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Brazil Boasts of Being a BRIC, But Being a FICS Would Be Much Better

Brazilian iron oreBRIC is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of these countries equals US$ 16 trillion, 23.51% of the gross global product. Their exports add up to about US$ 2 trillion, 13.03% of total worldwide exports.

In a world with neither military polarities nor political hegemony, these countries form an important center of power. Because of this, the recent BRIC meeting in Brasília was an important world event and attracted international press attention.

Another group – one neither created nor given a name – can have a greater future than that of BRIC. This is the group encompassing Finland, Ireland, South Korea [Coréia do Sul] and Sweden, which we can call “FICS.” What characterizes these countries is the fact that they hold knowledge, the principal capital of the future.

While the BRIC countries have high rates of production, consumption and participation in international commerce, the FICS countries form part of the world’s educational elite. The comparison between the BRIC educational data and those of the FICS demonstrates the difference between them.

While the FICS countries occupy the 1st through 22nd positions, the BRIC countries are between 34th and 52nd in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) administrated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 57 countries, analyzing achievement in reading, mathematics and sciences.

While in the FICS, the secondary-school completion rates range from 62% to 91%, in the BRIC they range from 15% to 57% of the population.

All the FICS countries have a 100% adult literacy rate, but in the BRIC – except for Russia, which has also achieved 100% adult literacy – the rates vary from 66% to 94%.

The FICS countries occupy a modest position in world production, only 2.97% of the world GDP, but they participate with 5.41% of the total exports.

Thanks to good elementary/secondary education, the FICS produce and export an ever-increasing amount of goods with high scientific and technological content. The BRIC, on the other hand, principally export agricultural and mineral goods, products of the textile and machine industry with low added value, nonrenewable products, like oil and gas, or even simple trifles.

Reality shows the advantages that the FICS hold over the BRIC: the per-capita income of the former is 4.9 times greater than that of the latter.

The BRIC Gini index (the closer to 1, the worse the income distribution) varies from 0.550 (this, the worse index, is Brazil’s) to 0.370. The FICS Gini index, on the other hand, ranges from 0.250 to 0.343.

The Human Development Index – HDI (the closer to 1, the greater the development) in the FICS varies from 0.937 to 0.965, while that in the BRIC varies from 0.612 to 0.817.

The FICS countries also have the advantage in sociopolitical stability, in environmental protection, in political ethics, and in peaceful streets. Even in times of financial crisis, as may occur in Ireland, the recovery will possibly be faster.

It is, above all, the outlook for the future that places these countries in superior conditions. The FICS covers insignificant territory, has a small population, and low production, reduced participation in international commerce.

In an economy increasingly based upon the value of knowledge, however, the FICS will have a more brilliant future, if compared with the educational backwardness of the BRIC.

Of the former, Korea and Ireland began their revolutions only a few decades ago. Even a few years ago, their educational situation was no better than that of Brazil. They have shown that it was possible, however.

It is a shame that it is so difficult to convince the Brazilians to imagine our country with quality education for all. This is why we are commemorating the BRIC while ignoring the advantage held by the FICS.

Cristovam Buarque is a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District. You can visit his website – www.cristovam.org.br – and write to him at cristovam@senado.gov.br. A new translation of his science-fiction novel The Subterranean Gods is available on Amazon.com.

Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome LinJerome@cs.com.

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