Brazil: students occupy schools to stop “educational reorganisation”

On November 9th at 7:00 pm, several students gathered and decided to occupy the state school of Diadema. The students of the Fernão Dias school, which is also run by the São Paulo state government, did the same the following day. In both places, the demand is one and the same: end the “educational reorganisation” process!

While these words are being written, both schools are under siege by military police forces (in Brazil, the regular police is militarized). The author of this article observed, for some hours from the outside, the student occupation at Fernão Dias. Around ten police cars and two riot police squadrons, making up approximately 150 men are ready to take action against the sixty students inside. One female student was detained after leaving the school, the policemen wanted to drag her to the nearest police station, but they were stopped by more than 400 supporters who were also following the events closely. The girl was released when her family arrived.

The siege continues, and now the police have cut off the water supply. The union of state teachers and other major supporters keep trying to send food and water to the students inside, but any goods they bring are quickly confiscated.

We’ve already forced the government to reduce, by nearly half, the number of schools to be closed in this first wave, from 180 to 94, with large demonstrations with tens of thousands of students, parents and teachers happening almost every week somewhere in the state of São Paulo. However, even this reduced number will have a huge impact. In total 711,000 students and 74,000 teachers will suffer with this proposal. We cannot accept this!

Few teachers will be able to meet the demands the state government is placing upon them in terms of workload. Every day the management of the schools arrive with new information that aggravates the situation. Everything they said they would not do, they are doing. Lies and more lies appear every day. We have no confidence in state government.

All forms of dialogue were used: meetings with education leaders, petitions, marches and even brief occupations of public buildings. However, the government makes it clear that it is not open to negotiations on the “reorganisation” of the schools. Even schools that have escaped this year will certainly be prime targets in the future. We must put an end to the whole process, and the students are ready for the battle. Right now, more than 75 public schools are under the control of the students!

These schools’ resistance to the “reform” is spreading. Public schools will suffer even more if the state government manages to succeed in its plans. We must fight back.

by Arthur Penna, Sao Paulo