Education is free and mandatory in Brasilia for children up to the age of 14. The nine compulsory years of schooling are called Fundamental Education (or Ensino Fundamental), and are separated into Fundamental I and Fundamental II. In the state schools of Brasilia, all students must take an examination at the end of each of these levels. The exam determines whether a child may progress on to the next level; because of this, it is common to have students of varying ages in class together.
Private schools in Brasilia follow a European based structure of education, and a higher level of focus is placed on artistic and humanity classes. Many expat families choose to send their children to one of the city’s international schools. The most popular multinational institutions in Brasilia are the Brasilia International School, American School of Brasilia and the Swiss International School. These schools mostly teach in English and their facilities and teaching systems are of an extremely high standard.
Brasilia is home to a selection of iconic sights and monuments. The pride of the city is the Catedral Metropolitana. This impressive piece of 1970s architecture consists of 16 curved white columns and a jaw-dropping stain glass interior. The entrance to the cathedral is surrounded by statues of the Four Disciples, which were designed by renowned sculptor Ceschiatti, as were the aluminum angels that hang from the cathedral ceiling.
Another must-see spot in Brasilia is the Palacio da Alvorada. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer; this building is the official presidential residence of Brazil, and makes for some incredible sightseeing. Lovers of nature will enjoy visiting the Itiquira Falls, which lie just north of the city. At 168 m high, these rocky falls are considered one of Brazil’s most picturesque destinations.
Compared to other cities in Brazil, such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia is very safe. The city has a reputation for being an affluent, safe place to live and in the central district this is especially true. Expats should, however, be careful to avoid the ‘satellite cities’ that lie on the outskirts of Brasilia. These shanty towns have been built to accommodate laborers and workers; however, they have also attracted large numbers of criminals.
The most common crime is petty theft, such as pickpocketing. Con artists operate in crowded areas and target foreigners. Much less common but not unheard of in the satellite towns is ‘quicknapping’. This phenomenon describes a very fast kidnapping where the prisoner is taken and held to ransom for a very brief amount of time. Quicknapping is unique to Brazil and has emerged in recent years. Foreigners are especially at risk, so expats should take particular care to stay in safe areas. If an emergency should occur, the police will be fast to respond and can be reached on 194.