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Students protest in Brazil against Bolsonaro’s cuts in higher education

Following the Brazilian government’s plan to cut funds for faculties of humanities earlier this year (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, May 2019), Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, continued to threaten education and public universities. In July 2019, the federal government announced a further cut in education amounting to R$ 348 million (EUR 80 million), thus sparking another wave of protests across the country.

In mid-August, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, citing the National Student Union (UNE), reported that around 900 000 protesters took to the streets in “204 cities, squares, and university campuses”, slightly fewer than in the May protests. The major cities affected by the protests were Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, and Recife, among others. Protestors, many of which were university and doctoral students, mainly criticise the increasing and transversal cuts from primary schools to higher education and the Future-se programme which encourages to open public universities to private investments. Demonstrators also raised their voice against the decision of the Brazilian Ministry of Education to “block all forthcoming scholarships for master's and doctoral students” and called for respect for and the defence of public universities.