Brazil Education and Religion

By | March 22, 2021


Education and training

The Brazilian education system has three levels. School attendance is compulsory for the elementary school (Ensino Fundamental), which comprises 8 school years. After that there is a three-year secondary school (Ensino Médio) as the second level, which is a prerequisite for admission to the university. Admission to a university takes place after a further entrance examination (vestibular). The quality levelThese levels of education, which build on each other, rise upwards in public schools. Until a few years ago, there was the least investment in elementary schools. The public basic education system is therefore partly in a very bad state today. That is why the middle and upper classes send their children to a private school whenever possible.

Since 2001, the “Bolsa Escola” program has been introduced across Brazil, and in 2003 it was integrated into President Lula’s “Bolsa Família” program. Low-income families receive state aid for every child who regularly goes to school. This program has at least increased the number of school children.

The vocational training and adult education take in the Brazilian education system one of only minor importance. The practical training and further education takes place in-house or in cooperation with the training institutions financed by industry and trade.


With regard to the Brazilian higher education system, the picture is reversed. In the last few decades there has been heavy investment in state universities, so that they are very well equipped and usually enjoy a higher reputation than private institutions. Recently, however, this picture has been changing, since here too the necessary investments have not been made to maintain the quality standard achieved. The proportion of students in private educational establishments, which is very low in basic education, is already around two thirds in universities. Brazil is also making great efforts in research to work its way up to world level. The state, but increasingly also private industry, is focusing primarily on applied research.

Since February 2002, various programs have been initiated between Germany and Brazil in several areas, such as partnership projects between German and Brazilian universities (UNIBRAL) and scientific and technical initiatives in high technology.


Círio de Nazaré - Madonna procession in Belem do Pará

Círio de Nazaré – Madonna procession in Belem do Pará

Changes in Brazil’s Religious Landscape

As a country located in South America according to aristmarketing, Brazil has so far been considered the largest Catholic country in the world, but evangelical denominations and Pentecostal churches are gaining ground. They use very clever marketing, promises of salvation and show fairs for this. According to the IBGE, evangelicals will represent 50% of the country’s population in 2022 if current developments continue, making them the largest religious group. In the 2000 census, which also gave information about the religious affiliation of the population, 73% were Catholics.

Many saw in the politicization a reason for the growing influence of the Protestant churches and sects in Brazil, especially the Pentecostal churches and “Neopentescostais” from the USA. Another reason is the lack of “bureaucracy” in the evangelicals. Anyone can found a church and interpret the Bible according to their own interpretation. That is why the Brazilians have already founded 120 churches with different names.

In fact, the Catholic Church in Brazil has repeatedly faced the question of how to deal with the Afro-Brazilian and spiritualistic religious practices that are not openly opposed to the Catholic faith, but rather with their own ideas and practices on new forms of religious expression merged. Many studies have already been devoted to these syncretistic religious phenomena in Brazil. During the time of religious intolerance and cultural repression in the past, the Afro-Brazilian religions of Candomblé, Umbanda and Macumba used Catholicism as a shell behind which they could continue to honor their own deities (Orixás).

Other forms of religiosity, such as Cardezism (including Spiritism) from the 19th century, made a career in Brazil faster than elsewhere. The writings of Allan Kardec (1804-69), who developed his own theory in France in the middle of the 19th century on the border between the philosophy of science and religion, found rapid dissemination in Brazil as early as the second half of the 19th century.

The practice of popular religion in Brazil is still shaped today by these syncretistic forms of belief, which are one of the foundations of cultural fusion processes in immigrant societies.