Inequality of educational_opportunity_in_higher_education

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Inequality of educational_opportunity_in_higher_education

  1. 1. Graduate School of Social Sciences Msc International Development Studies Master’s ThesisInequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education São Paulo, Brazil Michal Ragowan January 2013
  2. 2. Cover photo: Classroom of the public secondary school E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin in São Paulo, BrazilMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 2
  3. 3. Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education São Paulo, Brazil Michal Ragowan Student number: 10156984 Supervisor: Dr. Xavier Bonal Sarró Second assessor: Drs. Margriet Poppema Amsterdam, January 2013 Master’s Thesis Msc International Development Studies Graduate School of Social Sciences University of AmsterdamMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 3
  4. 4. SupervisorDr. Xavier Bonal SarróSociology, Anthropology and International Development StudiesGraduate School of Social SciencesUniversity of AmsterdamPlantage Muidergracht 141018 TV AmsterdamThe NetherlandsE-mail: F.X.Bonal@uva.nlhttp://www.uva.nl/over-de-uva/organisatie/medewerkers/content/b/o/f.x.bonal/f.x.bonal.htmlSecond AssessorDrs. Margriet F. PoppemaSenior Lecturer International Development StudiesHuman Geography, Planning and International Development Studies (GPIO)Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences (FMG)University of AmsterdamPlantage Muidergracht 141018 TV AmsterdamThe NetherlandsPhone: 020-5255035 / 020-5257409E-mail: M.F.Poppema@uva.nlhttp://www.uva.nl/profiel/m.f.poppemaMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 4
  5. 5. AbstractIn Brazil, the educational system acts as an elitist entity which serves students from high-income classes.Therefore, the structural inequalities present throughout the country are reflected in the area of educationas well. Public education at primary and secondary educational levels is of poor quality. Here the pupilsdo not receive the necessary preparation for the entrance exam of a public university. Conversely, pupilswho have the privilege to attend private primary and secondary schools are sufficiently prepared andsucceed in entering a public university. In Brazil, at the higher educational level, public universities areof much better quality than private universities. Pupils who attend public schools are left with theeducational opportunity of attending low-cost private universities. The purpose of this research was toexplore how socio-economic factors influence the access of low- to middle-income students to publichigher educational institutions. Additionally, the aim was to research the educational experience ofstudents from low- to middle-income classes who are attending low-cost private universities. Moreover,the aim was to explore the quality of low-cost private universities and the perceptions and expectations ofthe students in reference to their educational opportunities. The research took place in São Paulo, Brazil, where I conducted 22 semi-structured in-depthqualitative interviews. I interviewed 22 students from the following different low-cost privateuniversities: Centro Universitário Sant’anna (Unisant’anna), Universidade Nove de Julho (Uninove),Universidade Paulista (Unip) in São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto and, finally, Centro UniversitárioAnhanguera de São Paulo (Anhanguera). Additionally, I conducted participatory research activities withchildren, ranging from 16 to 21, at three different public secondary schools in São Paulo. For this, Ivisited the following secondary schools: E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin, E.E. Augusto Meirelles Reis Filhoand E.E. Casimiro de Abreu.Key words: privatization; higher education; educational opportunities; inequality; São Paulo.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 5
  6. 6. AcknowledgementsI very much enjoyed conducting this research in São Paulo, Brazil, and there are several people who Iwould like to acknowledge and thank, because they helped me in one way or another during this research.First of all, I would like to acknowledge and thank my supervisor, Dr. Xavier Bonal Sarró. He helped mefind my respondents and guided me through the entire process from the field to the thesis writing.Additionally, I would like to thank my family who supported me through this research. I would like tothank my translator, Leonel Marini, who helped me with the translations during the first ten interviews. Ialso want to thank Maria Antonieta Penido, who welcomed me to her home and helped me get to knowSão Paulo. Moreover, I want to thank Mara Paulini Machado who invited me to stay at the house of heraunt and uncle during my stay in São Paulo. Furthermore, I would like to thank Camilla Croso who referred me to Romualdo Portelo and JoséMarcelino Rezende Pinto from Universidade Paulista. Moreover, I would like to thank RomualdoPortelo who introduced me to Carlos Bauer from Uninove and Renata Marcilio Candido fromAnhanguera. These professors provided me with the contact information of several of their students.Additionally, I would like to thank José Marcelino Rezende Pinto who referred me to Ana Paula LeivarBrancaleoni from Unip in Ribeirão Preto. Thanks to Ana Paula and her sister Renata Brancaleoni, whohelped me with translations, I was able to conduct six interviews in Riberão Preto with the students fromUnip. Moreover, I would like to thank George Longhitano from Unisant’anna for introducing me to hisstudents. Of course, I would like to thank all the students who participated in the interviews and whospared an hour of their time to help me in this research. Especially, I would like to thank Guilherme Reiswho invited me to visit the three public secondary schools where he was teaching. Thanks to Guilherme,I was able to visit these schools and get a first-hands impression of the quality of public education atprimary and secondary levels. This was quite an experience.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 6
  7. 7. Table of ContentsAbstract………………………………………………………………………………………………..5Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………………....6Table of Contents………………………………………………………………………………….......7Glossary………………………………………………………………………………………………..91. Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………..102. Theoretical Framework…………………………………………………………………………...12 2.1. Globalization agenda…………………………………………………………………………...12 2.2. Processes of privatization………………………………………………………………………12 2.2.1. Privatization of education……………………………………………………………....13 2.3. Effects on educational policy…………………………………………………………………...15 2.4. Educational opportunities………………………………………………………………………16 2.5. Equity and the reproduction of inequalities..…………………………………………………...18 2.6. Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………...203. Research Methodology…………………………………………………………………………….21 3.1. Research questions……………………………………………………………………………...21 3.2. Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………21 3.3. Units of analysis………………………………………………………………………………...23 3.4. Methods…………………………………………………………………………………………23 3.5. Limitations and ethics……...……………………………………………………………………27 3.6. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………284. Context: Introducing São Paulo, Brazil…………………………………………………………..29 4.1. Socio-economic background........................................................................................................29 4.2. Educational policy in Brazil…………………………………………………………………….33 4.3. Sistema educacional Brasileiro…………………………………………………………………35 4.4. Accessibility to higher education……………………………………………………………….40 4.5. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………455. The Influence of Socio-Economic Factors………………………………………………………...46 5.1. Real opportunities of students from low- to middle-income classes……………………………46 5.1.1. Doing a pré-vestibular or cursinho……………………………………………………...47 5.1.2. Introducing low-cost private universities………………………………………………..49 5.1.3. Applying for a bolsa……………………………………………………………………..53 5.2. Influence of socio-economic factors on access………………………………………………….55Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 7
  8. 8. 5.2.1. Parental influence………………………………………………………………………..55 5.2.2. Household income……………………………………………………………………….58 5.2.3. Previous schools…………………………………………………………………………606. The Educational Experience and Expectations…………………………………………………...67 6.1. Conditions under which the educational experience takes place………………………………...67 6.1.1. Maintaining a job………………………………………………………………………...67 6.1.2. Attending classes at night………………………………………………………………..67 6.1.3. Minimum grade average to maintain bolsa……………………………………………...68 6.2. Quality of low-cost private universities…………………………………………………………69 6.2.1. Evaluation of the quality………………………………………………………………...69 6.2.2. Perceptions of the educational experience and quality………………………………….76 6.3. Expectations regarding further educational and professional opportunities…………………….78 6.3.1. Further educational opportunities……………………………………………………….78 6.3.2. Further professional opportunities………………………………………………………78 6.3.3. Inequalities………………………………………………………………………………807. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………...82 7.1. Findings of the research……………………………………………………………………83 7.2. Reflection on the methodology…………………………………………………………….85 7.3. Suggestions for further study………………………………………………………………85Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………87Appendix I: Interview Guide………………………………………………………………………….93Appendix II: Overview Respondents…………………………………………………………………96Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 8
  9. 9. GlossaryBolsa ScholarshipCAPES Foundation Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Educational Personnel, linked to the Ministry of EducationCNPq National Council of Scientific and Technological Development, linked to the Ministry of Science and TechnologyConcurso público Public examination in order to work in a public areaCursinho / Pré-vestibular Preparatory course to prepare students for the vestibular and in some cases for the ENEM examEducacão de Jovens e Adultos (EJA) Education for both youth as adults, where students can complete their primary and secondary schooling (previously referred to as supletivo)Educação professional (nível técnico) Professional education (technical course) of two years, usually done after secondary schoolENADE National Survey of Student PerformanceENEM Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (National Examination of Secondary Education)Ensino fundamental Primary schoolEnsino médio Secondary schoolEnsino superior Higher educationFIES Student Financing Programme (loan scheme)FUNDEB Fund for the Maintenance and Development of Basic Education and Enhancement of Educational ProfessionalsFUNDEF Fund for Maintenance and Development of the Fundamental Education and Valorization of TeachingMinistério da Educação (MEC) Ministry of EducationParticular PrivateProUni University for All Programme (scholarship programme)Pública PublicSupletivo Education for both youth as adults (now called EJA)Vale refeição Meal allowance or meal voucherVestibular Entrance exam of higher educational institutionsMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 9
