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Poorly educated workers are hurting Brazil's competitiveness, and businesses are stepping in to help them

Paulo Fridman for TIME

Students converse in an Industrial Management class at Zanzini Furniture Factory in Dois Corregos, Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 27, 2007.

After finishing their shift at Petrobras' Reduc refinery on the edge of Rio de Janeiro one recent spring night, dozens of workers sprinted through the rain toward the company's cavernous canteen. After sandwiches and soft drinks, they sorted themselves into small groups and got down to work. In one corner, an elderly woman hunched over a book trying to figure out whether 99¢ was more than or less than 69¢. In another, three men helped one another with composition exercises. And in a third, workers slapped down dominoes marked with letters in place of dots. "You can see people who have...

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