Brazilian coup government attacks education, students protest

This video says about itself:

Brazil: Police clash with marching students in Sao Paulo

11 August 2016

Students clashed with police after taking to the streets of Sao Paulo, Thursday, to protest against government reforms to the public education system. Police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters.

The students marched along Avenida Consolacao and could be seen writing graffiti along the walls against the interim-President Michel Temer.

Local media reported that a minor was arrested but that the demonstration was otherwise peaceful.

By Gabriel Lemos:

Brazilian students return to the streets over classroom censorship laws

26 August 2016

On August 11, national Student Day, Brazilian secondary students took to the streets of four state capitals in protest against cuts in education and a series of “Schools Without Parties” bills, the latest attack on public education in Brazil.

Mixing conservative Christian ideology and anti-communism, these bills have already been presented, but not yet approved, in more than 20 city and state legislatures as well as in the national Congress. Promoted mainly by Christian caucuses, they are meant to fight a supposed “ideological and political indoctrination” by left-wing teachers alleged to have taken place during the 13 years of Workers Party (PT) control of the national government. They are also justified in the name of defending “the religious convictions of the students’ families.”

If approved, the laws would allow for suspending and even firing public school teachers for teaching anything from history to evolution to sex education, based on charges filed by “offended” parents with education “ombudsmen”.

The largest demonstration, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, was harshly repressed by the Military Police. Before the demonstration started, when the students were still arriving at the meeting point, downtown’s Roosevelt Square, the Military Police used tear gas and pepper spray to intimidate and disperse the students, detaining three underage youth who were charged with contempt for law enforcement. After later allowing the march to proceed for a few blocks, the police finally dispersed it with tear gas.

This is however only the latest of a series of demonstrations since the aggravation of the economic crisis in the country. In Brazil, as elsewhere internationally, the cuts to the education budget are part of a broader program of attacks on the working class.

The interim government of president Michel Temer (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party—PMDB) promises to intensify the cuts in education even further. In his first 100 days in office, Temer has already gotten the lower house of the national legislature to approve two constitutional amendments that will impose even more sweeping reductions in the education budget. First, on June 8, an amendment was approved to the so-called “Divestment of the Union’s Revenues” articles of the constitution, allowing the federal government to divert constitutionally-mandated spending from several areas, increasing the total portion of the budget that can be diverted to 30 percent until 2023. This will reduce the education budget from the current 18 percent to 12.6 percent of the already contracting federal budget, and further imply a slashing of local-level education budgets from 25 percent to 17.5 percent of total local spending.

Then, on August 10, a bill was approved which restructures the states’ debts to the federal government, and will limit any increase in spending to the level of the previous year’s inflation for the next two years. Economists estimate that, if the rule had been in place since 2006, education would now be receiving only 30 percent of the current funding.

These cuts in education occur amidst an increasing deterioration of the Brazilian public schools and worsening of teachers’ working conditions. A study released in 2013 by researchers of Santa Catarina Federal University showed that 84 percent of Brazilian schools still don’t have either library, laboratory or sport facilities. Another report released in 2014 by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that among its 34 member countries, Brazilian teachers are second only to their Chilean counterparts in terms of the number of hours spent teaching. At the same time, Brazilian teachers receive just 55 percent of higher education professionals’ salaries, and 41 percent of them work extra hours to make up for their low monthly income.

With low wages and extended working hours, Brazilian teachers are increasingly getting sick and leaving the classroom. In the state of Sao Paulo, the richest and most industrialized in the country, 372 teachers take medical leaves a day, almost 30 percent of them due to mental and behavioral disorders. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of teachers working in alternate functions other than teaching on medical advice increased 24 percent, and last year 172 teachers a month gave up their careers in Sao Paulo public schools.

The teachers’ answer to their poor working conditions since last year has been a series of the longest strikes in the history of the Brazilian education system. In 2015, in a 44-day strike against pension cuts, teachers from Paraná made worldwide headlines for being brutally repressed by the military police with tear gas bombs and rubber bullets that left more than 200 wounded. Then, Sao Paulo’s teachers held their longest ever strike, for 92 days, followed by the teachers from the inland state of Goias, in an almost three-month long strike. In the first semester of this year, teachers held a 110-day strike in the state of Rio de Janeiro, went out for 53 days in Rio Grande do Sul and another 107 in the northeastern state of Ceará. In none of these strikes did they succeed in preventing wage and pension cuts.

In the last three states, moreover, the teachers’ strike was accompanied by wildcat school occupations by high school and even middle school students, many aged as young as 12, with 52 schools occupied in Ceará, 73 in Rio de Janeiro and 186 in Rio Grande do Sul. In Rio de Janeiro, the students’ schools occupations and the teachers’ strikes had minor gains in ending the state’s standardized testing system and initiating long-promised elections for school principals.

