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August 2004 Among the many problems developing countries face, education is central.
On the other hand, can any better result be achieved without negotiation? A recent poll of 15 to 64 years olds found that only 25% of Brazilians could fully read and write, 8% were completely illiterate, and 67% were functionally illiterate--they could read, but could not comprehend the full meaning of what they read or make a connection to other issues.
This is both a development problem and a problem for development.
Those with less education usually have less income and also have more difficulty understanding their own predicament.
Thus, these people are more vulnerable in both social and economic terms, and often become dependent on the powerful in society for supplying many of their basic needs.
For example, one NGO interviewee, Lucio Ventania, works with socially vulnerable people such as prostitutes and former inmates.
His clients face great difficulties obtaining jobs because they cannot understand very basic information.Freire rightly saw empowerment as a path to freedom.In his view, the functionally illiterate should be educated with a pedagogy capable of opening their minds to a broader understanding of the reality in which they live.One could then expect developing countries to place a high priority on education (at least at a basic level), so everyone would at least meet some minimal educational standards (e.g., basic literacy). Structural conflicts are one reason why education is often not prioritized.Lack of education allows easier political and economic control and thus is in the interest of the powerful elite. This exemplifies the lack of conflict resolution training within schools in Brazil.Like those in many other developing societies, Brazilian schools tend to be authoritarian.Frequently, in large Brazilian towns and neighborhoods, criminal elements order schools and stores to shut their doors and send students and employees away.This hurts the children, who miss school, but it also hurts them because the resulting fear and instability undermines their full learning capacity.The level of intra-household conflict and even physical violence is high, but remains veiled as women fear the consequences of reporting the abuse or being abandoned.Additionally, parents who did not get a good education normally do not attribute importance to education for their children.