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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


ROBERT E. VERHINE, Faculdade de Educação, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
THOMAS J. LA BELLE, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh

THE QUANTITY AND DIVERSITY of the literature on Brazilian education remains impressive, but quality remains uneven. Thought and opinion papers are more prevalent than investigative analysis. Research tends to be qualitative and/or historical, and Gramsci's neo-Marxist thinking continues as the dominant theoretical influence. Much scholarship is still restricted to a small group of well-known authors (e.g. Freire, Freitag, Cunha), although published theses by recent doctoral students are becoming more common.

A recent analysis by Gatti (item bi 88003174) of some 500 studies of Brazilian education finds that certain topics, such as special education, secondary schooling, and educational administration and planning, have not received due attention. She also points to serious problems in working conditions at Brazilian universities which have jeopardized the flow of scholarship. Brazilian higher education is dealt with in highly critical fashion from different ideological perspectives by Giannotti (item bi 90014568) and Coelho (item bi 90014543). More systematic assessments of projects within the university are provided by Oliveira (item bi 88002193) and Andrade, et al. (item bi 90014534), while Favero (item bi 90014553) and Saul (item bi 90014597) examine specific higher education teacher preparation programs. Gomes (item bi 90014569) assesses the impact of college degree acquisition from 49 institutions and Marinho analyzes (item bi 88002184) the organization and regulation of the liberal professions.

Much of the literature on higher education is historical in nature. Barros' classic study (item bi 88002173) of the forces which retarded the creation of a university in Brazil has been republished, Nadai (item bi 88002190) reviews higher education in São Paulo during the period 1891-1934, and Costa (item bi 88002183) traces the history of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. Cunha (item bi 90014548) builds on his two earlier volumes in examining the forces and events leading to the university reform act of 1968, while Pinto (item bi 88002169) offers a student's insight into the same era. Canuto (item bi 90014542), on the other hand, uses the history of the university to explicate political and economic interactions.

Three studies of higher education focus on university extension: Carneiro (item bi 88002167) writes on nine northeastern universities; Fagundes (item bi 88002161) places extension in the wider context of university-society relationships; and Silveira (item bi 88002194) argues that the Rondon Project failed to meet its goal of involving students in social/community work. Related to university extension are adult education programs, with Paulo Freire remaining the best known contributor to this literature. Several items authored or co-authored by Freire on his well known approach to adult literacy instruction and consciousness-raising are included here (items bi 90014560, bi 90014565, and bi 90014561). Freitag (item bi 90014562) complements Freire's approach in her book describing efforts to teach reading and writing skills to her maid. Lovisolo (item bi 90014584) provides an excellent analysis of the reform of MOBRAL, the national literacy program.

Literacy in São Paulo preschools is the topic of a study by Franchi (item bi 90014559), while Rego (item bi 88002538) concludes that early childhood literacy knowledge is more a product of family context than of school experience. Acioly and Schliemann (item bi 90014527) argue that the school's contribution to mathematical skill learning is in developing a more generalizable ability to analyze relationships.

Preschool instruction in São Paulo is the subject of Kishimoto's review (item bi 90014579) of the period 1870-1940, while Vieira (item bi 91000023) examines the day-care policies of the National Department of Children in an historical perspective, and Ferrari (item bi 90014556) analyzes the expansion of preschool enrollments between 1968 and 1986.

The problem of failure rates at the elementary school level is the subject of Freitas' (item bi 90014564) and Kramer, et al.'s ethnographic studies (item bi 88002537), while Verhine and Melo (item bi 91000022) use a survey and case study to identify causes of dropping out and repetition in Bahia. Both Costa (item bi 90014546) and Sipavicius (item bi 91000018) review and analyze the Brazilian literature on school performance determinants.

Other works focus on differing approaches to primary education and include Arroyo's edited volume (item bi 90014540) addressing the needs of marginalized populations, Paro, et al.'s study (item bi 90014589) on experimental interventions in Rio and São Paulo, and Mello's review (item bi 90014585) of initiatives in São Paulo to extend a meaningful form of public instruction to the masses. Related to elementary education is an examination by Moyses (item bi 90014586) of the quality of textbooks, primarily from the perspective of the student. In the same area, Pretto (item bi 90014595) examines how science is dealt with in primary level textbooks, while Silva's edited volume (item bi 91000017) identifies ethnic bias in didactic materials.

Cross-cultural education is the topic of an issue of Cadernos de Pesquisa (item bi 90014596). Additionally, Pinto offers a literature review on the education of Afro-Brazilians (item bi 90014593), while Rosemberg (item bi 88003176) compares racial and sex discrimination in schools and the labor market. Regarding discrimination, Bruschini and Amando (item bi 90014541) argue that the teaching profession constitutes a nationwide female ghetto. Fiori (item bi 89000389) provides an historical analysis of the ideology perpetuated in German schools in the last century, and Schrader (item bi 89000388) examines policies regarding schools for minority immigrants.

Kuenzer (item bi 90014583) focuses on secondary education in her analysis of education and work, and Pey (item bi 90014591) offers an ethnographic account of a secondary night-school classroom. Also related to secondary education is a discussion by Franco (item bi 88002536) of agro-technical education and an historical analysis by Piletti (item bi 90014592) of the 1971 law which made technical/professional instruction obligatory. Fonseca's republished five-volume history of technical education in Brazil (item bi 90014558) is also mainly concerned with the secondary level.

Many studies of Brazilian education deal with the system as a whole. Examples focus on the philosophy of education (item bi 91000015), educational politics and the massification of culture (item bi 90014563), school administration (item bi 90014588), and the interrelationships among education and sociopolitical factors (item bi 90014555). The public versus private debate has been intense in Brazil, with the pro-public-school position stated in a volume edited by Cunha (item bi 90014545). Related is Velloso's contention (item bi 91000021) that various funding networks are being used to privatize the nation's schooling system. Gomes (item bi 90014571) analyzes the applications and effects of a constitutional amendment requiring that a minimum percentage of public expenditures be spent on education. Plank (item bi 90014594) finds educational expansion between 1940 and 1981 related to social, economic, and political factors.

Treatment of education following the recent constitutional convention is offered by Herkenhoff (item bi 90014578), while Fischmann (item bi 90014557) and Souza (item bi 88002156) include articles on the topic in their collections of essays on current educational issues. The Workers' Party (PT) outlines its program (item bi 90014549), while Saviani (item bi 91000016) argues that the national Congress is capable of promoting a working-class oriented, liberating form of public instruction. Other general contributions, these on education as a field of study, include Tobias' analysis of the history of Brazilian education (item bi 91000020), Almeida's evaluation of concepts used by Brazil's educational historians (item bi 90014532), Ghiraldelli's review of the development of pedagogical ideas (item bi 90014566) and studies by Penna (item bi 90014590) and Gandini (item bi 88001002) of, respectively, Fernando Azevedo and Anísio Teixeira.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the advances in educational scholarship over the past decade again appear threatened by the nation's precarious economic situation and uncertain political climate. Resources for research and related academic activities are dangerously scarce, and while what has been accomplished in the past is laudable, the future provides much less room for optimism.

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