  10. 10. 1. IntroductionIn Brazil, the segregated educational system causes for an unjust distribution of educational opportunities.The educational system in Brazil offers more and better quality education to children from the moreaffluent classes of society. Conversely, poor families, who often have a different cultural, ethnic andlinguistic background, have less educational opportunities and receive education of inferior quality. In Brazil today, processes of capitalist expansion are derived from neoliberal policies. Theseprocesses have caused for the area of education to increasingly become a space open to the rules andregulations of the market. Moreover, the current globalization agenda has greatly affected global andnational policies, impacting educational development and equity. The expansion of capitalist and market-led economies and the decentralization of the state have resulted in processes of privatization and theincreasing expansion of private schools. The privatization of education has caused for educationalreform, affecting educational policies. Moreover, the privatization of education has greatly affected theeducational opportunities of students from low- to middle-income classes. Furthermore, in reference to the privatization of education, higher education has become a greatfield of interest for profit-seeking business. Educational policies, such as the Global Campaign forEducational for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goal Two to achieve universal primaryeducation, focus on sending all children to primary and sometimes secondary schools. Moreover, thelittle budget governments have for education is primarily devoted to primary education. Therefore, thegap of investment in higher education is filled by private investors. In the case of Brazil, private schools at primary and secondary educational levels are of muchbetter quality than public schools. Therefore, children from the more affluent classes of society are sentto private primary and secondary schools. Conversely, at the higher educational level, public universitiesare considered more prestigious and of much better quality than private universities. To enter thesepublic universities, the student must pass the vestibular, which is the entrance exam. This exam is to suchan extent difficult that usually only children pass, who have attended private primary and secondaryschools. Contradicting, children from low- to middle-income classes who do not share the privilege ofattending private schools generally do not pass the vestibular. This leaves the students from low- tomiddle-income classes with the educational opportunity of attending low-cost private universities, butmost of these students do not have the economic conditions to pay for tuition fees. Some studentsmanage to obtain a scholarship which enables them to attend a low-cost private university. Nevertheless,the education at these universities is of inferior quality in comparison to the quality of education at publicuniversities. Therefore, access to good quality education and the unjust distribution of educationalopportunities are pressing issues in Brazil. Moreover, the Brazilian educational system serves the affluentMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 10
  11. 11. classes of society, greatly reflecting the inequalities present throughout the social-, political- andeconomic system in Brazil. At the start of the sugar production in the coastal areas of Brazil, which made use of slave labor,the means of production were controlled by a small group of owners. The colonial period lasted from1500 to 1822 and focused on the accumulation of wealth based on property. In agriculture, there was asignificant growth in productivity, but the great concentration of land ownership prevented thedemocratization of possession of the land (CEBRAP 2012: 15). This “led to extreme exploitation ofworkers in the absence of social policies, dragging down standards of living in the countryside.”(CEBRAP 2012: 15) As a result, mass migration occurred as people moved to the city in the search ofemployment and opportunities. This caused for a transformation of Brazil towards urbanization, initiatingthe industrialization, which lasted from 1930 to 1980. Conversely, these changes did not bring about ajust and democratic society. “It became an authentically capitalist inequality, tied to monetary wealth,which exploited differences of region, race/color and gender to create a working class, in which themajority of its members did not have social and labor rights.” (CEBRAP 2012: 13) Moreover, by the1980s the economic growth had stalled, poverty grew and inequality became more pronounced, markingthe beginning of the crisis. However, with this also came an end to the military regime and theestablishment of the Brazilian Federal Constitution as of 1988, introducing the first steps towards ademocracy. The structural causes of inequality are embedded in Brazil’s historic trajectory, “producingexclusion and contributing to wealth concentration in the hands of the few” (CEBRAP 2012: 3). “Povertyin Brazil remains high and social inequality in the country reaches extreme levels.” (CEBRAP 2012: 23)Moreover, “Brazil remains among the five most unequal countries in the world” (IMF 2011). This thesis is divided into seven chapters. Now I will discuss the theoretical framework, whichare the theories and the academic debate in which I placed my research. I will then discuss the researchmethodology and explain which methods I used and the reasons behind this. Furthermore, I will discussthe context and my empirical findings. The following two chapters will discuss the data collected in SãoPaulo. Finally, I will complete this thesis with a conclusion.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 11
  12. 12. 2. Theoretical FrameworkIn this chapter, I will draw upon theories regarding the globalization agenda and the processes ofprivatization. Additionally, I will look at the privatization of education and the effects on educationalpolicy more specifically. I wish to challenge the assumed positive effects of the privatization ofeducation on educational expansion and quality. Furthermore, I will discuss how the privatization ofeducation and the expansion of private schools affect educational opportunities. Finally, I will touchupon the concept of equity and show how the privatization of education contributes to the reproduction ofinequalities.2.1. Globalization agendaDale (1999) discusses the political aspect of the globalization agenda and states’ reactions to changingcircumstances. Individually, states’ responses to changing global realities evolve around makingthemselves more competitive (Dale 1999: 4). Collectively, states have become more concerned in settingan international framework of large international organizations, the most prominent being theInternational Monetary Fund, the OECD and the World Bank. Through this international framework,states seek to establish ‘governance without government’ (Rosenau 1992 in Dale 1999: 4). The commonideology which drives these organizations to enhance in policy changes within this set internationalframework is described by John Williamson (1993) in his ‘Washington Consensus’1. Williamsonemphasizes ten features of the ‘Washington Consensus’, including among others, public expenditurepriorities, financial and trade liberalization, foreign direct investment, deregulation and privatization.(Dale 1999: 4) Together these processes act as “the preferred ideological filters that inform the directionsin which national policy decisions are to be shaped” (Dale 1999: 4). Conversely, it is important to keep in mind the fact that “external policies are likely to bedifferently interpreted and differently acted on in different countries” (Dale 1999: 5).2.2. Processes of privatizationAmong the features of the ‘Washington Consensus’ described by Williamson (1993) is privatization.Therefore, processes of privatization are part of the globalization agenda. Moreover, Dale (1999)discusses the variety of mechanisms which influence national policies and through which the effects ofglobalization are delivered. One of these mechanisms is privatization.1 Williamson, J. (1993) Democracy and the `Washington Consensus’, World Development, 21(8), 1329- 1336Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 12
  13. 13. It is argued that privatization takes place to make up for the lack of the public sector. Ball (2010)argues that “privatization is attractive to governments and to multi-lateral agencies as ‘solutions’ to the‘problem’ of public-sector reform (with the promise of increasing productivity, introducing innovationsand reducing costs) and is a new (and relatively safe) profit opportunity for capital (large and small)particularly at a time when other areas of business activity are in recession” (Ball 2010: 229). Furthermore, in Brazil, “privatization was considered a key element in the process ofrestructuring the economy” (IHEP 2009: 4) after the economic crisis. The government implementedseveral plans to reverse the economic crisis, including fiscal adjustment, control of inflation,modernization of domestic industry and privatization. Privatization was successful in some sectors, suchas power companies, banks and telecommunications, but became very unpopular in Brazil. Privatizationbrought unemployment and few benefits as the people “paid more taxes and higher prices for services”(IHEP 2009: 4). Moreover, with the emergence of privatization processes, education became more and more afield for private investors who seek to make profit. These investors ‘sell’ education as a commodity,which is sensitive to competition and commercialization. Ball and Youdell (2008) explain this whensaying: “privatization tendencies are at the centre of the shift from education being seen as a public goodthat serves the whole community, to education being seen as a private good that serves the interest of theeducated individual, the employer and the economy.” (Ball & Youdell 2008: 15-6)2.2.1. Privatization of educationNow I will discuss the privatization of education more specifically. Current neoliberal policies, set withinthe context of the globalization agenda, focus on the expansion of capitalism and market-led economies,the deregulation of state power and the privatization of the public sector. Additionally, these policieshave led to the privatization in and of public education. Furthermore, the privatization of education is based on the argument that the educational systemas provided by the state is of low quality. Therefore, the ‘solution’ could be found in the privatization ofeducation. In other words, this means opening education up to the norms and values of the market, “toparental choice and competition between schools for student recruitment, and to allow new providers,including for-profit providers, to operate alongside or within the state school system” (Ball & Youdell2008: 14). Additionally, it is argued that the public sector should not be responsible for all aspects ofeducation. Four main reasons are argued here advocating for the privatization of education. Firstly, theeffectiveness and efficiency of public education is questioned. Secondly, the equity and accountability ofMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 13
