, we expect a significant improvement in student performance within three years.