Refugees and asylum seekers have the right to education according to Brazilian Law 9.474/1997. The Brazilian Educational System includes multiple levels:
- Basic education for children and adolescents between 0 and 17 years old (Infant, Elementary and Secondary education)
- Basic education for adults and youth (18 years old or +)
- Technical education
- University level
Refugees and asylum seekers with university degrees can revalidate their diplomas with the support of UNHCR and its partners.
Education for Children and Adolescents
Public Education (free of charge) for children and adolescents is divided upon three levels, according to the age:
- Infant Education (0-5 years): includes day care centres and preschools
- Elementary Education (6–14 years): covers State and Municipal schools, divided into years 1-9
- Secondary Education (15-17 years): also has State and Municipal schools, and is divided into 1st – 3rd year
Go to the nearest school to your home in order to enroll your child. Bring your personal identification documents (Protocol/Carteira -Identity card/RNE, CPF).
Note that refugee children must be enrolled in school at any time in the year, even if they do not have the complete documentation required. For instance, the Brazilian refugee law determines that refugees may be exempt from presenting documents from their country of origin, as they might not possess them.
Adult Education: I am 18 years old or older and I did not finish school. Can I continue my studies in Brazil?
Yes. There is a governmental program specific for adults (18 years or +) who did not complete Elementary or Secondary School: Education for Adults and the Youth (EJA – Educação de Jovens e Adultos). The EJA is offered by state and municipal schools in presential and distance learning modalities.
Technical Education: What is the technical education and how do I enroll?
The Technical Education program of Brazil (PRONATEC) provides more than 500 diverse professional courses through the country. Registration are open on an ongoing basis.
For more information on enrolment, see their website.
University Admission: How can I start or continue my studies at a Brazilian university?
Asylum Seekers and refugees can access public and private Universities in Brazil if they have already finished Secondary Education. It is advisable to have an advanced level of Portuguese, as most courses are not available in foreign languages.
Universities determine diverse modalities of entrance exams (‘Vestibular’). You should consult the requirements and documentation for each institution. The most common exam adopted is ENEM, which is carried out every year by the National Institute of Studies and Research (INEP). For more information, please see here.
In São Paulo, the organization Mafalda offers free preparatory courses for university entry exams, which are accessible to refugees and migrants. Find out more on their website.
List of universities with facilitated entrance procedures for refugees
Universidade de Brasília (UnB)
The university has a special program that allows refugees to register as regular students. The person must be declared a refugee by the “Comitê Nacional para Refugiados” (National Committee for Refugees – CONARE) to be eligible. No candidate who has completed secondary education in Brazil will be accepted. The university fills any places arising from the dismissal and the transfer of students to other tertiary level institutions or those remaining from the “Vestibular”. Refugees admitted as students have the same rights and duties as other students at UnB.
Furhter information: Dean’s Office: (61) 31070254.
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG)
City: Belo Horizonte
The university provides specific places for refugees. Enrolment is restricted to those who have completed their secondary education in their country of origin up to two years prior to having their application approved by CONARE (the Brazilian National Committee for Refugees), or those who have completed the same level of study in Brazil up to two years after endorsement by CONARE. The resolution with all the information is available here.
Further information: DRCA: (31) 3409-4162. Public service hours: 8h30 – 11h and 13h – 16h30. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM)
Cities: Uberaba and Iturama
The university provides specific places for refugees in various courses. The selection process for admission takes place in January. For more information, click here.
Further information: email@example.com
Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR)
The Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) has a project for refugees to reentry university. Students who had their studies interrupted in their country of origin can re-apply at UFPR for continuing them. Moreover, if you need financial assistance you can apply for scholarships that offer assistance for housing, transportation and food.
Rio Grande do Sul
Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM)
City: Santa Maria
Resolution 041/2016 establishes the access of migrants and refugees in a vulnerable situation to the technical and superior education. Available here. Every year, the university publishes a specific call for refugees and immigrants in vulnerable situations. The last call for applications, already closed, can be accessed here.
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
City: Porto Alegre
The university, through a special department on affirmative actions, opened special applications for refugees for the first time last November, 2017. There were 32 vacancies for asylum seekers and refugees in 19 graduation courses, to start in the beginning of 2018. Information available here.
