OPEN LETTER IN FAVOR OF A DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION IN BRAZIL

In face of recent and continuing attacks to the democratic freedom in Brazilian schools, which include the proposal of laws that intend to restrain the freedom of teaching and the expression of thinking in the classroom, reforms to the educational system without the participation of the society and educators, and the unacceptable use of violence against students who are claiming for their constitutional rights, we invite the international community to support the students' movement in defense of democracy and freedom and against the violent repression that has been used against them by the government.

In the last months there has been a series of attempts to approve laws with the declared intention of controlling and interfering in the pedagogic work of teachers (info: www.escolasempartido.org), claiming that those are measures to avoid "left-wing indoctrination in schools" and to ban the discussion of themes such as gender, religion, politics and social problems from the classroom. Further to going against recent educational research and good practices in democratic countries, and going against the constitutional right of freedom to teach, these laws aim to create a legal instrument to punish teachers and professors who do not conform to the proposed new law. The urgency and gravity of this situation lies in the fact that one of these projects has already been approved by one of the Brazilian states, and has been brought to discussion at the federal level. We understand it as a clear attempt to intimidate teachers and professors, and to undermine the very basis of a democratic society: knowledge, critical thinking, dialogue and contact with the social reality.

In fact, ignoring the claims of high-school students, the government now proposes reforms to the educational system without the necessary debate with students, teachers and specialists in education. In reaction to these arbitrary and outrageous measures, Brazilian students started a movement of resistance to protect their right to education, becoming an example of democratic participation throughout the country.

Against this pacific and legitimate demonstration of disapproval for the measures imposed and for the total lack of dialogue with students and teachers, Brazilian authorities have used police force, authorizing actions against students that are unthinkable in a democracy: forced withdrawal of the students from the schools, isolation, blocking the supply of water and energy in schools, and the absurd authorization for the use of torture practices against students, produced by a judge. This abuse of institutional power – the police, judicial instruments, suspension of constitutional rights – against students and teachers takes place under the embarrassing indifference of the main mass media in Brazil.

For these reasons, we sign this letter, and invite the international community to do as well, to express our deep concern about these violent and anti-democratic actions against students in Brazil, and to express our support to the young who believe that social justice cannot be built without the respect of human rights, the respect of differences, and the respect of democracy.

Turin, 13 November 2016.

Marcus Aurelio Taborda de Oliveira – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais/Brasil

Paolo Bianchini – Universitàdegli Studi di Torino/Itália

Patricia Camargo –Universidade de São Paulo/Brasil

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