Education and Schools in Rio de Janeiro

Despite concerted efforts by the local government, public education and schools in Rio de Janeiro face high exam failure and dropout rates. For this reason, as well as the fact that classes in Rio's public schools are taught in Portuguese, the majority of expats living in Rio de Janeiro choose to send their children to private or international schools. 

Public schools in Rio de Janeiro

Education at public schools in Rio de Janeiro is free to all children, including foreign children resident in the city. All public schools are managed by the local municipality and there is a standard curriculum followed across all institutions, with classes being taught in Portuguese.

The standard of education at Brazilian public schools remains low and there are often issues involving overcrowding and shortages of materials and teaching staff. Due to the demand for space, and in order to accommodate the high number of students, Rio schools often run three separate school sessions per day: in the morning, afternoon and evening. Children will attend one session per day. Occasionally, private schools in Rio may also follow this pattern. 

Private schools in Rio de Janeiro

Private schools in Rio de Janeiro generally follow the Brazilian national curriculum; some private schools have a religious foundation (predominantly Catholic), while others offer bilingual instruction. 

Some expats choose to send their children to these schools due to the improved quality of education compared to public schools and lower fees compared to international schools. However, as classes are predominantly taught in Portuguese, it’s important that children have at least some proficiency in the language. 

International schools in Rio de Janeiro

There are a few international schools in Rio de Janeiro, which follow a variety of international curricula. The majority of these schools adhere to the British and American systems and are usually sponsored in some way by their home governments. Some international schools in Rio are locally run and offer the Brazilian curriculum. Many of these schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

As demand for places at international schools is high, parents are advised to begin the application process as soon as possible. Parents should also note that fees at international schools in Rio can be exorbitant. It’s therefore vital that anyone moving to Rio with school-aged children ensure that they factor this in when negotiating their relocation contract. 

On top of the high fees, other expenses may include textbooks and stationery, extra-curricular activities, uniforms and school lunches.

Homeschooling in Rio de Janeiro

For expats coming to Rio on a short-term assignment or for those not wanting to enrol their child in a Brazilian school, homeschooling is an option. However, special permission is required from Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education, and this can be a slow and frustrating process. As such, expats need to consider this option carefully and plan well ahead of time.