RIO DE JANEIRO – Hundreds of students demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro on Monday against education cuts.
The government of far right leader Jair Bolsonaro announced last week that it was slashing the public budget for universities and federal educational institutions by 30 percent in Brazil.
Scores of campaigners gathered near the Military School in the Maracana neighborhood, north of the city of Rio, where Bolsonaro participated in a commemorative event.
The demonstration took place despite strict security measures that closed the roads nearby in an attempt to prevent demonstrators from getting through.
Accompanied by parents and teachers, the students protested peacefully against the government measures.
Some carried placards reading: “Education is not spending, it is investment” and: “If we save so much in education, we will remain rich in ignorance.”
One protestor, named only as Camila, studying sociology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said: “We are here to say no to censorship, not to cuts and not to this authoritarian government.
“We want to study, we have the right to study, our universities, schools and institutes are the heritage of the Brazilian people and above any government we will fight to defend that.”
The Ministry of Education (MEC) announced the cuts last week as part of a series of measures of fiscal restriction.
First was the proposal of the Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, to cut investment for the faculties of philosophy and sociology, a measure that Bolsonaro supported by arguing that the objective was “to focus on areas that generate an immediate return to the taxpayer, such as: veterinary, engineering and medicine.”
Then came the announcement of a blockade of resources for federal universities with the argument that the measure will give priority to basic education.
And finally, there was an announcement to freeze the budget for federal schools and institutions.
Many of the students who participated in the protest study at federal school Pedro II, one of the most prestigious in the country and located opposite the military school that Bolsonaro visited on its 130 anniversary.
During the event, the Brazilian president praised military schools for the “respect, discipline and love of the country” that they promote.
“What brings a man or woman out of a difficult situation in which they find themselves is knowledge,” he said.
“We want more children and young people studying in these schools.”