Following in São Paulo's Footsteps, Brazilian Students in Goiás Are Occupying Their Schools Too

Photo by Jornal A Verdade.

Students hang a banner on the fence of one of the occupied schools in Goiás state. Photo by Jornal A Verdade.

Students from the central-western Brazilian state of Goiás decided to take a cue from São Paulo, whose students occupied almost 200 schools and ended up stopping a reorganization plan that would close 94 of them.

In Goiás, students are protesting against a government plan to hand over schools’ management to private organizations and the country's military police. In Brazil, several public secondary schools are managed by the armed forces or the police, a so-called ‘militarization’ policy that has long been criticized by some educators. In September, the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report on Brazil showing concerns over the the wide presence of the private and military sector in the country's basic education system.

So far, students have occupied 23 schools across the state and a collaborative map has been set up to monitor the movement.

Alternative news agency Democratize noted that:

Os alunos das escolas ocupadas em Goiás admitem se inspirar na luta dos secundaristas paulistas, que no final acabaram conseguindo conquistar uma vitória parcial sobre o projeto de reorganização do ensino, já que o governador Geraldo Alckimin (PSDB) recuou com o projeto, adiando sua aplicação para 2017 — o que explica a continuidade de algumas escolas ocupadas no estado e também a série de protestos que continuam a acontecer na capital paulista.

The students occupying schools in Goiás admit that they found inspiration in the struggle of São Paulo high school students, which in the end managed to win a partial victory over the school reorganization project, since São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckimin (of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party) backtracked on the project, postponing its application until 2017 — which explains the continuity of some schools occupations in the state and also the series of protests that continue to take place in São Paulo.

So far, Goiás Governor Marconi Perillo — from the same party as São Paulo's current government — has shown little disposition for dialogue. On December 15, he declared authorities will file a criminal suit against some of the leaders of the movements. He claims they were “recruited by unions and political parties from other states”.

The occupation movement is most strong in the state capital Goiânia, but according to the Facebook profile Desneuralizador, it is gradually spreading to the interior of the state. Some teachers have demonstrated in support of the students.

Students denounced aggression from the military police in the cities of Aparecida de Goiás and Anápolís. In a video posted by Facebook page Não Fechem Minha Escola (Don't Close My School), state employees cut the water supply of an occupied school to force them out of the building.


O governador Perillo de Goiás está usando as mesmas armas que o governador Alckmin usou em São Paulo – Intimidação, manipulação da mídia e sabotagem. Cortar água das escolas ocupadas é uma violação aos direitos humanos e ao estatuto da criança e do adolescente! O que vemos no vídeo é absurdo e criminoso.



The governor of Goias, [Marconi] Perillo, is using the same weapons that Governor [Geraldo] Alckmin used in São Paulo — intimidation, media manipulation and sabotage. Cutting the water off at occupied schools is a violation of human rights and the child and adolescent statute [in Brazilian law]! What we see in the video is absurd and criminal.


Screenshot from a Facebook video allegedly showing state employees shutting off the water supply to an occupied school. Click the image to watch the video on the Facebook page Não Fechem Minha Escola.

Screenshot from a Facebook video allegedly showing state employees shutting off the water supply to an occupied school. Click the image to watch the video on the Facebook page Não Fechem Minha Escola.

Like in São Paulo, students are calling on citizens to donate food and maintenance supplies, as well as classes and cultural activities to help to keep up the good spirits in the schools. They are also organizing discussions on the effects of the privatization of education, sometimes inviting members of the community from outside the schools. They are also cleaning the schools and denouncing the precarious situation of some of the facilities.

Students cleaning occupied state school Ismael Silva, in Goias state capital Goiania.

Students cleaning occupied state school Ismael Silva, in Goias state capital Goiania. From the “Secundaristas em Luta – GO” Facebook page.

In an article for the New York Times, Pablo Ortellano, a teacher, considered the occupy movements of São Paulo, Goiás and also Espírito Santo somewhat of a continuation of the June 2013 demonstrations that took millions to the streets all over Brazil. Mauricio Caleiro, also a teacher, noted on his Facebook:

Assim como vivenciado em São Paulo em reação ao fechamento de escolas – que Alckimin tentou impor à força -, os estudantes de Goiás reagem à tentativa autoritária de privatização e militarização do ensino público.
Mais uma evidência de que há vida inteligente e disposição para a luta política entre parcelas da juventude, exemplo para a UNE e demais entidades pelegas, que hoje negam sua história, se transformando em mera corrente de transmissão do governo federal;
O espírito de combate que animou 2013 mantém-se vivo.

As experienced in São Paulo in relation to school closures — which Alckimin tried to impose by force — students of Goiás react to authoritarian attempts at privatization and militarization of public education.

Further evidence that there is intelligent life and willingness for political struggle among youth movements, an example for the UNE [student organization with little relevance nowadays] and other failed entities, which now deny its history, turning into mere chain of transmission of the federal government.

The fighting spirit that animated 2013 remains alive.

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