On November 9, 2015, public school students in São Paulo State started a movement to occupy their schools protesting against the planned closure of around 94 schools, a measure proposed by the state governor Geraldo Alckmin. Since then the students’ movement has grown, with more than 200 schools currently occupied.
Announced by São Paulo State administration in September, the government proposal would affect 311,000 students and their families; and 74,000 teachers in 1,464 schools. According to the Secretary of Education Herman Voorwald, the proposal is based on a number of studies and statistical data with the goal of improving the quality of education. The main idea is to reduce the complexity of school administration by separating schools in the three educational levels: “Ensino Fundamental I”, related to “elementary school” (ages 6 to 10), “Ensino Fundamental II”, related to “middle school” (ages 11 to 14) and “Ensino secundário”, related to “high school” (ages 15 to 17).
Starting on October 6, students in São Paulo have been demonstrating in order to push the São Paulo educational administration into making the details of the proposal public. Protests intensified starting on October 25, when the educational administration announced the closure of 94 schools, although the original plan was to close more than 200 schools. The fate of these schools is unknown.
On November 10, student activists occupied 2 schools, Fernão Dias Public School and Diadema Public School. The following day the educational administration announced itsr willingness to negotiate with the activists. However, negotiations failed when the students didn’t accept the requirement that they leave the schools before going to the Secretary of Education office. Instead, they asked the government representatives to come to the schools to negotiate. Shortly afterwards, the government ordered the military police to evict the occupants of the Fernão Dias Public School. However, a judicial order prevented the police from entering the school. According to the judge, the student activists’ occupation is a public policy issue and there is no threat that justifies police action.
After these facts, students from other schools in the state of São Paulo also occupied their schools and in three weeks more than 200 schools were occupied. Most of the occupied schools are in poor neighborhoods.
In the occupied schools, students are busy organizing alternative classes with volunteer teachers, lectures on various social issues, cultural activities and also maintenance work like cleaning the places. A great example of self-organization. The student activists have secured the support of parents, educators, journalists, lawyers and left parties.
All forms of dialogue and struggle were used, like meetings with education leaders, petitions, marches and even brief occupations of public buildings. However, the government makes it clear that it is not open to negotiations on the “reorganisation” of the schools.
The students resistance to the “education reform” is spreading everywhere. Public schools will suffer even more if the state government manages to succeed in its plans. The students must put an end to all the government’s plans, and be ready for the battle. Right now, more than 200 public schools are under the control of the students and their demand is: end the “educational reorganisation” process!
Against the restructuring, lets occupy the schools!
For public and quality education!