Bolsa San Tiago Dantas (UNESP – UNICAMP – PUC)
City: São Paulo
The Postgraduate Program in International Relations San Tiago Dantas, from UNESP (Universidade Estadual Paulista), UNICAMP (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) and PUC-SP (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo), opened, for the first time, special applications for refugees for Master and Doctorate courses during january 2018.
Further information: click here.
Universidade Católica de Santos (UNISANTOS)
The university offers scholarships to refugees, which pays all tuition and/or university fees for such students. As a general rule, the notice for scholarships is published in January of each year and the relevant information is available on the university website. To access the last call for applications, click here.
Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)
The university has opened vacancies for refugees and refugees since 1980, through a special application form on the Academic Board. It is mandatory to have refugee status already recognized and validated by CONARE (Brazilian National Committee for Refugees) when applying for a place in one of the undergraduate or postgraduate courses. It is necessary to have completed secondary education and carry supporting documentation to enroll in undergraduate courses. To apply for postgraduation courses, the candidate must have completed higher education and carry the supporting documentation. An internal committee evaluates the applications.
Further information: DAC: (19) 35216410. Public service hours: 8h45 – 22h30. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and Cátedra Sérgio Vieira de Mello/UNICAMP e-mail: email@example.com
Address: Universidade Estadual de Campinas – Diretoria Acadêmica – Rua Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, 290 – Ciclo Básico II – Cidade Universitária “Zeferino Vaz”. Bairro Barão Geraldo – CEP 13083-859.
Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC)
City: Santo André e São Bernardo
In January 2018, UFABC offered 12 places for refugees and asylum seekers through Sisu, the Unified Selection System. The vacancies were for graduation in two areas: Bachelor in Science and Technology (BC & T) and Bachelor in Sciences and Humanities (BC & H), divided between the Campi of Santo André and São Bernardo.
To enroll in the Sisu, the student must have taken the National High School Examination (Enem) of the previous year. The minimum grade in the Enem required by UFABC is 450 points in each area of knowledge and 500 in the writing.
Further information: (11) 4996-0001 / (11) 2320-6120.
Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar)
City: São Carlos
The University has specific vacancies for refugees on their undergraduate courses. There are, in total, 64 courses on university campus of São Carlos (distant 235km from the capital), Araras (170km from the capital), Sorocaba (102 km from São Paulo), Buri (266 km) and Lagoa do Sino (240km).
Further information: (16) 3351-8152.
I have already finished University in my country of origin. How can I recognize my qualifications and diplomas in Brazil?
The revalidation of diplomas in Brazil is regulated by Normative Ordinance No. 22, from December 13, 2016, of the Ministry of Education (MEC). Foreign university degrees need to be revalidated by a public university in Brazil in order to be recognized in the country. Other degrees, such as Masters and PhD, can be recognized by private universities. The Ministry of Education (MEC) regulates the recognition process for all diplomas issued abroad. MEC granted autonomy to Brazilian public universities to determine the conditions for the recognition of undergraduate degrees. Therefore, the requirements related to documentation, duration of the process and field of study vary among universities. However, there are some frequent common steps to be followed in this procedure.
- Get informed about which Brazilian public university offers a major in the same area of knowledge of yours.
- Before beginning the revalidation process, you should: compare the programmatic content of the courses; analyze the test grade; verify if the course has had any class graduated (so that it is recognized by the MEC); check the price of the revalidation fee; check if the revalidation process is in full operation and, if possible, contact the course coordinator before to solve any doubts.
- Submit the application for recognition accompanied by your certificate of refugee issued by CONARE and all relevant documents available (such as undergraduate diploma, curriculum and university records).
- Universities usually charge a fee for this process, which can vary greatly among the institutions. Also, there are some universities that determined a reduction of the fee for persons in a vulnerable situation (upon self-declaration) or for recognized refugees – so the refugee should seek the best cost-benefit throughout the country.
- A special committee composed by university professors will evaluate your revalidation request.
- If there are divergences between the course taken abroad and the one offered by the university, the committee can request you to take tests (in Portuguese) or complimentary classes in order to recognize the equivalence of degrees.
