OPINION : Social education and violence in current Brazil

Verônica Müller is the president of Maringá city’s social educators’ association (AESMAR) and the vice-president of the Brazilian association of social education and learning (EDUSOBRASIL). Member of Dynamo International Street Workers Network (DISWN), she gives her opinion of the current political situation in Brazil and how it affects social educators.
In Brazil, social education isn’t recognized as one of the country’s official professions established in the Professional Code. Yet the law requires the presence of social educators in many fields of social assistance system (prisons, child care institutions, etc…) Because there is no recognition of their work nor any official Code of Conduct for social educators, the institutions hire them for various tasks, according to their own beliefs. Moreover, they generally demand a sole technical education (rather than an university degree) in order to pay them less.
When it comes to social education, our action wishes to create rules to regulate what the profession is about. We are also fighting for university courses that would be dedicated to social education within public universities. Meanwhile, we are resisting and trying as hard as we can to leave a moral legacy we will not be ashamed of.
The current situation in Brazil is a nightmare that no political scientist – from any side – could have predicted.
The inauguration of President Bolsonaro was held in January 2019 and from the beginning of his presidential term, his decisions were a source of indignation for millions of Brazilians. Thus, they are :
Anti-democratic :
For example, he stated that he would be the one naming the rectors, vice-rectors and directors of each public Federal university, while this decision was previously voted amongst those universities’ teachers and staff.
He also wants to reform the pension system, a measure that might leave many retired workers with an unfair retribution of the hard work they’ve been doing for years. Furthermore, he wants to set up a class room control system and for that, he encourages students to record and/or videotape any professor giving any opinion on the program he or she is teaching. This was a campaign promise made by Movimiento Brasil Libre – MBL, a mediocre organization, that hasn’t been able to win any political debate but still has many supporters.
At the university where I work, a student took a picture of a teacher explaining the history of public health in Brazil without telling him. At some point, the teacher mentionned President Lula’s administration. The picture gained a huge notoriety on social media because people accused the teacher of promoting left-wing ideas.
Anti national development :
The government sold many public energy companies to foreign private corporations, for instance. On the other hand, he made cuts in the budgets dedicated to the development of science and technologies while also reducing by 30% public universities’ fundings (several universities have asserted that they only have funds to cover up until August). The Temer Administration, that was previously in charge, has voted a law that Bolsonaro is keeping in order to freeze the investments on education, health and social assistance for the next 20 years ! Many programs and projects are shot down… Leading us to think that what he really wants is :
Extermination of poor people and political leaders :
There is already a discussion amongst scholars and the media about the existence within this administration of “necropolicies” – policies that aims to let the least profitable people die. It seems obvious for example when the access to medicine or vaccines against rare diseases – that used to be available in public service outlets – is getting harder and harder. Moreover, we are currently witnessing a resurgence of diseases such as measles, yellow fever and many others. Also, last winter, the Governor of Sao Paulo state, who happens to be one Bolsonaro’s supporters, commanded to take way the blankets from homeless peole sleeping in the streets. Additionnally, the president has decided to deport all the foreign doctors working in Brazil, leaving thousands of citizens with no medical care.
I think it is very important to highlight the fact that he is not only letting also these people die, he is also promoting the death of political leaders (more than 100 every year), native populations, Black people, queer and/or transgender people and democratically elected representatives (counselors, congress men and women, etc…). Those people are also under the threat of ideas defended by some scientists, in favor of laws restricting abortion rights for example, making it possible only under certain conditions. The figure of the political exile, sometimes forced to leave his country because of death threats is back, the most famous one being the former President Lula himself who is detained without any tangible proog of his guilt, according to several high qualified lawayers. In addition to this, the police now has the right to kill people and ordinary citizens are allowed to easily possess 4 different types of weapons.
There is an industrialization of fear and insecurity meanwhile unemployment and informal work are increasing. It is a violent administration that encourages violent behaviours. I witnessed myself the murder of a young man, killed by 6 gunshots while I was sitting at a bar at 9 PM.
In short, President Bolsonaro is implementing dehumanizing, sectarian and dangerous policies, suitable for the army he is close to, but not for most people in Brazil. Brazilian businessmen might not like it, but President Trump and a large part of the Israeli government sure will.
In this context, us, social educators, won’t keep ou mouths shut and are determined to fight against the lowering of criminal age, the lack of fundings and the mediocre working conditions within the institutions that welcome children and youth, people suffering from addictions, etc… We’re speaking up against the return of a philosophy that punishes poors, Black people, indigeneous people, homosexuals. We’ll be fighting in many different ways. Our president has just annonced that he is in favor of child labour. In response, we are writing letters, organizing protests, asking for law proposals or rewriting others, require public auditions, writing press articles and publications, building networks, etc…
Social education professionnals are important in such difficult times when they join every network possible fighting for education in general. The democratic forces all over the world are needed to bring social justice back not only in Brazil but also in many countries from southern, central and northern America.
*All the information feeding the analysis and the comments made in this article are available on the internet, in Portuguese for the most part.