RIO DE JANEIRO – More than 1,000 educational institutions across Brazil remained under student occupation on Thursday in a protest against the agenda of President Michel Temer, who took power Aug. 31 after Congress ousted elected head of state Dilma Rousseff.
The occupations began early this month in the southern state of Parana, where the school system was “abandoned by the government,” the head of the UBES high school students organization, Camila Lanes, told EFE.
The protest has spread to more than 1,000 high schools and 102 university campuses, as well as to the seat of the municipal legislature in Guarulhos, a city of 1.3 million residents in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area.
Students demand that Temer withdraw a proposed constitutional amendment to impose strict limits on public spending for the next 20 years.
The measure, which has already been approved in the lower house of Congress, would effectively freeze investment in education, according to critics.
Students also want the repeal of a decree Temer issued last month that made substantial changes to school curricula without any input from teachers.
“The decree is an action conceived to make education into a product, to have the student learn how to turn a screw and be useful to the market, but does not propose a quality education,” Lanes said.
Police arrested 26 students – 11 of them minors – on Thursday when they evicted occupiers from a school in the northern state of Tocantins, according to UBES.
Education Minister Jose Mendonça Bezerra has given the occupiers until next Monday to end the protest or see the cancelation of nationwide university-entrance exams scheduled for Nov. 1.
Since becoming president, Temer has pursued an agenda well to the right of the policies of Rousseff, who was re-elected to a second term in October 2014.
Brazil’s first woman president was impeached and ultimately removed from office over alleged budget irregularities.