- Some universities also require a certificate of proficiency in Portuguese language for foreigners. The CELPE-Bras is the only officially recognized Brazilian certificate of proficiency in Portuguese and is awarded at four levels: Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced and Upper Advanced. For more information, see here.
Attention: Regardless of the certificate of proficiency, it is a condition to have at least intermediate Portuguese, since the refugee may perform a revalidation test that will be applied in Portuguese.
For more information please see the website of the Brazilian Ministry of Education (in Portuguese).
Since March 2016, the NGO Compassiva started a project, in partnership with UNHCR, to provide individual assistance for refugees who wish to have their diplomas recognized. Please contact them for more information.
For more information on the procedure for diploma revalidation, please read this publication done by UNHCR and Compassiva.
Some public institutions and NGO’s offer free basic Portuguese courses for asylum-seekers and refugees. Please find a list below. Due to the high demand for those courses, some of them will have waiting lists.
- IMDH (UNHCR’s partner) offers Portuguese classes and is also a registration point for other Language centers:
- CED – Centro Educacional Fundamental (Quadra 120, Samambaia Sul; next to Furnas metro station)
- CEDEP (Quadra 9, Conj. D, Paranoá )
- Escola Classe (Quadra 431, Samambaia Norte)
- Universidade de Brasília (UnB), NEPPE (Núcleo de Ensino e Pesquisa em Português para Estrangeiros). Address: Plano Piloto, Ala Central, Bloco B, 1º Andar, Sala 347; Phone: +55 61 31077321; Website: http://www.neppe.unb.br/br/
In order to enroll in one of those courses, contact IMDH.
- Casa São José
Quadra 01, Vila Varjão (Bus 136.9 or 136.7 – Get off at the 1st stop entering Varjão)
Phone: +55 61 82038926 (Natália)
- Universidade Católica de Brasília
UCBQS 07, Lote 01, EPCT, Águas Claras
Phone: +55 61 33569032
- Caritas Brasileira Regional Paraná (UNHCR partner)
Rua Paula Gomes, 703, 1º andar
Phone: +55 41 30239907
You can learn more about Portuguese classes in Curitiba by contacting Caritas Paraná. They will be able to offer more information and guidance on how to start a Portuguese course.
- Português para Estrangeiros (Portuguese for Foreigners) – Celin
Praça Santos Andrade, nº 50, sala 28 – Térreo
Phone: +55 41 33102670
The Portuguese classes were created by the Federal University of Paraná. For more information on how to enrol in the courses, you can either contact the number above or go directly to their address.
Rua Eduardo Sprada, 250 – Campo Comprido
Phone: +55 41 33242456
- Cibai Migrações
Rua Dr Barros Cassal, 220 – Floresta
Phone: +55 51 3226-8800
- Caritas Arquidiocesana de São Paulo, Refrence Center for Refugees (UNHCR partner)
Address: Rua José Bonifácio, nº107, 1º andar – Centro
Phone: +55 11 32413239
This is where registration for most Portuguese courses in São Paulo is done. There they will be able to offer more information and guidance on how to start a Portuguese course.
- Compassiva (UNHCR partner)
Address: R. da Glória, 900 – Liberdade
Phone: +55 11 25373449
Address: Rua Baronesa de Itu, 639 – Santa Cecília
Phone: +55 11 996093188
- ADUS (UNHCR partner)
Address: Av. São João, 313 (11th floor) – Centro
Phone: +55 11 32250439
- Projeto Si, Yo Puedo – CIC do Imigrante
Address: Praça Kantuta – Canindé
Phone: +55 11 32413239 (Caritas SP)
- MEMOREF (UNIFESP)
Address: Estr. do Caminho Velho, 333 – Pimentas
Phone: +55 11 55764848
Rio de Janeiro
- Caritas Arquidiocesana do Rio de Janeiro (UNHCR partner)
Address: Rua São Francisco Xavier, nº483 – Maracanã
Phone: +55 21 25674177
- Pastoral do Migrante
Address: Rua Leovegildo Coêlho, 237 – Centro
Phone: +55 92 32327257
- Paróquia Sagrado Coração de Jesus
Address: Av. Carandaí, 1010 – Funcionários
Phone: +55 31 32221817