Brazil spends more money, and a higher percentage of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), on education than other Latin American countries. However, many of the outcomes of the country’s education system are worse than its peer countries. We call this mismatch Brazil’s  Education Paradox.

One of the primary reasons for Brazil’s Education Paradox is the country’s decentralized education system. Municipal, state, and federal governments handle different parts of the education system with little to no coordination among them. Although the Brazilian government is aware of this and working hard to rectify the situation, much of the government’s efforts are hampered by political, social, and economic setbacks. For instance, since 2013, the government has been working on enacting a law that would create a National Education System to improve coordination among the different levels of education. But the government’s plans are still mired in heated debates and disagreements.

Thankfully, market-creating innovations can play a significant role in helping Brazil improve its education system. These innovations are unique for their ability to transform complicated and expensive products into simple and affordable ones—thereby making the products accessible to more people in society. Education-focused market-creating innovations are spreading across Brazil and improving learning outcomes despite the government’s inability to rapidly solve its Education Paradox.

This paper highlights the work that four market-creating innovators—Mind Lab, eduK, Descomplica, and Árvore Educação—are doing to improve learning outcomes in Brazil. In addition to working to create a national education system in Brazil, the government should invest in market-creating innovations that have the potential to create significant impact on the economy. By doing so, Brazil can, once and for all, solve its Education Paradox.


  • Efosa Ojomo
    Efosa Ojomo

    Efosa Ojomo is a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, and co-author of The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty. Efosa researches, writes, and speaks about ways in which innovation can transform organizations and create inclusive prosperity for many in emerging markets.

  • Jacob Fohtung
    Jacob Fohtung