According to President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian education leaves a lot to be desired. “Everything is going increasingly downhill,” he said last month, to journalists during a trip to Dallas. “What we want is to save education.”
That would seem a reasonable thing to say if Mr. Bolsonaro were, for example, announcing a new education plan or a substantial increase in spending on public schools. But instead, he was alluding to a $1.5 billion “freeze” to Brazil’s education budget. (The government insists on calling it freeze, rather than the cut it is; that’s because, in theory, the funds will be made available when the economic situation improves.) These cuts amount to 30 percent of the discretionary budgets (which cover utility bills, scholarships, cleaning, maintenance and security, among other things) at all federal universities.