BRASILIA, Brazil, February 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced plans last week to revise textbooks in public schools and eliminate references to homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” and violence against women.
There are also proposals to give the military control of some public schools. Once Bolsonaro took office, the Ministry of Education issued new guidelines for textbook publishers that erased references to gender ideology and sexism. The ministry also eliminated its diversity department.
On the eve of his Jan. 1 inauguration, Bolsonaro tweeted his intentions. “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.” Education Minister Ricardo Velez Rodriguez vowed in his inaugural speech to end the “aggressive promotion of the gender ideology.”
In a poll published Jan. 8 by Datafolha, 59 percent of evangelical Christians said they did not approve of sex education being discussed at school. The poll, conducted Dec. 18-19, was based on 2,077 interviews. Conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians are a key supporters of the Bolsonaro government.
Bolsonaro is already feeling some pushbackfrom Brazil’s teachers unions, who resent the president’s opposition to the legacy of leftist Paulo Freire, whose books and philosophy about education have been influential around the world. Freire, who died in 1997, was a founder of critical pedagogy. His work has been criticized for challenging traditional institutions, such as church and family, that intermediate between the state and individuals. Critical pedagogy asserts that teaching is inherently political and that the goal of education is political action and social critique.
During Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign last year, he said he wanted to go into “the Ministry of Education with a flamethrower to remove Paulo Freire.” As inspiration for reforming education, Bolsonaro appears to be relying on a U.S.-based Brazilian Olavo de Carvalho, who is known for opposing socialism.