Education woes seen as Achilles‘ heel of Brazil
Published : May 16, 2013 - 17:41
Updated : May 16, 2013 - 17:41
Education woes seen as Achilles‘ heel of Brazil

SEROPEDICA, Brazil (AP) _ There‘s a storage room just off a university lab that gives students more experience than many can handle: Skinned pigs and cats, disembodied cow livers, intestines, brains and the other unidentifiable detritus of years’ worth of dissections fill a dozen wading pool-sized vats to the brim.

With the veterinary department‘s incinerator long on the fritz, the stomach-turning, formaldehyde-drenched mass of animal carcasses and organs grows by the day.

Similar scenes of neglect and decay play out across the sprawling, once-stately campus. Laboratories routinely flood when it rains, lecture halls reach oven-like temperatures because the burned-out air conditioning units were never replaced, the Internet works only intermittently and students hardly dare venture out after dark for fear of being mugged.

The situation at the Rural Federal University in this distant suburb of Rio de Janeiro is not an anomaly. As a new middle class rises in Brazil with aspirations for better education, it is finding lamentable conditions and low standards of education at many colleges and universities across Brazil. That has experts warning that the country’s strained education system could stymie development, even as Brazil emerges as an economic powerhouse.

Thanks largely to a decade-long boom in commodities, Brazil last year outstripped Britain to become world‘s sixth largest economy. To maintain its spot, the country needs well-trained professionals, especially engineers to help tap the vast deep-sea oil deposits off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state that officials here are counting on to fuel Brazil’s development.