Brazil Wonders How to Educate Its Indians

Brazil’s Ministry of Education (MEC) is sponsoring a comprehensive debate on education and indigenous communities. The purpose of the seminars and public hearings that have been held around the country by the MEC’s Secretariat of Ongoing Education, Literacy Instruction, and Diversity (Secad) is to identify the progress and challenges of indigenous education.

“By making sure of education, we shall be establishing a foundation for the construction of our future, as part of the nation’s future.


This will prepare us to do research and stimulate debates on our goals and problems,” contends Iolanda dos Santos, representative of the Indian Peoples’ Coordinating Body for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Development (APOINME).

Brazil has approximately 700 thousand Indians, according to data from the 2000 Census, conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Only 0.5% of them possess university degrees.

Formal education for Indians will be discussed in Oiapoque, Amapá, tomorrow (14) and Wednesday (15). From September 23-25, the International Seminar on Higher Education and Indian Peoples will take place, in the state of Mato Grosso.

Last week the Secad organized a state seminar in Salvador. The event was attended by more than 200 people, including teachers and leaders of the 11 indigenous groups in the state of Bahia, which has an Indian population of nearly 19 thousand.


Altogether, 52 native schools in Bahia serve over 5 thousand students. Last month the debate concerned higher education for the indigenous population.


Better Food 


Students enrolled in Indian schools around the country are going to be getting a better school lunch as a result of last year’s partnership deal joining the Ministry of Food Security and Hunger Combat, and the Ministry of Education.


The partnership will increase the program budget by US$ 3.3 million (9.8 million reais) annually, practically tripling the amount spent for each student meal, from 4 cents to 11 cent (13 centavo to 34 centavos).


It will increase the number of days school lunches are served from 200 to 250. The program will also respect different eating habits of different Indian groups.

The National School Lunch Program feeds 115,000 Indian students in 1,600 schools in 275 municipalities located in 22 states.


“Changes in the way the program is managed and purchases are made will also take place,” explained Sergio Paganini, the secretary of Food Security Programs.

Agência Brasil

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