Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday inaugurated a nationwide literacy program, saying education is the key to equal opportunity.
Noting that an average 15 percent of the country's children cannot read or write by the age of eight, Rousseff said literacy and basic math comprehension are essential to the future of Brazil's children.
"More than any other initiative, education ... can ensure access to equal opportunities," said the president.
The effort, which requires an investment of 1.33 billion U.S. dollars in literacy initiatives for pre-school children, is aimed at making Brazilian children able to read and write by the age of eight.
The fund will be used to train 360,000 teachers to teach some 8 million children in more than 100,000 schools in the next two years.
Promoting reading and writing among children cannot be achieved by the government alone, said Rousseff, adding that families and society as a whole need to get involved also.
"The future of the country is at stake," she said. "The poor education of public school children is at the root of inequality."