  14. 14. public education is questioned, particularly affecting the poor. Thirdly, the increase of initiatives ofeducational entrepreneurs raised awareness of the significant educational improvements which could bethe result of competitive pressures. Finally, it is necessary to find alternative sources of educationalfunding in order to restrain public expenditure and reduce budget deficits and external debts.2 Furthermore, privatization interprets education as a market-oriented commodity. Privatizationunderstands education as a competitive, private good, which benefits solely the individual and stimulatescompetitive individualism. This ignores the idea of international or collective solidarity where theinvestment in education results in rates of return which benefit the whole of society and not merely theindividual. Moreover, the idea behind the privatization of education is primarily derived from the conceptof choice. Choice is then facilitated by initiatives to diversify the provision of local education throughdifferent mechanisms: “per-capita funding; the devolution of management responsibilities and budgets toschools; the provision of school ‘vouchers’ for use in public or private schools; the relaxation ofenrollment regulations; and the publication of ‘performance outcomes’ as a form of market ‘information’for parent-choosers” (Ball & Youdell 2008: 18). Finally, competition is meant to raise the standardsacross the educational system. Additionally, Ball (2005) argues that processes of privatization resulted in three major re-orientations of educational values. Firstly, privatization resulted in an increased emphasis on outcomes.Secondly, it has caused for a shift in direction towards obligations, namely obligations towards sponsors,funders and/or ‘partners’. Lastly, privatization has lead to “the cultivation/valorization of ‘new’dispositions – e.g., enterprise, competitiveness, commercialism, the skills of selling and spinning” (Ball2005: 121). To sum up, the privatization of education caused for an orientation towards “personal andinstitutional success and rewards […] over and against whatever we take ‘teacherly’, scholarly orcollegial virtues to be” (Ball 2005: 121). Furthermore, in Brazil, neoliberal policies were introduced by the World Bank and theInternational Monetary Fund after the crisis. These policies affected Brazil’s government policies andtransformed its educational system. (Hackshaw 2008) This resulted in the implementation of privatizationpolicies in higher education to increase enrollment (Pinto 2004: abstract). Moreover, “between 1995 and2005, the number of institutions in the private sector increased by 182 percent” (IHEP 2009: 4). Severalfactors influenced this expansion of private institutions in higher education. Firstly, the idea was to raisethe percentage of adolescents between the ages of 18 and 24 who attend undergraduate programmes at theuniversity from 12 to 30 percent by 2015, through the expansion of private institutions. Additionally, thegovernment implemented the Education act of 1996, which made the process of accreditation and2 http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2015/Government-Education-Changing-Role.html (Accessed24/05/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 14
  15. 15. licensing more flexible with as result the creation of 1,297 new institutions between 1998 and 2006.Moreover, “other factors contributed to the expansion of the private sector, including the stagnation ofstate investment in public universities during the 1990s, the growth of enrollment at the secondary level,and increased demand for higher education in the job market.” (IHEP 2009: 12) Conversely, theenrollment rate in higher education remains low, leading to “an overall elitization of the profile ofstudents, especially in the fields with the highest demand and in private institutions, where the presence ofAfrican-descendant or poor students is still very low” (Pinto 2004: abstract).2.3. Effects on educational policyBonal (2004) argues the following in reference to the effects of globalization on education: “the indirecteffects of globalization on education are undeniable: restrictions in public spending, changes in thestructure of qualifications and their remuneration, an increase in the demand for higher education,changes in the patterns of demand for education (particularly among the middle classes) and the searchfor quality and differences in education, etc.” (Bonal 2004: 664). In Brazil, the effects of the globalization agenda and the processes of privatization led toeducational reform in higher education. The Brazilian educational system shifted from an elite publicsystem to a more diversified system in which private higher educational institutions play a significantrole. McCowan (2007) explains that some of these private higher educational institutions cater forwealthy elites, however, “a growing number target lower-income students who are unable to enter theselective public universities” (McCowan 2007: 580). Conversely, McCowan argues that it remains to beseen whether the increase in private higher educational institutions represents a feasible solution to thepressing need to expand the higher educational system, “while at the same time maintains teaching andresearch of a high quality” (McCowan 2007: 580). Furthermore, Ribeiro (2005) argues that in Brazil, “where the degree of income concentration isscandalous, the decreasing capacity of public services surely represents another step in this profoundlydeepening inequality” (Ribeiro 2005: 3). He argues that, in the last decade, the public higher educationalsystem was mostly affected by neoliberal policies based on the ‘Washington Consensus’ (Ribeiro 2005).Moreover, McCowan (2007) states that in Brazil, under the rule of Cardoso (1995-2002) an educationalreform programme was implemented, following recommendations of the World Bank, which reducedpublic spending and increased private involvement in all areas. (McCowan 2007: 584) Additionally, “the changing economic and social environment in the 1990s put new pressures onthe Brazilian higher education system” (IHEP 2009: 7). The job market changed and the demand forquality control of undergraduate programmes increased, especially in private universities. Therefore, theMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 15
  16. 16. government adopted new approaches to assure the provision of higher quality undergraduate education atprivate institutions. From 1995 to 2002, the Ministry of Education implemented the National Evaluationof Undergraduate Programmes (ENADE), which measures the performance of the students and ranks theuniversities. Moreover, in 2003, the new administration created a new evaluation system, consisting of aninternal evaluation (a council of students, faculty and employees) and an external evaluation (expertevaluators assigned by the Federal Council of Education). (IHEP 2009: 7) Also, in Brazil, at the higher educational level, public universities are of the best quality. Publicuniversities are usually supported by the federal government, however, there are also public universitiesfunded by the state, such as in the state of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In the last twenty or thirty years,the privatization of higher education in Brazil has resulted in a strong increase in the number offaculdades, that is, “small institutions offering primarily professional degree programs and a fewundergraduate courses” (Ribeiro 2005: 3). Ribeiro argues that this is the result of a complex combinationof several closely related factors. Firstly, Ribeiro mentions the implementation of neoliberal policies,often recommended to the state by multilateral agencies, which are aimed at opening up the economicsector of education to entrepreneurs. Secondly, the public universities could not grow and accept theincreasing number of students completing secondary school due to the reduction in funds allocated to thepublic universities. Lastly, entrepreneurs become more and more aware of the extremely profitablebusiness higher education could be. (Ribeiro 2005: 3) To sum up, Brazil has been very sensitive to the globalization agenda and the processes ofprivatization, resulting in the reform of educational policies. I will now discuss the effects this has on theeducational opportunities of students.2.4. Educational opportunitiesPrivatization has several effects on the educational opportunities of students. Firstly, privatization couldlead to exclusion, because, in the context of the neoliberal paradigm, privatization forces the economy tointegrate and compete in the global chain of production and distribution. This is the ‘open’ global marketwhich “can offer opportunities for growth, but also exploitation in a marginalized position” (Andriesse etal. 2011: 6). Additionally, the value of education in general decreased due to the processes of globalizationand the mass expansion of education. This resulted in the social segmentation of children from themiddle- or higher-classes of society and children from the low-income classes. Furthermore, this resultedin the public-private segmentation of educational institutions. Moreover, Bonal (2007) argues that themiddle classes, when potentially facing the devaluation of the educational capital they have acquired,Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 16
  17. 17. search for ways to distinguish themselves on the basis of quality differences (Bonal 2007: 90). In the caseof Brazil, when students from low-income classes do not have access to public universities, they are leftwith the educational opportunity of attending a low-cost private university. That is, if these students canafford the tuition fees. This allows the students from the affluent classes of society to raise the qualitystandards of their educational capital within the public university, hereby reducing the quality of low-costprivate universities. Furthermore, this leaves no space to vindicate the public school system at primaryand secondary educational levels, because the poor usually do not have a voice to fight for the quality ofthese schools, or are not listened to. As such, inequalities are reproduced and the gap between the poorand rich becomes larger. Furthermore, the privatization of education includes the implementation of several techniques toensure performance management and accountability different than public-sector education. Thesetechniques, such as performance-related pay, are introduced from business into the public sector ofeducation to ensure the quality of education and to make the educational processes more transparent andaccountable. Conversely, these techniques and strategies can also have large effects on the way schoolsand teachers prioritize and value their educational system within a classroom. (Ball & Youdell 2008: 24)Additionally, new strategies are implemented to measure the quality of educational institutions throughstandardized testing, such as PISA. These new strategies, implemented in private schools to ensure thequality and performance, actually lead to a reorientation in priorities focusing away from high qualityeducation. Moreover, practices of commercialization or the ‘cola-isation’ of schools in the United States “areso normalized that their role in the privatization of education can go unrecognized” (Ball & Youdell 2008:38). This refers to commercial companies targeting children and young adolescent consumers at schools,promoting their products and brands. This is yet again another focus of private schools away from whatshould be the schools’ genuine goal; that is, to ensure access and provide high quality education. Finally, Ball & Youdell (2008) discuss philanthropy or ‘philantrocapitalism’ as the idea thatcharity resembles a capitalist economy in which those who award a benefit become a consumer of socialinvestment. In spite of the improvement in educational provision which could be the result of suchstrategic interventions, the flow of these educational ‘subsidies’ can serve to intensify existing inequalitiesin educational provision (Ball & Youdell 2008: 40). In Brazil, educational opportunities are unequally distributed in relation to accessing public orprivate educational institutions. At primary and secondary educational levels, private schools are of betterquality and are attended by children from the affluent classes of society. In contrary, at the highereducational level, public universities are considered more prestigious and of better quality. However,public universities are also attended by students from the high-income classes of society as these studentsMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 17
