This study explores the difficulties of evaluating education inequities and inequalities in developing countries and proposes practical definitions of education equity and equality, applying them to the case of Brazil, using the information from the 2007 quality tests (Prova Brasil). The study indicates that more than half of 4th grade children display high deficiencies in their reading abilities, which can affect their academic performance throughout their school career. The deficiencies in reading vary significantly between states and between sub‐populations (organized according to parent education level, family socio‐economic level and ethnic group). The study found that some of the key school resources that affect learning, such as infrastructure, teachers with higher salaries, well‐equipped libraries, access to computers and internet or safe schools, are unequally distributed, particularly affecting children from families with parents who have a low education level, families in poverty or from an Afro‐descendant or Asian background. This paper shows that school supply‐side factors matter: school resources are related to student achievement and are inequitably distributed. The methodology suggested in this study to estimate the inequalities in the distribution of school resources is easy to apply and may be a useful tool for education policy makers and education sector authorities in Brazil and in other countries from the region.
Inter-American Development Bank
Americas and the Caribbean
Quality of education
Social barriers to education