sexta-feira, 18 de novembro de 2011

Brazil: more than economic growth

This is a text with my personal opinion about recent happenings in Sao Paulo University, and it's relation with the Brazilian policy in Safety and Education.

All over the world, people - mainly the young - are outraged with the historic situation of exploitation and lack of respect that exists in their countries, their communities. Protests and manifestations are happening, each time stronger, conquering their ground. Only a few know, but Brazilians aren’t watching this phenomenon with arms crossed.

In the morning of the November 8th, 72 students of the Sao Paulo University, the bigger in Latin America, were arrested in a police operation in which took part 400 policemen of the anti-riot troop. They were following the judicial order to desocuppy the administration building of the University, that was occupied 4 days before as a protests to reclaim the exit of our dean and the military police of the campus, and ask physical and administrative reforms in the University. After the arrest, about three thousand students gathered in assembly and decided to enter a student strike. The points in the discussion are complex, and unfortunately are being distorted by the media, satirized by the public opinion and ignored by the rest of the world.

To understand the USP crisis, you need to understand the Brazil of today. Our fast developing economy, with growing influence on the international scenario, host of the next World Cup an the 2016 Olympic games, disguises a reality: if in one hand Brazil can say that his economy advances like a train, in the other our life quality and access to basic rights still is evolving at turtle speed.

We’re the world sixth bigger economy, but we have shaming results in every other aspect considered important to be called “first world”. About wealth distribution, we are the third most unequal country in the world. In education, we lie in 88th place in a ranking of 127 countries organized by Unesco. In the health area, 50% of brazilian homes doesn’t have basic sanitation. In the security question, we are the 27th country with more homicides, from a list of 207 organized by ONU.

Paraisopolis slum, Sao Paulo


The common young Brazilian doesn’t have opportunity to improve his life. Only a few have the money to pay the expensive private schools, so the only alternative is the public system: deteriorated and constantly vandalized infra-structure, teachers not respected, not motivated and with ridiculously low salaries; students taking guns, drugs and all the problems of their communities to class.

The consequence is obvious: students finish the basic school half-illiterate and incapable of doing a three-figures division. The access to university is practically impossible: the good public universities have a tremendous competition, and use a antique selection system based on the knowledge accumulation, which allows only the sons of the richer class (that can pay good schools) to enter in the academic world.
The result: the Brazilian economic elite continues to ocupy the best and well-paid jobs, while the majority of the population is obliged to be cheap and non-specialized work force, receiving salaries that are a quarter of the minimum to support a family.

Brazil invests today about 5% of the GDP in education, with a shy plan of goals to achieve 7% until 2020. Our own National Council of Education says that it’s needed at least 10%.

Teacher: today we gonna learn the budget conjugation / in the board: I teach, You study, He learns, We grow, You are free, but Lula only invested 5,4% of the budget in Education


You put social inequality, lack of opportunities, educational deficit and the abandon of poor communities by the public power, the result could not be other: violence.

The crime fighting policy in Brazil is old and elitist: the richer spend fortunes with armored cars, surveillance systems and private security, in real bubbles isolated from society. The police, institution that since it’s origin serves to protect the financial elite and the private property, continues to perform its roll: in the poorer communities, far away from the media and public opinion, the poor, black young (stereotype of criminal for the police and the elite) is intimidated, beaten and, not rare, assassinated by the “law and order” forces. Social movements are treated like vandals or bandits. In Brazil, the human rights only apply to some privileged.

The Sao Paulo University affair

USP is the bigger University of Latin America, with around 89 thousand students, offering 229 different graduations. It’s bigger campus is located in Sao Paulo city, in an area of 7,5 km². It is public, free and financed with taxes. It works as an autarchy, which means it has some freedoms in relation with Sao Paulo government.

To make up to the free cost, the idea is that the investment put there goes back to society, in form of scientific researches that help people’s life, the education with critic sense to intervene positively in society, and, of course, the multiplication of the knowledge, based on the universitary extension and services for the surrounding communities.

That’s not what happens today.

The Sao Paulo University is absolutely antidemocratic. Even being public, only enters who can pay for a good school or preparatory courses to the admission exams. Only 12% of young brazilians study in private schools, but they represent 67% of USP students.

It’s own infra-structure, with a walled in campus, buildings with ratchets and the entry restraint of the rest of population in determined hours help to make nobody think the place as a public space in it’s true meaning.

The USP administration is absolutely antidemocratic. Each four years, the Universitary Council (made 76% by full professors, while they represent 0,87% of the university body) organize by vote a list with three names, that is sent to the Sao Paulo Governor, that have the final choice. In reality, one person decides who will be the maximum leader of a public university.

The current dean, João Grandino Rodas, was the second in the list, but nonetheless was elected by the governor José Serra. Rodas is being investigated for corruption by the Public Ministry of Sao Paulo, have suspended salaries of employees on strike, is considered “persona non grata” in the USP Law School, which he is ex-principal, and more than once called the military police to repress USP students and workers manifestations.

reintegration of the USP administration building, 08/11/11

Assemblies and manifestations are taking place in Sao Paulo that ask, in short term, the exit of this incompetent dean and this repressive police from the campus. In medium and long term, we demand a renovation of the election systems of our representatives, an efficient and human security policy, that works with prevention of occurrences, and the opening of the campus to the external community, including public classes and activities.

It doesn’t end here

This is just one of our many fights in Brazil. There are more, many more, that also doesn’t receive the proper attention of the media and our governors (they have their own interests).

The revolutions in the Arab world, the Spanish 15M, the protests for education in Chile, the occupy Wall Street: we watch, admire and support this global movement of fight for democracy, freedom, respect for the human being. That you know: you have brothers in Brazil. We aren’t sleeping also, and we’ll only stop when we achieve our goals.

Freedom, solidarity, real democracy.

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