Selecting a new school for children might be difficult, since there are many factors to consider. This article will look at some of them and will provide some tips on relocating children to Brazilian schools.
Telling children that they must go to a new school might be hard, especially if they were already fully adapted in their current one. However, this is not necessarily the hardest part of the process.
Various factors must be considered and analyzed before taking any action relating to children's’ education. It is important to understand the Brazilian education system, to know if the content taught is compatible with the one abroad, and even if the journey to get to the school is compatible with the your new workplace.
The Brazilian Education System
Education has been a problem and a solution for Brazil. The number of children attending classes has been growing over the years, and illiteracy rates have been decreasing, which has led to a more prepared workforce. However, the situation is still far from perfect. According to UNICEF, around 5,5% of Brazilian children that are 10 years old are illiterate, and approximately 680.000 children between the of ages of 7 and 14 do not have access to education.
These figures would be worse if schools were not provided for free by the government. The problem is that government schools cannot keep up with the private institutions in terms of quality, so there is a discrepancy between those who can and those who cannot afford private education.
International Schools in Brazil
The scenario for international schools depends a lot on where you and your family will be located. Larger cities - such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - offer a wide range of institutions, but states in the Northern region, for example, have fewer options available.
There are different types of international schools in Brazil. Some are bilingual, but in most of them, Portuguese is still the main language. Bilingual schools are not required - nor accredited - to meet a foreign curriculum, but they usually combine teaching of foreign languages with cultural activities and adopt some characteristics from foreign institutions.
Brazilian institutions that meet a foreign curriculum are known as “K-12 Schools”, short for Kindergarten-12 grade schools. Such institutions offer classes from kindergarten through to high school senior year.
Note that schools exclusively for foreigners are rare; most of the Brazilian K-12 Schools have local students, teachers and staff. Most of the schools also require that new students have a certain proficiency in both English and Portuguese, in order to be admitted.
Information regarding K-12 schools in Brazil can be found here. Schools on this list meet either the American or the British curriculum. They are:
In São Paulo:
- The American Elementary and High School
- Chapel International School
- Pan American Christian Academy
- St. Paul’s School
- St. Francis College
- St. Nicholas School
- British College of Brazil
- Escola Americana de Campinas
- Sant’Anna International School
In Rio de Janeiro:
- The British School of Rio de Janeiro
- American School of Rio de Janeiro
- International Christian School - Rio
- Our Lady of Mercy School
- Rio International School
In Minas Gerais:
- Escola Americana de Belo Horizonte
In Distrito Federal:
- American School of Brasília
- Brasília International School
- Swiss International School
- International School of Curitiba
In Rio Grande do Sul:
- Pan American School of Porto Alegre
- Pan American School of Bahia
- American School of Recife
- Amazon Valley Academy
- Amazonas English Academy
There are also international schools which adopt the curriculum of other countries. In São Paulo, for example, it is possible to find Italian, Japanese and Korean institutions.
Parents who need to enroll their children in a Brazilian school need to research information before actually moving to Brazil. It might be useful to know the cost of tuition fees, where schools are located and which activities they offer.
When in Brazil, this research must continue: a visit to the selected institutions and meetings with the schools’ directors and teachers are useful to understand how the Brazilian education system will work for you and your children in practice.
Many international schools have waiting lists. Have in mind that this can take years, since the demand is a lot higher than the available spaces, so make sure you know your options, and try to contact the institution before relocating.
Since schools require certain levels of Portuguese proficiency, taking classes with a private teacher might be advisable. Many institutions recommend a professional for this service, or even offer it themselves.
While there might be some variations between international schools, there is one aspect common to all of them: elevated prices.
K-12, bilingual schools and international institutions in general are usually more expensive than regular Brazilian institutions.
While the average monthly fee for a well-ranked Brazilian school is around BRL 2.000 or 3.000, international schools can cost double this amount.
A positive point is that most institutions, international or not, offer discounts for multiple children. Some even charge slightly lower fees if a current student’s brother or sister graduated at the same school.