We, the undersigned, an international group of artists, arts educators, activists, students and people gathered on the occasion of the event Permeable Practices-Curating and Education of the 32nd Bienal of São Paulo and Another Roadmap School stand in solidarity with the high school students (secundaristas) of Brazil in their occupation of their schools in protest against their government´s proposal to reform secondary education and to amend the constitution in such a way that will decrease social rights, including education.
We find inspiration in the actions they have taken to care for their schools through their occupations, by re-organising school infrastructures, painting the walls, making assemblies, cooking together, programming their own education, debating the possibilities for future policies and their own learning while re-making these spaces that are truly theirs. In occupying their schools students claim back the right to make decisions about their lives, take control of their learning and demand the right to be listened to. This right should be unquestionable.
We stand with the students in their right to protest and against their persecution and criminalization.
We accept the invitation they make to be listened to and take the time to think about the questions: who owns the school? and to whom does it belong?
We draw a strong link between their ´leaderless/leaderfull´ form of self- organization and those of students currently protesting in the #FeesMustFall movement in South Africa, also fighting for their right to protest. Both efforts have been met with heavy handed responses from the state and its executive bodies. These responses include intimidation, imprisonment, and physical harm in the place of ideas and debate.
Students in Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere are part of a global struggle against the increasing neo-liberalism, austerity and privatization of education, and the irresponsibility of the state, media, private corporations and other oppressive forces in repressing the action of citizens.
As a network of global arts educators we represent institutions and individuals in Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Lesotho, Mexico, Rwanda, Switzerland, South Africa, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe we call for global support for their actions without criminalisation or intimidation.
Please sign the letter to demand the State of Brazil respect their right to occupy.
- The Another Roadmap School -
Note: This week in Brazil [from Oct 24th to 28th], the Brazilian Union of Secondary Students has reported 1197 occupied schools in Brazil in response to reforms of the high school curriculum organization but also to the so called “escola sem partido” or “schools without political parties,” which wants to forbid political discourse in the classroom. A year ago, in the state of Paraná – where 843 of the occupied schools are located – teachers filled the streets in protest against changes to their pension plans. Their protest was met with violence from the state, with over 100 teachers injured <http://reut.rs/2eSgV4e> Scenes of teachers being beaten by police sent shockwaves around the country and laid the groundwork for the occupation movement. While students began occupations in protest over government policies, the movement has been increasingly arguing for the rights of students to have more control over schools and education policy more broadly debate. Last week, the controversial Constitutional amendment, PEC 241 – which puts a ceiling on government funding for education and a 20-year freeze on educational expenditure, among other things – passed through lower house of Congress. A video with a young woman appealing to the parliament of Paraná has now gone viral, but it must ben noted that hers is a voice among many. The movement involves many students and leaders and does not have a centralised or hierarchical formation.