Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


Brazil's New Government and the Politics of Education

The 1930s began with the establishment of Brazil's new government, later to be called "Estado Novo" (New State), which is also referred to as the "1930 Revolution" [1]. Getulio Vargas served as the President of a "Provisory Government" from 1930-34. After the Coup d'Etat of 1937, Vargas' power increased with the support of militaries and national oligarchy. During that same period, the manufacturing sector began to emerge. Furthermore, education appeared as the central instrument for the establishment and consolidation of Vargas' government.

In 1931, the Ministry of Public Health and Instruction was created. Its task was to prepare and present the New National Education Plan. 1934 marked the first time that education was specifically treated within a special chapter of the Constitution. As a result of the ministry's efforts, public schools expanded and the attendance of primary education became compulsory. Further, demands for new skills, as a result of the growth of the industrial activities, increased. The youth had to be prepared for newly-created jobs. Consequently, the role of education expanded by preparing the population for different professional roles. Public technical schools were soon established. In summary, the State created a whole new system in order to build up professional capabilities.

In addition to a strong commitment to training, Vargas' government also prioritized moral and civic instruction. The values of the nation, its heroes, and its culture and history, together with the valorization of military activities, was strongly present within school systems. The main guidelines which based the educational policy in those years can be summarized as follows: exaltation to nationalistic values, criticism to liberalism, anti-communism, and strong emphasis on technical training.

From a narrow and immediatist view, it can be said that the established structure made possible the expansion of the industrial sector. This structure continues to operate its professional schools and institutes. However, it is important to point out that the expansion of education also focused on the strengthening of the dominant class and the maintenance of the status quo.

[1] It was not really a "Revolution". The power was transferred from a liberal government, which used to have the dominant class' support, to a centralized provisory government. This new group of politicians, led by Getulio Vargas, also represented the interest of agrarian and the emerging industrial dominant class.


Silva, M. S., A Educacao Brasileira no Estado Novo, Editorial Livramento, Sao Paulo,1980

Ribeiro, M. L. S., Introducao a Historia da Educacao Brasileira, Cortez & Moraes, Sao Paulo, 1978

Nagle, J., Educacao e Sociedade na Primeira Republica , Ed. Pedagogica e Universitaria Ltda, Sao Paulo, 1974

Prepared by: Beatriz Santana (UCLA)

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