Systemic Inequalities in the Brazilian Education System: By Chance or by Choice?

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Cotter




Systemic inequalities in the Brazil date back to the Colonial Era (1500 to 1822). One of the primary institutions which reflects these inequalities in Brazil is the education system. It is the objective of this thesis to analyze factors that impact educational attainment throughout Brazil with a focus on class, ethnicity, gender, and geographic location. First I provide in depth descriptions of the education system in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Amazonas, and Bahia, and discuss the problems they face. These five states all have distinct populations, and as a result distinct education systems and sets of problems based on the population they cater to. Next, I analyze the factors I mention above by each state and break down the flaws of these education systems in order to uncover the dysfunctional aspects of this institution. Through the discussion of Conflict Theory, Functionalist Theory, and Institutionalist Theory, patterns and structures in the education system are detected which lead to the reproduction of inequalities. I conclude that class and ethnicity are the two factors, which most strongly impact educational attainment largely due to the elitist nature of education in Brazil. I make suggestions on areas which need further research to advance the understand of systemic inequalities in the Brazilian education system.

This document is currently not available here.



Rights Statement

No Known Copyright