Public - Priv
It is early afternoon on an overcast, cold Wednes- day in São Paulo. Upon entering the Dr. Alberto Badra state school in the Vila das Belezas neigh- borhood of São Paulo, we are introduced to Franco, a precocious eight-year-old with a big toothless smile and curly brown hair. Several of his schoolteachers are there, too. Franco has been waiting to show us around his
school, and afternoon classes are in session. The school’s
hallways are bare, displaying none of the student work
typically seen in schools in the United States. He takes
us to a 3rd-grade classroom, where a teacher is reading
to students bundled up in jackets, hats and scarves because of the lack of heat. Approximately 30 of them follow along in books shared by up to three students, all
sitting at round tables.
Keeping a child’s focus on his or her lesson is chal-
lenging enough when each student has his or her own
book. It’s considerably harder when they not only have
to share but have to brave the cold at their desks. Con-
ditions like these help to explain why the performance
of Latin American students lags behind that of devel-
oped and even many developing regions.