  18. 18. have a better educational background and have received a better preparation in relation to the entranceexam. Therefore, the educational system of Brazil serves the wealthy, providing students from high-income classes with access to good quality education. This leads me to discuss the concept of equity andthe reproduction of inequalities.2.5. Equity and the reproduction of inequalitiesNow I will briefly discuss the concept of equity. McCowan (2004) describes the different possibledefinitions of the concept of equity. McCowan (2004) states: The policies of the World Bank for higher education are designed to promote economic development with equity. The Bank’s report on higher education in Brazil states: Equity can mean different things, for example: (i) a reasonable degree of equality of opportunity to participate in higher education, and (ii) a reasonable and fair balance between paying the costs and obtaining the benefits from higher education (World Bank 2001: 41). A less problematic definition of equity in education is that of Brighouse (2002), namely that those “with similar levels of ability and willingness to exert effort should face similar educational prospects regardless of their social background, ethnicity or sex” (Brighouse, 2002, p.10). (McCowan 2004: 459)The discussion regarding the definition of equity is endless and I do not wish to focus on this in thisthesis. I will continue to discuss how the privatization of education affects educational opportunities andresults in the reproduction of inequalities. Firstly, Tarabini (2010) argues that the global agenda leaves out strategies used by middle-classesto differentiate themselves in order to maintain the highest value of their educational capital.Globalization, leading to the devaluation of returns to education, therefore, creates a “growingcompetition between individuals for access to the most prestigious kind of schooling and to the bestplaces in the occupational structure, thus, leading to a reinforcement of inequalities in educationalopportunities” (Brown 2003 in Tarabini 2010: 210). This results in an unequal distribution of thepossibilities to invest in education and creates unequal possibilities to retrieve the benefits that theinvestment in education promises. (Tarabini 2010: 210) Furthermore, Carnoy (1995) argues that John Ambler’s analysis of school-choice plans3 showsthat “the primary negative effect of school choice is its natural tendency to increase the educational gapbetween the privileged and the underprivileged” (Carnoy 1995: 52). Providing subsidies for privateeducation would benefit higher-income families more than others. Moreover, Carnoy (1995) discussesChile as case study and the results of the voucher plan introduced in the 1980s under Pinochet. Firstly,3 John Ambler (1994) ‘Who Benefits From Educational Choice? Some Evidence From Europe’, Journal of PolicyAnalysis and ManagementMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 18
  19. 19. total spending on education fell; secondly, “those who took advantage of the subsidized private schoolswere predominantly middle- and higher-income families” (Carnoy 1995: 52); and finally, the increase inpupil achievement predicted by the voucher plan never occurred. In conclusion, “voucher plans increaseinequality without making schools better. Even more significantly, privatization reduces the public effortto improve schooling since it relies on the free market to increase achievement, but the increase neveroccurs.” (Carnoy 1995: 52) Additionally, Bonal (2004) argues as well that processes of educational expansion involve risksof inequality: “the clearest risk was that decisions regarding priorities and the allocation of resources weremade in favour of those who had a greater capacity to voice their demands and apply pressure to ensuretheir satisfaction” (Tedesco & Lopez 2002 in Bonal 2004: 657). Moreover, he discusses socialpolarization, because “the increase in access and attention to groups previously excluded from educationtended to result in the withdrawal of the middle-classes from public education and an increase in demandin the private sector” (Bonal 2004: 657). “Decentralization has, therefore, intensified the inequalitybetween schools.” (Espinola 1997 in Bonal 2004: 663) Furthermore, Härmä (2009) discusses low-fee private (LFP) schools in India and concludes that“those with fewer socio-economic resources find it extremely difficult to access LFP schooling” (Härmä2009: 164). Moreover, “placing increased reliance on LFP schools will run the risk of further polarizingsociety with the poorest remaining poor” (Härmä 2009: 164). As Stromquist indicated, “it is not that families are poor because they have no education, it israther that they have no education because they are poor” (Stromquist 2001 in Bonal 2004: 658). In the case of Brazil, the government discourages some forms of privatization, due to the negativeperception of its policies in the 1990s. For instance, the government discourages the reduction of stateinvestment, the introduction of tuition fees in the public sector and private investments in the publicsector. Conversely, the government has encouraged the expansion and rise of the private sector, byimplementing policies which increased access to private institutions by low-income students. “However,many groups have criticized these policies because they do not foster social equality; low-income studentsattend private institutions, which have high tuition fees and low quality, while high-income studentsreceive a better education in public institutions.” (IHEP 2009: 7-8)2.6. ConclusionIn conclusion, in this theoretical framework I touched upon theories in relation to the globalization agendaand the processes of privatization. Moreover, I showed how the privatization of education is derived fromneoliberal policies and a focus on the expansion of capitalist and market-led economies. MoreMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 19
  20. 20. specifically, I looked at the privatization of education and its influence on educational policies. I brieflyexplained the arguments used to advocate for the privatization of education, but I showed the effects ofthe privatization of education on educational opportunities as well. Lastly, I discussed the concept ofequity and the contribution of the privatization of education to the reproduction of inequalities. In the next chapter I will discuss the methodological framework of this research in further detail.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 20
  21. 21. 3. Research MethodologyIn this chapter I will discuss the methodological framework of this research. Firstly, I will discuss thecentral research question and sub-questions and then I will talk about the research methodology.Additionally, I will discuss the units of analysis, the methods I used for this research, the samplingmethods and the methods of analysis. Furthermore, I will discuss the limitations and ethicalconsiderations. Finally, I will conclude this chapter.3.1. Research questionsI based my central research question on the literature and the theories I described in the theoreticalframework and on my empirical findings, which I will discuss in the following chapter. Moreover, theaccess to good quality education, that is, private schools at primary and secondary educational levels andpublic universities at the higher educational level, is a severe problem in the case of Brazil, particularlyfor those from low- to middle-income classes. Therefore, my central research question is: What are theeducational opportunities of students from low- to middle-income classes in relation to highereducation in the state of São Paulo, Brazil? Furthermore, to answer this research question, my sub-questions are as follows: 1. Which real educational opportunities do students from low- to middle-income classes have in reference to attending university? 2. Which social and economic factors influence the access of students from low- to middle-income classes to public higher educational institutions? 3. Under which conditions does the educational experience of students at low-cost private universities take place? 4. What is the quality of the low-cost private universities and what perceptions do the students have of their educational experience and the quality? 5. What are the expectations of the students at low-cost private universities in reference to their further educational and professional opportunities?3.2. MethodologyFor this research I made use of the mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative and participatorymethods. As qualitative method I made use of semi-structured in-depth interviews and as participatorymethods I made use of participant observation and participatory research activities. I will discuss theseMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 21
