President Jair Bolsonaro is taking his anti-leftist ideological war to Brazil’s classrooms and universities, causing angst among teachers and education officials who say the government wants to fight an enemy that doesn’t exist.
Bolsonaro and top officials have announced plans to revise textbooks to excise references to feminism, homosexuality and violence against women, say the military will take over some public schools and frequently bash Paulo Freire, one of Brazil’s most famous educators, whose ideas had worldwide influence.
“One of the goals to get Brazil out of the worst positions in international education rankings is to combat the Marxist rubbish that has spread in educational institutions,” Bolsonaro tweeted on the eve of his inauguration.
Bolsonaro and his education minister appear to be looking for inspiration in philosophers like Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian who lives in the U.S. and is known for his anti-globalism and anti-socialist
After Bolsonaro took office Jan. 1, the Education Ministry dismantled its diversity department and published a new set of guidelines for textbook publishers that eliminated references to topics such as violence against women and sexism.
Many Brazilians don’t appear convinced by Bolsonaro’s plans.