What do young people expect from education to have a better future?

Datafolha research reveals that young people believe that school contributes to the formation of critical sense, but is not essential to obtain better living conditions

Preparation for the job market, training in critical thinking, better living conditions: what do young Brazilians expect from education to have a better future? Some answers to these questions were revealed by a research carried out by Datafolha in 2022.

In July, the research institute carried out a thousand interviews with young people aged between 15 and 29, in the capitals São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza, Recife, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Goiânia, Brasília, Manaus and Belém One in three respondents (32%) said they work and study; 47% of the respondents only work, 17% only study and 4% neither work nor study.

The majority (66%) of the young people interviewed believe that school teaches them to form their own ideas and opinions about the Brazilian reality. For Alexandre Schneider, former secretary of São Paulo's municipal education department, this data reveals that the critical capacity of students should not be underestimated. “They have their own ideas, and research indicates that any kind of attempt to guide this student’s way of thinking will fail,” he told Folha de S.Paulo.

Another search, carried out by Datafolha for All for Education in 2022, shows that 98% of students in high school in the public network want the school to prepare them for the job market. However, in the most recent survey (in which the age range was larger), only 52% of young people agreed that school plays an important role in training a good professional. 

According to Alexandre, this opinion may be based on the perception that the teaching model is based on Enem and entrance exams, and therefore “is not aligned with the real world nor does it provide tools for young people to navigate the path in the job market”.

And what do you expect from the future?

The research also reveals that 67% of young people expect their personal situation to be much better in ten years and 65% believe the same about the financial situation. Responding spontaneously, 20% said that what they most want is to have financial stability, a comfortable life and to become rich; 16% want to have their own home or for their family, 15% dream of success, a good job and pay and 8% want to finish their studies.

“The desire for financial stability and own housing appears as a greater concern than continuing with studies, a decision, the latter, which is fundamental to being able to achieve the first two”, comments Claudia Costin, director of the Center of Excellence and Innovation in Educational Policies at Fundação Getulio Vargas in article for Folha de S.Paulo. “It is known that each additional year of study, according to the World Bank, increases future income from work by up to 15%.”

For 50% of the interviewees, Working is the only way to achieve what you want —and 40% agree that this is the best way, but they also think there are others. Only 19% of young people believe that studying is the only way to have more income in the future, and 67% believe that studying is the best way, but not the only way, to obtain more income.

Pessimism about Brazil

The research also reveals pessimism about the future. Only 25% of those interviewed think that Brazil will be a better country in ten years. And 76% said they had a lot or some desire to move to another country.

“What caught my attention most in this most recent survey was a certain hopelessness among young people about the future. There is a correct perception that something is not going well here and a perhaps naive view that in other countries they would have a much better life, even without having the necessary qualifications to navigate what is conventionally called 'the future of work'” , writes Claudia. 

The solution? “It is urgent to build good public policies aimed at young people, encouraging them to continue studying and creating opportunities so that they can realize their dreams for the future”, he adds.

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