  22. 22. methods later on in this chapter. The idea behind using different methods for the research, in other words,the idea behind triangulation, is that “if the same conclusion is reached from each of the approaches,greater confidence exists that conclusion is valid” (Sumner & Tribe 2008: 108-9). This is needed tocheck the credibility of the data collected, that is, the extent to which the data collected is believable orconsidered true. Additionally, the use of these different methods helps to ensure other quality criteria ininternational development studies, such as the dependability of the data collected, that is, that the datacollected is consistent and repeatable. Furthermore, this is to check the transferability, that is, if thefindings are applicable in other contexts. Lastly, auditability entails a transparent description of all stepstaken from the start of the research to the development and reporting of findings.Now I will discuss the ontology and epistemology behind the research. Firstly, ontology is the nature ofreality itself, whereas epistemology is the nature of knowledge itself (Sumner & Tribe 2008: 55).Moreover, “ontology is best described as a theory or set of assumptions concerning what ‘exists’ and thuswhat is and what is ‘knowable’?” (Summer & Tribe 2008: 55). This research was done from theontological perspective of constructivism, which “describes the individual human subject engaging withobjects in the world and making sense of them” (Crotty 1998: 79). Furthermore, Crotty (1998) describes constructivism as meaning which is constructed by minds;there is no objective and only truth to be discovered, but, “truth, or meaning, comes into existence in andout of our engagement with the realities in our world” (Crotty 1998: 8). As such, different peopleconstruct meaning in different ways, even in relation to the same phenomena. In this view, Crotty argues,“subject and object emerge as partners in the generation of meaning” (Crotty 1998: 9). In reference to this research, a constructivist ontology attempts to explain how different socialactors, or the different students, construct different meanings of a phenomenon. In this case, thephenomenon could be the access to higher education, which is part of reality. Secondly, epistemology is thus the nature of knowledge itself. Moreover, it is defined as “a set ofassumptions concerning how we can ‘know’ that which ‘exists’” (Sumner & Tribe 2008: 55). Theepistemological background of this fieldwork can be described as realist, meaning that “there is aphysical reality which exists independently of our cognition but that we cannot appraise it – we can onlydescribe it due to the fact that we are dependent observers – and we are not independent of events. Thusknowledge is a social construct, but one which aims to explain a physical reality” (Molteberg &Bergstrom 2000 in Sumner & Tribe 2008: 63). In the epistemological assumption of realism, reality is that “which exists independently of theresearcher and which can be described” (Sumner & Tribe 2008: 59). The aim of conducting research is todescribe this reality, because there is not solely one objective truth about reality. Additionally, “theMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 22
  23. 23. researcher and their thoughts are part of reality; the researcher is a dependent observer” (Sumner & Tribe2008: 59). As the researcher and his or her thoughts are part of reality, one is automatically subjective,however transparent about this. In relation to the research, as researcher, I aimed to describe a reality, of which I form part. Thereality could be the rapid expansion of low-cost private universities and the inequalities present in theeducational system. Moreover, I aimed to describe this reality and the different meanings of its effect oneducational opportunities, as constructed by the different actors or students.3.3. Units of analysisThis research predominantly aims to understand the educational opportunities, experience and perceptionsof students attending low-cost private universities. Therefore, there is one main unit of analysis, namelythe low-cost private universities. Moreover, of the different low-cost private universities present in SãoPaulo, Brazil, I chose to focus my research on the following universities: Unisant’anna, Uninove(Universidade Nove de Julho), Unip (Universidade Paulista), in the municipality of São Paulo andRibeirão Preto), and Anhanguera (which now has become Universidade Bandeirante de São Paulo orUniban). Furthermore, I attended three public secondary schools, governed by the state of São Paulo, tobetter understand the quality of public education at the secondary educational level and the perceptions ofthe pupils in relation to attending university. Therefore, the second unit of analysis is the publicsecondary schools I visited in São Paulo. The schools I attended are E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin, E.E.Augusto Meirelles Reis Filho and E.E. Casimiro de Abreu.3.4. MethodsFor this research I made use of a mixed-methods approach as I discussed above. I combined qualitativeand participatory methods during my research. Firstly, I will discuss the qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews. Secondly, I will go into more detail concerning the participatory methods I used.Semi-structured in-depth interviewsFor this research, I conducted 22 semi-structured in-depth interviews with students attending the differentlow-cost private universities. The interviews were semi-structured, because I made an interview guidewith the set of questions I wanted to ask the respondent and highlighted those which were important toinclude in the interview. Conversely, I wanted the respondent to have the space to talk freely when he orMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 23
  24. 24. she wanted to. The interviews were meant to act as life stories or histories, sketching the social andeconomic background of the respondent and the path he or she has taken in relation to education.Furthermore, the majority of the interviews took between one hour and one hour and ten minutes. Otherinterviews took between 40 minutes and one hour. In total, I conducted four interviews with students from Uninove. Additionally, I conducted nineinterviews with students from Unisant’anna and one interview with a student from Anhanguera.Furthermore, I conducted two interviews with students from Unip in São Paulo and another six interviewswith students from Unip in Ribeirão Preto. Moreover, I conducted three interviews with professors fromthe universities Anhanguera, Uninove and Unisant’anna, but eventually I did not use these data for theresearch. I did not find the data very relevant, as this research is focused on the perceptions, experienceand educational opportunities of the students. Furthermore, it is important to point out that the interviews were done in Portuguese. A translatoraccompanied me to the first ten interviews and translated the questions from English to Portuguese andthe answers from the respondents from Portuguese to English. I conducted the other six interviews in thecity of São Paulo alone. Moreover, during five of the six interviews I conducted in Ribeirão Preto,Renata Brancaleoni helped me with the translations.Participatory research methodsI also visited three public secondary schools during my time in São Paulo to get a better understanding ofthe quality of public education at the secondary educational level and the lack of preparation for thevestibular of a university. Furthermore, I wanted to get a better impression regarding the educationalopportunities and perceptions of the pupils in relation to higher education. I visited the public secondaryschool E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin twice. The other two schools, E.E. Augusto Meirelles Reis Filho andE.E. Casimiro de Abreu, I visited only once.First visit to Dulce Ferreira BoarinMy first visit to E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin was not planned. I had interviewed a student at Uninove,Guilherme, and he told me that he was currently teaching at different public schools. He was about to goto this school to teach and asked me if I wanted to come along and so I did. At the school, I used theopportunity to interview several of the pupils. In total, there were approximately twelve children in theclassroom. Additionally, I observed as Guilherme asked the children questions and engaged the pupils ina discussion with each other regarding the quality of public education at the secondary educational leveland the opportunity to attend higher education.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 24
  25. 25. Participatory methodsAfter my first visit to E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin, Guilherme invited me to visit two other public schoolsas well, namely E.E. Augusto Meirelles Reis Filho and E.E. Casimiro de Abreu. Here I organized aparticipatory activity to engage the children in the research. However, as I arrived to the schools Irealized that the children were older than I expected. Therefore, instead of the activity I had prepared, Iasked the children to write down what they think of the quality of their school. Moreover, I asked them towrite down how they see themselves in the next five years; what would they be doing and what would beimportant for them in the next five years? I quoted several of the writings of the children in the first data-analysis chapter. Furthermore, after I had visited the two schools, I returned to E.E. Dulce Ferreira Boarin onemore time. This time I had prepared the participatory activity and I hoped I would be able to do theactivity with these children. The children of this class are a few years younger than the children from theother two schools. Therefore, I was able to do the activity very well. Firstly, I asked the children to writedown five things which are the most important for them in the following five years. Then I divided theclass into groups of three to five pupils. I asked them to compare what they had written down and make atop five of most important things per group. Afterwards I asked each group to share their five mostimportant things with the rest of the class. I stuck the post-its of each group on the classroom board andgrouped the ones that were similar. Each group explained to the others why these particular things areimportant and why one thing is more important than the other. Finally, we ended the activity in a groupdiscussion. The purpose of this activity was to find out whether the pupils would find education or goingto university as important factors. Moreover, I wanted to find out how important this may be to thechildren. I will discuss the findings of this activity in chapter five. In conclusion, the data I collected by visiting the different public schools complemented theinterviews in such a way that it gave me a better understanding of the quality of public education atprimary and secondary educational levels. Moreover, I became more aware of the real educationalopportunities children from low- to middle-income classes have in relation to receiving good qualityeducation. Furthermore, it made me realize that the students I interviewed, who are currently attendingthe low-cost private universities, are most probable not a real representation of students from low- tomiddle-income classes. I believe that the sample of students I interviewed is very determined and has astrong will to continue studying. Unfortunately, I do not think that most students from low- to middle-income classes actually have the educational opportunity of even attending the low-cost privateuniversities.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 25
