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Brazil recession: We’ve been here before, say agencies

Brazil is officially in a recession after figures from last quarter showed the economy contracting 1.9% and the real falling to its weakest level since 2002.

Photo: José Fernandez Jr.

“We have had crisis before that we all survived"

Unemployment is rising and a corruption scandal involving President Dilma Rousseff has created unrest in the streets and mistrust from outside investors.

Education agents in the country however say that while the situation is bad, they’ve seen worse. And they’re confident that an education abroad remains an attainable goal for many Brazilians.

“Back in 2002, it was almost four reais for one dollar. We haven’t reached that yet, so I’ve seen a worse scenario,” said Maura Leão, president of the Brazil Education and Language Travel Association. “That’s why it’s not as bad as it seems.”

“In the last few years we were in a peaceful position with the exchange rate. Now it’s back to everyday you wake up and wonder what the rate will be”

“In the last few years we were in a peaceful position with the exchange rate. Now it’s back to everyday you wake up and wonder what the rate will be.”

Carlos Robles, owner of IEP agency in Brazil said he’s seen a substantial drop in enrolments and the market as a whole is suffering. “But we have had crisis before that we all survived,” he added.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen so we’re all working, watching to see where the economy is leading and doing whatever we can in order to assure to customers that we’ve got good schools with good values for them to study abroad,” he said.

According to Leão, some Belta members have seen up to 40% growth this year and that the crisis might even increase demand.

“When you lose a job, that’s when you look for a programme abroad that can enhance your skills– a language plus or specialised programmes. These types of programmes have been growing,” she said.

Most Brazilian families, however, have long-term savings in place to support their children overseas.

“If you are a very qualified consultant you can adjust their expenses to what you have to offer”

“People have prepared themselves to do an exchange programme. Nobody says tomorrow I’m going to do this. You have to plan it a little bit,” she said.

Still, after the real saw a 25% drop in value against the dollar, agents in Brazil are being asked to make less funds go further.

“If you are a very qualified consultant you can adjust their expenses to what you have to offer,” said Leão.

“You help them achieve what they have planned because you have so many partners that you can offer this this and that. Nobody works with just one level of prices.”

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