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Article 205 of the Brazilian Constitution determines that education, which is a right of all and the duty of the government (Estado) and of the family, must be promoted and encouraged with societal collaboration, seeking the full development of the individual, preparation for the exercise of citizenship, and qualification for work.[1]

The Constitution further determines that the government must fulfill its duty towards education by guaranteeing

I – free compulsory elementary education from four to 17 years of age, including assurance that it will be offered gratuitously for all who did not have access to it at the proper age;

II – progressive universality of gratuitous secondary school education;

III – special educational assistance for the handicapped, preferably within the regular school system;

IV – early education in nurseries and preschool for children up to 5 years of age;

V – access to higher levels of education, research and artistic creation, according to individual capacity;

VI – provision of regular night courses adequate to the student’s condition; [and]

VII – educational assistance in all stages of basic education by means of supplemental programs of school books, teaching materials, transportation, nutrition, and health care.[2]

Access to compulsory and free education is a subjective public right.[3]  The government’s failure to offer compulsory education or offering it irregularly implies liability on the part of the competent authority.[4]  The government has the responsibility to conduct a census of elementary school students, to take attendance, and to make sure, jointly with parents or guardians, that students attend school.[5]

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Prepared by Eduardo Soares
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
May 2016

[2] Id. art. 208 (translation by author).

[3] Id. art. 208(§ 1).  A “subjective public right” is a right an individual may claim against the state that is enforceable in court.

[4] Id. art. 208(§ 2).

[5] Id. art. 208(§ 3).