  26. 26. Participant observationAt the beginning of my stay in São Paulo I attended a meeting on the public-private relations in educationat Unicamp (Universidade Estadual de Campinas), the University of Campinas, in the state of São Paulo.Unicamp is a public university, provided and maintained by the state of São Paulo. The meeting wascalled: ‘Relações público e privado na educação: embates e desdobramentos para a democratização daeducação’. Here Toni Verger spoke about public-private partnerships. I used this meeting as anopportunity to talk to the different professors present about the higher educational system and the public-private divide. Furthermore, it was an opportunity for me to make contacts to help me find furtherrespondents.Sampling methodsFor the interviews, I used non-random or non-probability sampling to find the respondents. Morespecifically, I made use of the snowball method. My supervisor provided me with the name of CamillaCroso from the Global Campaign for Education in São Paulo. She then provided me with the names oftwo professors from the public university USP. These professors were then able to help me get intocontact with three other professors from the different low-cost private universities. These professors werealso the professors I interviewed. They then helped me reach most of the students I interviewed.Moreover, I was able to reach other students through the students I had already interviewed.Methods of analysisI used the scientific programme Atlas.ti to analyze the data I collected through the interviews and theparticipatory methods. I coded the transcribed and translated interviews in Atlas.ti and made a table inExcel as an overview of the most important characteristics of the respondents. Moreover, I used quotesfrom the interviews to support my interpretation of the data in the data-analysis chapters (chapters fiveand six).Dimensions of analysisIn this analysis, I focused on several dimensions of education, relevant to the inequality of educationalopportunity in the case of Brazil. As derived from the research of Ribeiro (2011), there are several factorswhich have a significant influence on the students’ possibility to have access to good quality educationand to progress in education. These factors play a key role in the reproduction of educational inequalities.Firstly, Ribeiro discusses the factor of parental resources (Ribeiro 2011: 41). Additionally, he discussesthe institutional characteristics of the educational system, which promote inequalities by its own design(Ribeiro 2011: 44). Thirdly, he discusses the stratification of the Brazilian educational system betweenMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 26
  27. 27. school types, which differ in quality, as an important factor in determining the inequality of opportunities.He states that students who attended private primary and secondary education have higher chances ofprogressing in the system than those who attend public schools (Ribeiro 2011: 78). Based on theseanalytical categories, I formulated my research questions and decided on which factors to focus whenresearching the educational opportunities of low-income students in higher education in Brazil.3.5. Limitations and ethicsIn this sub-chapter I will discuss the challenges I encountered during my research. Additionally, I willbriefly discuss some ethical considerations.LimitationsI encountered several challenges and limitations during my research. Firstly, I did not speak the locallanguage which made the communication with the respondents more difficult. Initially I wasaccompanied to the interviews by a translator who translated the questions and answers for me, whichworked out quite well. Conversely, I was afraid to lose valuable information in the translations.Afterwards, I did several interviews myself as I become more confident with the Portuguese. This wentwell, but there were moments in which I did not fully understand what the respondent was saying. Secondly, the city of São Paulo was a personal challenge for me. As São Paulo is a very largemetropolitan city, I did not find it easy to travel to and from the interviews. Moreover, I visited theschools during the evenings and most of the interviews took place at night as well. I did not experienceSão Paulo as a safe city to travel great distances alone and after dark.EthicsSpecial attention should be given to ethical considerations. With all the interviews I conducted, Icarefully explained the purpose of my research and the reasons for my stay in São Paulo. I promised therespondents confidentiality and anonymity. Obviously, the respondent did not have to answer a questionif he or she did not want to. Moreover, I was open to answering any questions from their side. I alsopromised the respondents that I would e-mail them my thesis when I have completed it. Furthermore, I always planned to meet the respondents for the interviews at a time and placeconvenient for the respondents. I was careful not to be suggestive in my questions and as objective aspossible during the interview. I aimed to be as transparent and honest about the research as possible.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 27
  28. 28. 3.6. ConclusionIn conclusion, this research was carried out using a mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative andparticipatory research methods. For this research I conducted 22 semi-structured, in-depth interviewswith the students of the following different low-cost private universities: Unisant’anna, Uninove(Universidade Nove de Julho), Unip (Universidade Paulista, in the municipality of São Paulo andRibeirão Preto) and Anhanguera (which now has become Universidade Bandeirante de São Paulo orUniban). Moreover, I made use of participant observation and I engaged the children of different publicsecondary schools in a participatory activity. Furthermore, the schools I visited are E.E. Dulce FerreiraBoarin, E.E. Augusto Meirelles Reis Filho and E.E. Casimiro de Abreu. Therefore, the units of analysisfor this research are the low-cost private universities and the public secondary schools I visited. Inchapter five and six I will present and discuss the data I collected in São Paulo. Moreover, I will answermy research questions. Now I will discuss the context of the research location and my empirical findings.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 28
  29. 29. 4. Context: Introducing São Paulo, BrazilIn this chapter I will discuss the context of Brazil, São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto. I will briefly discuss thesocio-economic characteristics and then I will focus predominantly on the Brazilian educational system.Additionally, I will discuss my personal observations and empirical findings in reference to the Brazilianeducational system.4.1. Socio-economic backgroundBrazil, officially referred to as the Federative Republic of Brazil, was a colony of Portugal until 1815.Brazil is the largest country in South-America and it is the world’s fifth largest country, both bygeographical area and by population. Brazil has a population of 196.655 million people as of 20114. It isalso the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas. Brazil is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and bordered on the north by Venezuela,Guyana, Suriname and the French overseas region of French Guiana. It is bordered by Colombia on thenorthwest, by Bolivia and Peru on the west, by Argentina and Paraguay on the southwest and by Uruguayon the south. On page 32 you will find a map of Brazil and Latin America (figure 1). Additionally, the Brazilian economy is the world’s seventh largest with a GDP of $2.4 in trillionsof US Dollars as of 2012, according to the IMF, World Economic Outlook.5 Moreover, the minimumsalary of Brazil today is R$6226 per month, which is an equivalent of USD$298.11 and €226.56. Furthermore, the Brazilian middle class has increased significantly in the last ten to twenty years,according to a study conducted by the Brazilian Secretariat of Strategic Affairs. In fact, “Brazil’sgrowing middle class is as diverse as Brazil itself, currently accounting for 52 percent of the totalpopulation of the country, with per capita income ranging from R$291.00 to R$1,019.00 per month.”(Brazilian government 20127) The Brazilian Secretariat of Strategic Affairs states that the increasedparticipation of the middle class is a key factor in the growth and development of Brazil. Moreover, 35%of the current Brazilian middle class has entered the middle class in the past ten years. Additionally, 28%of the population belongs to the lower class, with a monthly household income per capita below4 World Bank, last updated October 31 2012, Source:https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:BRA&dl=en&hl=en&q=population%20brazil (Accessed 29/12/2012)5 Source: http://www.blatantworld.com/feature/the_world/most_populous_metropolitan_areas.html (Accessed29/12/2012)6 Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/BZMW:IND (Accessed 16/12/2012)7 Source: http://www.brasil.gov.br/para/press/press-releases/november-1/brazilian-middle-class-reaches-52-of-total-population/br_model1?set_language=en (Accessed 31/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 29
  30. 30. R$291.00, and 20% belongs to the upper class. Conversely, “if the same cut-off points per class (R$291.00 to R$1,019.00) are applied to households worldwide, only 18% of the population is in the upperclass, while 54% is in the lower class.” (Brazilian government 2012) Moreover, “Brazil is a racially mixed country in which the majority of people have ancestors inmore than one of the three main groups: white Europeans (mostly Portuguese); black Africans (mainlyfrom the west of the continent); and the original indigenous Indian population.” (Embassy of Brazil inLondon) In the first half of the 20th century, as a consequence of war and economic pressures, largegroups of immigrants came to Brazil from various parts of Europe.São PauloFurthermore, São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and thelargest city in South-America. Moreover, it is the world’s ninth largest city by population.8 The city ofSão Paulo has a population of 19.96 million people.9 It is ranked the second most populous metropolitanarea in the Americas and is among the six largest metropolitan areas in the world.10 São Paulo is thecapital of the state São Paulo and it is popularly referred to as Sampa. The following Table 1 includesinformation regarding the population, area and population density of the state and city of São Paulo.Indicators São Paulo state11 São Paulo city12Population 2010 41.262.199 11.253.503Area (km²) 248.222,801 1.521,101Population density (inhab/km²) 166,25 7.387,69Number of municipalities 645 -Table 1: Indicators regarding the population, area and population density of the state and city of São Paulo8 Source: http://americanlivewire.com/top-10-largest-cities-in-the-world-2013/ (Accessed 29/12/2012)9 Source: http://www.indexmundi.com/brazil/major_cities_population.html (Accessed 29/12/2012)10 Source: http://www.blatantworld.com/feature/the_world/most_populous_metropolitan_areas.html (Accessed29/12/2012)11 Source: http://ibge.gov.br/estadosat/perfil.php?sigla=sp (Accessed 03/12/2012)12 Source: http://www.ibge.gov.br/cidadesat/link.php?uf=sp (Accessed 03/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 30
  31. 31. Figure 1: Map of Latin America and the Caribbean1313 United Nations, Department of Field Support Cartographic Section (May 2010), Source:http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/eclac.pdf (Accessed 28/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 31
