When it comes to academic recognition, Brazil is a long way behind peers in Europe, Asia, and North America. Its top ranking university – the highest of all the nations in South and Central America – is the University of São Paulo, which achieved the 127 spot in the latest QS World University Rankings.

One of the main reasons behind this is Brazil’s late start into science and technology. Prior to its independence in 1822, Portugal had veered away from bringing education to the then colony, fearing that a literate populace would stride towards nationalism. Even after 1822, the country would still send students to universities in Portugal, and the country didn’t form any institutions of its own until the 20th century. Even to this day, the country still lags behind in literacy rates (at 91.3%) compared to other nations in the area.

Scientific efforts were further hampered in…

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