Education International
Education International

Brazil: March to strengthen public education

published 12 September 2012 updated 17 September 2012

On 5 September, over 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Brasilia and other Brazilian states under the banner: Independence equals quality education and decent work. They demanded the strengthening of public education through the approval in 2012 of the National Plan for Education.

EI's affiliate in Brazil, Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação(CNTE), organised this mass march in support of the National Plan for Education which, having overcome an attempt to scupper it, is being scrutinised by the Brazilian Senate.

The Plan incorporates two crucial demands of the Brazilian teaching profession: the investment of 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in education and the establishment of a minimum wage (Piso Salarial Nacional) for education professionals.

National minimum wage

The establishment of a national minimum wage for teachers was approved in 2008 by the government of Lula da Silva in a federal law ( Lei Nacional do Piso do Magistério). However, the law was never passed at national or municipal level. According to the CNTE, teachers from 17 of Brazil's states are poorly paid, receiving, in some cases, two-thirds of the agreed minimum wage.

10 per cent of GDP on education

The National Plan for Education also looks at approving the investment of 10 per cent of GDP in education up to 2020. To achieve this goal, the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, is championing the spending of 100 per cent of oil profits on education.

Other demands being made by the teaching profession through CNTE, include recognition of teaching as a professional career, as well as standardisation of the working day, in line with the provisions of the Lei Nacional do Piso do Magistério.

Latin American solidarity

Also marching on 5 September were delegations from Chile and Argentina, alongside representatives of EI's Latin America Regional Committee, including EI Chief Regional Coordinator, Combertty Rodríguez.

Stella Maldonado, General Secretary of Argentina’s CTERA and a member of EI's Global Executive Committee, also took part in activities to demonstrate solidarity with Brazilian teachers.

The President of the CNTE, Roberto Leão, paid tribute to what he called "a victory for the Brazilian education sector" when the lower house of parliament quashed an attempt to halt the National Plan for Education in its tracks on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

During the march, EI Vice-President, Juçara Dutra Vieira, sent a message to the Brazilian People on behalf of the more than 33 million EI affiliate members."We believe that Brazil deserves quality, inclusive public education providing each and every student with the qualifications they need to access the world of work," she stated.

She also stressed that the National Plan for Education is a key element in strengthening public education within the country.