  32. 32. Additionally, Brazil is ranked 85 in the Human Development Index14 (HDI) according to the UnitedNations Development Programme. Moreover, in relation to education, the mean years of schooling ofadults is 7.2 years. It is important to point out here that the inequality-adjusted HDI value is 0.519,whereas the loss due to inequality in education is 25.7%. Moreover, the inequality-adjusted educationindex is 0.492. The Figure 2 below shows how inequality affects the HDI achievement of Brazil.Figure 2: The inequality-adjusted HDI of Brazil in 201115Ribeirão PretoRibeirão Preto is a relatively small city in comparison to the city of São Paulo. Moreover, it is located tothe northwest of the city of São Paulo. Below you will find a map of São Paulo state showing thelocation of both cities (figure 3). Moreover, Ribeirão Preto has a population of 604.682 (in 2010), an areaof 650,955 km² and a demographic density of 928,46 inhabitants/km².1614 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2011) Brazil, Country Profile: International HumanDevelopment Indicators: http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/BRA.html (Accessed 02/06/2012)15 Source: http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/ihdi/ (Accessed 12/12/2012)16 Source: http://www.ibge.gov.br/cidadesat/link.php?uf=sp (Accessed 28/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 32
  33. 33. Figure 3: Map of São Paulo state, showing the capital São Paulo city and Ribeirão Preto (underlined)174.2. Educational policy in BrazilNow I will discuss the educational policy in Brazil. In the next sub-chapter I will discuss the Brazilianeducational system. Firstly, in 1988 the Federal Constitution of Brazil was established, which states that the(financial) responsibility for education is to be divided and shared among the three government levels,namely, federal, state and municipal. I will discuss this in further detail in the next sub-chapter.17 Source: http://www.v-brazil.com/tourism/sao-paulo/map-sao-paulo.html (Accessed 28/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 33
  34. 34. Additionally, “fixed amounts of tax revenue are earmarked for education and constitute the educationfund” (UNESCO 2006: 14). The new Brazilian Constitution stated that “all States, Municipalities and theFederal Government had to spend a fixed share of their tax and transfer revenues in their public educationsystem” (Menezes-Filho & Pazello 2007: 661). Moreover, the Constitution mandated that 25% of stateand municipal income and 18% of federal government income are to be spent on education. (JBIC SectorStudy Series 2004; UNESCO 2006; Menezes-Filho & Pazello 2007) Furthermore, in 1998, in Brazil, a reform was implemented in the funding of the public educationat the primary educational level. This educational reform was FUNDEF (Fundo para Manutenção eDesenvolvimento do Ensino Fundamental e Valorização do Magistéerio), translated as the Fund forMaintenance and Development of the Fundamental Education and Valorization of Teaching. Moreover,the main aim of FUNDEF was to “redistribute resources from the richer to the poorer regions and toincrease public teachers’ wages.” (Menezes-Filho & Pazello 2007: 2) In this period both teacher salariesand the enrollment rates in primary education increased. Additionally, in 2006 FUNDEF expired and in 2007 FUNDEB was implemented. FUNDEB isFundo de Manutenção e Desenvolvimento da Educação Básica e de Valorização de Professionais deEducação, translated as the Fund for the Maintenance and Development of Basic Education andEnhancement of Educational Professionals. FUNDEB focuses on all basic education, from kindergartento secondary school. Moreover, the programme is intended to run until 2020. FUNDEB has as mainobjective to promote the redistribution of resources related to education across the country. Moreover,FUNDEB aims to redistribute the resources while taking the social and economic development of thedifferent regions into consideration. (MEC – Ministério da Educação) Furthermore, Brazil offers conditional cash transfers (CCT) to students. In the 1990s localconditional cash transfers were implemented and were experienced as successful. Afterwards, “the issuegained momentum in Congress and several other bills were presented to introduce cash transfersnationally, always linked to educational conditionalities” (Britto 2011). Under the rule of PresidentCardoso in 1997, the federal government started to co-fund the local initiatives. “That arrangement wasreformulated in 2001 and led to Bolsa Escola, the biggest CCT among Bolsa Familia’s predecessors.”(Britto 2011) Moreover, “by late 2003, Bolsa Escola had been implemented in almost all of Brazil’s 5,561municipalities, providing nearly US$500 million in total stipends paid to over 8.6 million children from5.06 million families.” (World Bank 2005: 1) In October of 2003 under the rule of President Lula daSilva, Bolsa Escola merged with three other conditional cash transfer programmes to form the BolsaFamilia. Bolsa Familia provides financial aid to poor Brazilian families under the condition that thechildren of the families attend school and are vaccinated. The educational programme aims to reduceMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 34
  35. 35. short-term poverty by direct cash transfers and fight long-term poverty by increasing human capitalamong the poor through conditional cash transfers. In addition to the conditional cash transfer Bolsa Familia, there are several other educationalprogrammes which offer scholarships to students who go to university. Moreover, FIES is an educationalprogramme which offers loans to the students. I will discuss these other educational programmes in thenext sub-chapter. Now I will go into more detail regarding the Brazilian educational system.4.3 Sistema educacional BrasileiroI will briefly discuss the public educational system, as provided by the nation, state or municipality.Moreover, I will discuss the educational structure at primary, secondary and higher educational levels.Additionally, I will look at the public-private divide. I will discuss the access to universities, focusing onthe National Examination of Secondary Education and the vestibular or entrance exam. Finally, I willdiscuss the FIES and ProUni as educational programmes which aim to increase the enrollment of poorstudents in private higher educational institutions.Public educational systemIn Brazil, public education is provided by the nation, the state or the municipality. There are thus threetypes of public education. In general, public education at primary and secondary educational levels asprovided by the municipality is considered of better quality than public education provided andmaintained by the state. Obviously, this differs per state and municipality as well. Moreover, in general,public education at primary and secondary educational levels is of very poor quality. At the higher educational level, Universidade de São Paulo, Unesp and Unicamp are examples ofuniversities provided by the state of São Paulo. Moreover, the federal university Unifesp is also locatedin the state of São Paulo. As stated in the Constitution, the states and municipalities are responsible for basic education.Furthermore, “a historical feature of Brazilian basic education is its extremely decentralized nature, whichgives organizational autonomy to sub-national governments (27 states and 5,546 municipalities) inorganizing their educational systems” (JBIC Sector Study Series 2004: 7). The municipalities areresponsible for early childhood education (including kindergarten and pre-school education), while thestates and municipalities share responsibility for primary education. Secondary schools are theresponsibility of the states. Moreover, “maintenance of the system, including salaries, the definition ofteacher career structures and supervision of early childhood, primary and secondary levels (which makeup basic education) is decentralized, and these levels are responsible for defining their respectiveMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 35
  36. 36. curriculum content” (JBIC Sector Study Series 2004: 7). Below I have placed a figure showing theBrazilian educational system and regulation.Figure 4: The Brazilian educational system and regulation (JBIC Sector Study Series 2004: 8)Educational structureChildren are expected to start primary school (ensino fundamental) at the age of seven. Moreover, this ismandatory for all children. Primary school consists of eight years or series, which are divided into twograus. The first four years of primary school are referred to as the first grau and the last four years ofprimary school are referred to as the second grau. Sometimes, the first grau is also referred to as ensinofundamental um (1) and the second grau as ensino fundamental dois (2). After primary school, children go to secondary school, usually at the age of 15. Secondary schoolmostly consists of three years, but is not mandatory.Public vs. private universitiesAt the higher educational level, public universities, which are offered by the state or by the nation, areconsidered the most prestigious and of the best quality. In addition to public universities, students canattend private universities. Among the private universities, there is a distinction between the moretraditional private universities, which have higher tuition fees as well, and the low-cost privateuniversities. Examples of traditional private universities in the state of São Paulo are PontificiaMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 36
  37. 37. Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP) and Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Mackenzie).The structure of the traditional private universities is similar to the structure of public universities.Therefore, the quality of traditional private universities is comparable to the quality of public universities.Moreover, Centro Universitário Sant’anna (Unisant’anna), Universidade Nove de Julho (Uninove),Universidade Paulista (Unip) and Centro Universitário Anhanguera de São Paulo (Anhanguera) areexamples of low-cost private universities. In general, low-cost private universities offer poor qualityeducation.Higher educational structureIn Brazil, an undergraduate programme would most likely be compared to the Brazilian bacharelado.The bacharelado courses usually take about four years to complete. In addition to the bacharelado,Brazilian universities offer licenciaturas, which usually only take up to three years to complete. Thelicenciatura predominantly focuses on preparing the students to teach, with a strong emphasis onpedagogy, whereas the bacharelado teaches the students the technical area of the course. Furthermore, in reference to graduate programmes, Brazilian universities offer a pós-graduaçãoprogramme. The pós-graduação could be two things as well; it could be a specialization (especializaçãoor lato sensu) or a master’s programme (mestrado or strict lensu). The mestrado has a stronger academicand scientific emphasis and focuses mainly on research. A mestrado could therefore be followed by aPhD programme (doutorado).Access to higher educationAll higher educational institutions are obliged by law to have an entrance exam, which is called thevestibular. The vestibular of most public universities consists of two phases, of which the second phaseis the most difficult. In general, students who are capable of passing this very difficult entrance examhave attended good quality private schools. Conversely, the vestibular of low-cost private universities isknown to be relatively easy. The vestibular of low-cost private universities serves more as a protocol;therefore, the low-cost private universities are more accessible for students who have not received goodquality private education.The vestibularAs I have mentioned above, the vestibular is the entrance exam of a higher educational institution.Moreover, in relation to the vestibular of a public university, the possibility of a student to pass thevestibular is influenced by the specific group of students who are doing the entrance exam in thatmoment. The vestibular has a nota de corte, which is translated as a cutoff score. In other words, theMichal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 37
