Bolsonaro manipulates history by rewriting textbooks


23 November 2021

On November 21, more than 2 million university students attended the first day of the Enem, the national examination of the Brazilian high school. However, those 2 million represented only 74% of students enrolled – the lowest number in over 15 years, mainly due to educational inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic. As in previous years, the Bolsonaro administration has once again allegedly censored content considered “controversial”.

However, the subjects on which Bolsonaro wanted to interfere are not controversial: he perhaps asked to change, for example, the word “coup” concerning the beginning of the dictatorship from 1964 to 1985 in “revolution” , but understanding that military forces were carrying out a coup is not a matter of opinion, historians argue.

As of 2019, issues referring to dictatorships have not appeared in exams, and there are recordings of other censored subjects, most of which have been deleted for alleged “unnecessary polemics” or “historical decontextualization”. This year, Brazilian journalist Leonardo Sakamoto compared Bolsonaro’s “crusade” to George Orwell’s dystopian creation in the book 1984: “He wants to control the present to control the past and control the past to control the future, as that Big Brother creator wrote, “the columnist said in an opinion piece.” No wonder Bolsonaro celebrated that the Enem The test is to get “the face of government”, that is, to march – in his opinion – to be an instrument of its culture war. ”

In the end, as El País reported, the exams turned out to be at least partially untouched. Despite the absence of some topics, there were questions on other controversial topics – at least for this conservative administration – like racism, indigenous peoples and the eroticization of women’s bodies, besides a question about Friedrich Engels which , together with Karl Marx, wrote ‘The Manifesto of Communism’.

What happened during this Enem is just a window into the threat facing education in Brazil. A movement called “Escola sem Partido“(School Without a Party) tried to remove content considered political from the basic curriculum – like communism. It turns out, however, that these topics are mostly historical facts and dropping them can create a education that lacks basic knowledge.

This movement, to be fair, was not created by Bolsonaro, although he has been its biggest supporter in recent years. Recently, numerous bills have been introduced in local legislative chambers to formalize this censorship of education – usually including lines to also prohibit teaching of subjects related to gender and sexuality.

In the majority of cases, the Supreme Court was able to stop its effective implementation. Nevertheless, this movement, strongly based on religion, was able to slowly gain the support of some teachers and educators, as some surveys underline, who hesitate to teach sex education, for example, or to evoke LGBTQ + communities. for their students.

Thus, urgent and generalized measures must be taken to preserve integral education in Brazil, before an entire generation of students graduates without the knowledge necessary to be citizens and professionals who contribute to an inclusive and founded society. on science.

Image by: Ivan Aleksic

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