These occupations followed the 196 wildcat school occupations by students in São Paulo at the end of last year, which led the governor Geraldo Alckmin (Brazilian Social Democracy Party—PSDB) to suspend the closure of 94 public schools. Many of those students this year once again occupied their schools against the cuts to the education budget at the state level and the lack of school meals in 45 percent of São Paulo’s industrial-training schools. Now they are being brought back into struggle against the “School Without Parties” bills.

The teachers’ strikes, the students’ schools occupations and the demonstrations all over Brazil show, unequivocally, the willingness to fight on the part of both teachers and students.

Schoolchildren learn at botanical garden, natural history museum

This 29 March 2019 Dutch video is about school children in Leiden city, the Netherlands. The video shows how they learn in the local botanical garden and local museums, especially Naturalis museum.

Curaçao musicians start conservatory

This is a video series about Curaçao music.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Curaçao will get a conservatory. A number of leading musicians in Curaçao has joined hands with the University of Curaçao. The aim is to offer next academic year two four year undergraduate courses.

One is focused on training music teachers. The other program offers the opportunity to become a professional musician, including guitar, piano, percussion, brass instruments, woodwind instruments and vocals.

Randal Corson is a pianist, composer and former professor at three conservatories in the Netherlands. He teamed up with guitarist Cedric Dandaré, bassist Eric Calmes and singer Maria Sosa to initiate a conservatory on the island. ….

Curaçao has a glaring shortage of music teachers. “My old teacher, already over eighty, still teaches. But most schools do nothing about music. If you invest in that, talent will grow”, says Corsen.

“Therefore it is important that the academy provides training to become a music teacher. They can then teach in elementary schools.” …

Music scene

A conservatory can be a huge incentive for the various music venues on the island, thinks Corsen. “Remember that musicians have to survive on the island. They are forced to work commercially. This is at the expense of the cultural quality.”

German Liebknecht’s anti-World War I speech

This video says about itself:

14 January 2016

On the 15th January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were killed by members of the [extreme right paramilitary] Freikorps. The two German socialists were joint-founders of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany, and were captured following the Spartacist uprising that began on the 4th January.

Luxemburg and Liebknecht were members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany when Germany declared war in 1914. Frustrated by the wider SPD’s support for Germany’s declaration of war, they and other leftists created a separate organisation known as the Spartakusbund or Spartacus League. Named after the leader of the Roman Republic’s largest slave rebellion, the Spartacus League actively opposed the ongoing war. In 1916, both Luxemburg and Liebknecht were found guilty of high treason and imprisoned after they organised an anti-war demonstration.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 14 March 2016:

100 years ago: German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht denounces militarization of education

On March 18, 1916, Karl Liebknecht, the German revolutionary socialist and opponent of World War I, delivered a series of remarks in the German Reichstag, or parliament, denouncing the militarization of education and the glorification of war taking place in schools across the country. Liebknecht’s speech was one of a series in which he defied the Social Democratic majority, which had betrayed socialist internationalism by supporting the German war effort, and spoke out against the imperialist slaughter.

Liebknecht stated, “The ideal of classical education lies in the spirit of independence and humanity.” Addressing the government, and all of the pro-war parties, he said, “Your ideal of classical education is the ideal of the bayonet, of the bombshell, of poison gas and grenades, which are hurled down on peaceful cities, and the ideal of submarine warfare.”

He declared, “The higher schools are also used as practical helpers in the service of the present war. A systematic propaganda is conducted in them for the war loans, and gold is collected in them. … The schools are converted into training stables for the war. The physical upbuilding of the youth is encouraged now to attract new material for the Moloch, Militarism. Strengthening especially human health has thus as its aim the destruction of human life.”

He denounced the war propaganda promoted in schools, which focused exclusively on the crimes committed by Britain, France and the other Allied powers, and painted the actions of German imperialism in the brightest colors.

“In school must be taught, how this war arose, not only that the abominable murder of Sarajevo was an incident to inspire horror, but also the fact that the crime of Sarajevo was looked upon in many circles as a gift from Heaven, serving them as a war pretext,” he said. His reference to the fact that sections of the ruling elite had welcomed the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist, seeing it as an opportunity to launch longstanding military plans, provoked outraged howls from the Conservative and opportunist Social Democratic deputies to the Reichstag.

Amid repeated interruptions, Liebknecht concluded with a call for a revolutionary struggle against the German government and the imperialist war, declaring, “To action! Those in the trenches, as well as those here at home, should put down their arms and turn against the common enemy, which takes from them light and air.” The president of the Reichstag called Liebknecht “to order” for the third time, and asked the deputies whether he should be allowed to continue to speak. Only a handful of socialist opponents of the war voted in favor.