  38. 38. student who scores the highest on one particular entrance exam sets the tone for the rest of the studentswho are participating in this particular exam. There is thus not a fixed minimum score required to passthe exam; the minimum score depends on the highest score and the amount of vacancies. There are forinstance twenty vacancies available for one higher educational course at a particular university. Thetwenty students who score the highest will pass the entrance exam. Therefore, sometimes, it can be moredifficult to enter a certain university one year and less difficult the next year. Additionally, the possibilityof a student to pass the vestibular also depends on the popularity of a higher educational course and theamount of vacancies it has. Moreover, the vestibular takes place only once a year.ENEM examThe ENEM exam is the Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio, or the National Examination of SecondaryEducation. It is the national exam taken by each student in their last year of secondary school. Moreover,it is obligatory. The score of the ENEM exam influences the score of the entrance exam of a highereducational institution. In the case of the vestibular of a public university, the score of the ENEM examcounts as 10% of the score of the vestibular. In the case of low-cost private universities, the score of theENEM exam, when high enough, can even exempt the student from the vestibular of the low-cost privateuniversities. Additionally, the score of the ENEM exam influences the possibility of the student to obtaina scholarship of 100% or 50%, in the case of ProUni. Again, this depends heavily on the university, thecourse and the amount of vacancies as well. Finally, how higher the student’s score of the ENEM exam,the more chance he or she has in obtaining a scholarship covering 100% of the tuition fees. For example,a certain score of the ENEM exam can provide a student with a scholarship of 100% for geography atUnisant’anna, whereas the same score can only provide the student with a scholarship of 50% forbusiness administration at Unip. Therefore, the possibility of obtaining a scholarship also depends on thepopularity of the course.The universitiesThe public university Universidade de São Paulo (USP) is the largest and most prestigious university inBrazil and it is the number one university in the whole of South-America.18 Moreover, USP was foundedin 1934. Additionally, two of the traditional private universities in the state of São Paulo are PontificiaUniversidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP) and Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Mackenzie).PUC-SP is a Catholic non-profit university and it has an ethos similar to that of the public universities18 http://www.usnews.com/education/worlds-best-universities-rankings/best-universities-in-latin-america (Accessed05/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 38
  39. 39. (McCowan 2007: 584). Moreover, PUC has a total enrollment of 30,000 to 34,999 and a total staff of3,500 to 3,999. Additionally, the tuition fees are approximately 15,000 to 20,000 BRL per year, which isequal to €5,553 to €7,404 or $7,324 to $9,765.19 Additionally, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenziewas founded in 1952. Mackenzie is a non-profit traditional private university of much prestige in Braziland has an educational structure similar to the public universities. Furthermore, in addition to these traditional private universities, “a new group of profit-making(or highly commercialized non-profit) institutions has emerged, with a very different orientation fromboth public and traditional private institutions” (McCowan 2007: 584-5). These universities are primarilyteaching institutions, with little focus on research and a strong emphasis on “rapid expansion and costefficiency, employing aggressive marketing strategies in response to increasing competition” (McCowan2007: 584-5). Universidade Paulista is one of the larger institutions and runs on a franchise basis.Moreover, Universidade Paulista is very concerned with operating visibility strategies, positioningcampuses in prominent locations. (McCowan 2007: 584-5) Other low-cost private universities in SãoPaulo are Uninove, Unisant’anna and Anhanguera.FIESAnother attempt to allow students to attend private universities without paying the full tuition fees isFIES, the Student Financing Programme or Programa de Financiamento Estudantil. FIES was initiatedin 1999 and provides students with a loan of 70% of the fees. This amount is paid directly to theinstitution rather than to the student. Moreover, the interest charged is low by Brazilian standards and therepayment begins in the first year after graduation. (McCowan 2007: 587) However, students from low-to middle-income classes “may be unwilling to take on such large debt even at low rates of interest”(McCowan 2007: 588). Additionally, the remaining 30% of the tuition fees to be paid by the studenthimself can still be a too heavy burden.ProUniProUni is the University for All Programme or the Programa Universidade para Todos. ProUni is arather new educational programme, implemented in 2004 under the rule of President Lula da Silva. “Theidea of ProUni is to encourage these universities [private institutions] to allocate their unfilled places freeof charge to low-income students, in return for exemption from tax payments.” (McCowan 2007: 589) Inreality, the unfilled places at private institutions are not allocated completely free of charge to low-incomestudents. This depends on the household income per capita of the student and partly on his or her scoreon the ENEM examination as well. Students from families whose household income per capita is not19 www.4icu.org/reviews/344.shtm (Accessed 16/12/2012)Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 39
  40. 40. more than three times the minimum wage can receive the ProUni scholarship which covers up to 50% ofthe tuition fees. Students from families whose household income per capita is not more than 1.5 times theminimum wage can be allocated a vacancy at a private institution free of charge, thus with a scholarshipcovering 100% of the tuition fees. Moreover, “non-profit institutions have to dedicate 20% of their placesin this way in order to maintain their existing status of exemption from taxes. Profit-making institutionshave the option to allocate 10% of their places in order to obtain exemption from some taxes.” (McCowan2007: 589) To sum up, initiatives such as ProUni and FIES do allow for a greater enrollment of studentsin private institutions, but these initiatives do not contribute to an equitable expansion or will not ensureequitable access to higher educational institutions.Ministry of EducationThe Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) evaluates and regulates the educational system of Brazil. Forundergraduate programmes, the quality is evaluated on the basis of the national exam, the ENADE. Forgraduate programmes, the evaluation is facilitated by the CAPES Foundation, which grades the universitycourses from one to five.4.4. Accessibility to higher educationNow I will briefly discuss the accessibility to higher education in Brazil. I will discuss the findings of theWorld Bank Policy Research Paper of 2008 on the Accessibility and Affordability of Tertiary Educationin Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru within a Global Context. Firstly, the World Bank Paper shows the participation rates in tertiary education as percentage ofthe four year age-group with the highest average participation rate. For Brazil, the four year age-groupwith the highest average participation rate in higher education is 20-23 years old. Conversely, “thelimitation of this indicator is that the highest four year participation rate does not reflect the participationof other age groups into tertiary education” (World Bank 2008: 22). For Brazil, the participation rate is12.5%. In comparison, the participation rate as percentage of the four year age-group with the highestaverage participation rate is 29.6% in the Netherlands and 20.3% in the United States. (World Bank 2008:22) Additionally, “the Education Equity Index (EEI) seeks to measure the socio-economic status(SES) of students with access to tertiary education” (World Bank 2008: 24). The indicators used tomeasure the EEI are the ratio of the percentage of university students whose fathers’ have a tertiaryeducation degree, which measures the SES of the student population, and the percentage of men aged 45-Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 40
  41. 41. 64 who have a tertiary education degree, which measures the SES of the general population. Moreover, alower EEI indicates less equal access to tertiary education. Figure 5 shows the EEI.Figure 5: Education Equity Index (World Bank 2008: 24) Furthermore, the World Bank paper discusses the education attainment rate, which measures “apercentage of population that attains a particular educational level” (World Bank 2008: 8). The ratio iscalculated between the people aged from 25 to 34 years who completed a tertiary education degree inrelation to the total population in the same age range. For Brazil, the education attainment is 8,5%,compared to 25,0% in the Netherlands (World Bank 2008: 40). Figure 6 shows the education attainmentrates.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 41
  42. 42. Figure 6: Education Attainment Rates in percentages (World Bank 2008: 23) Furthermore, the paper shows how the different indicators of accessibility provide differentinsights as to which countries are “high access” countries. (World Bank 2008: 25) The Figure 7 shows theoverall accessibility, combining the different access indicators, namely the participation rates, genderparity, the Education Equity Index and the educational attainment rate. This figure suggests that theoverall accessibility of tertiary education in Brazil is relatively low compared to high-income countries.Michal Ragowan Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Higher Education Page 42

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