Brazilian Students Protest “Austerity” Cuts to Education

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In October 2019, millions of Brazilian students and teachers took to the streets to protest another round of budget and wage cuts to the nation’s Department of Education. Miguel Andrade, writing for the World Socialist Web Site, reported that over 25,000 Brazilian students answered the calls from the Brazilian Teachers’ Union as they congregated for two days in the streets of major cities, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, to oppose cuts to education.

Andrade documented that protesters targeted worsening problems, including the nation’s increasing austerity, the “string of political interventions in the elections of new deans across federal institutions,” and the censorship of books, movies and plays.

His report put the most recent student protests in context, noting that a thirty percent cut in the federal education budget and threats from Brazil’s far-right Education Minister, Abraham Weintraub, to “cut funding for universities” had spurred previous protests in May 2019.

In October, demonstrators took to streets after the government declared a 25 percent cut in its education budget for 2020, as well as a fifty percent cut in funds for CAPES, the agency responsible for stipends that support at least 215,000 graduate students and researchers.

Education cuts have had serious impacts on Brazil’s schools. As Andrade reported, sixty of the nation’s higher learning institutions “are behind on their gas and electricity bills” and have been forced to reduce classes, work hours at laboratories, and food services.

Unfortunately, Andrade wrote, “Demonstrations against education cuts are being subordinated to the chauvinistic aims of defending Brazilian companies and the country’s ‘technological leverage’ in fields like oil production, agriculture and even arms production.”

Corporate media coverage of student protests in Brazil has been relatively poor. In November 2019, for example, the New York Times reported that “Brazil Launches Job Program Amid Mass Unemployment,” but its coverage failed to address the role that education cuts have played in leading to unemployment and catalyzing widespread public protest.

Source: Miguel Andrade, “Brazilian Unions Push ‘Green and Yellow’ Chauvinism in Education Strike against Austerity, Political Interference,” World Socialist Web Site, October 9, 2019,

Student Researchers: Jonathan Melideo and Ryan Silk (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)