Brazil: Condemning the presidential veto of Bill C 5954-2013 on indigenous education

educació indígena brasilOn December 29, 2015, the Civil Office of the President of the Republic of Brazil sent the Brazilian Senate message number 600, entirely vetoing the Proposed Bill n.5954, 2013 (No. 186 of 2008 in the Senate), which had been previously approved by the National Congress, after hearing the Ministry of Education (MEC) and the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Administration (MPOG). The Bill was considered contrary to public interest.

Based on the premise stated in Brazilian law that indigenous schooling should be differentiated, the Bill was proposed in 2008 by Senator Cristovam Buarque and complemented before the Senate by Senator Fatima Celeide. The Bill was meant to improve Article 79 of the Guidelines and Bases of National Education Law (LDB), establishing that the educational evaluation process must respect the cultural particularities of indigenous communities. It also proposed to extend the right of indigenous communities to use their mother tongues and their own learning processes, beyond elementary and middle school, into the entirety of the Basic Education cycle. After analyzing the Bill, Senator Valdir Raupp proposed to expand the right to the use of mother tongues and indigenous learning methods also for vocational education and higher education. After moving through National Congress for more than 7 years, being assessed in numerous legislative committees, the Bill was sent to the Brazilian President, in early December 2015.

Rather than ratify the expressed will of deputies and senators, as well as broad sectors of civil society, thus fulfilling the expectations that Brazil remain in the global movement of defense of the indigenous right to linguistic diversity and a genuinely differentiated school education, the government veto signals a step backwards and the disrespect of guarantees that seemed indisputable.

More than 150 indigenous languages survive in Brazil in varying degrees of vitality, a heritage of immeasurable value, constantly threatened by a homogenizing and assimilating educational system, by the prejudices of the surrounding society, and by the monolingualism and monoculturalism that characterizes much of the Brazilian states.

Linguapax International is associated with Brazilian governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations that have expressed vehement repudiation of the veto, warning of the danger of Brazil ceasing to be at the forefront of the international movement in defense of linguistic diversity, and descending to the level of those who wish to annihilate minorities accused of being an obstacle to the kind of development that ignores, humiliates and destroys people and ways of living and expressing themselves.