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  • Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (C) and other Workers' Party leaders demand the release of Lula in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jul 9, 2018.

    Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (C) and other Workers' Party leaders demand the release of Lula in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jul 9, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 May 2019

Brazil's academics will join the May 15 naitonwide workers' to protest social spending cuts and pension reforms.

Brazilian scientists and students are being forced to emigrate in search of funding for research and studies after far-right President Jair Bolsonaro announced major cuts to the public higher education system last week.

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"Scientists are no longer leaving the country by choice but because it is the only chance to continue doing their job. Brazil does not regard education and science as priorities," said Helena Nader, member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, adding that "the new government's declarations of contempt for science" make the situation even worse.

The Brazilian academic community protested twice last week after the Bolsonaro administration announced it will "block" 30 percent of the national budget to federal universities and research institutes that was already allocated for this year. This would amount to an immediate cut to 3,400 scholarships, according to local media Revista Forum.

Over the past five years, the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes) lost 24.4 percent of its resources, a trend deepened by former President Michael Temer (2016-2018) who took over the post in a parliamentary coup d'état of President Dilma Rousseff. 

"Do not forget, May 15, nationwide strike in defense of education in Brazil." The meme reads: "Marielle, Free Lula, Education, Step aside Bolsonaro."​​​​​

Rousseff responded to the budget 'blockade' by saying that Bolsonaro's attacks on the education system must be stopped with social mobilization.

"All Brazilian citizens should support this struggle, which represents the defense of our future with democracy, diversity and prosperity," she said.

Rousseff said that her Workers' Party's commitment to education was strategically to, "overcome misery and poverty," to create a knowledge economy that develops technology and innovations and strengthen culture.

In early May, Bolsonaro also announced a 30 percent budget cut to resources assigned to universities and reseach centers, a decision that directly affects the local production of science, technology and innovation.​​​​​​​

"Brazil's current situation is sad, we have to prove the value of education. Let’s go to the streets May 15 for a nationwide strike against budget cuts. Let’s defend our rights.”

On her website, Rouseff said the university-level budget cuts will reduce the quantity and quality of well-trained teachers for the the elementary, middle and technical education institutions.

"Scrapping universities implies the dismantling of the entire educational system. There is no possibility of developing basic science without the universities, without their researchers and teachers, without students and scholars," she explained.

This is why ex President Rousseff supports the nationwide strike convened by the country's main trade union centers.

"On May 15, the National Day of Struggle, the mobilization against the pension reform will have the academic community articulating resistance to the Bolsonaro government," she said.​​​​​​​

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