30 Years of Confronting Illiteracy

Over the past 30 years, the MST in Bahia has decided to launch a "Campaign to Eradicate Illiteracy" in the areas of Agrarian Reform.

Conquering and building the People's Agrarian Reform also means occupying the latifundio of knowledge, recovering and valuing traditional knowledge and popularizing science.

In the course of these 30 years, the MST in Bahia decided to launch a "Campaign to Eradicate Illiteracy" in the areas of Agrarian Reform, with the aim of involving settlers, encampment occupiers, militants, leaders and, in particular, the students.

Illiteracy in Brazil

According to data pointed out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), updated in 2013, Brazil presents alarming numbers of illiterate people.

According to the institute, in this 517-year history the country still possesses 8.3% of the population is illiterate, that is, 13 million people still do not know how to read and write. "This reality is closely linked to the process of social and economic inequality," explains Eliane Kai of the MST education group in Bahia.

"Yes I Can"

In 2011, an initiative that the MST has built to oppose this reality were the classes of the "Yes, I Can" illiteracy eradication project, which uses a Cuban method of learning.

The first groups began in seven integrated areas that are part of the MST settlements and camps projects. In 2015, the graduations of 186 young people, adults and the elderly, who in three months learned to read and write were carried out.

For João Roberto, one of the students of the first group of the Settlement Bela Manhã, located in the municipality of Teixeira de Freitas, the initiative has changed lives.

"When I came in I did not know anything, because I never studied. I only knew the hoe, the sickle and the machete, but today, thank God, I am very satisfied, very happy. I already know how to write my name and I do not feel ashamed when someone asks me to sign some document. I used to put my finger on it. Today I put my name on it," he says excitedly.

At the beginning of 2016, the campaign to eradicate illiteracy expands its activities to 11 areas that are part of the team that works with the "Agroecological Settlements II" project and in 2017 they can literate 340 people.

Maria Eliete da Silva, from the Paulo Kageyama settlement in Eunápolis, believes that the months of study were a great challenge, considering that every day there were new things to learn.

"If we lost one day, we seemed to lose an eternity. What was gratifying was having been able to read a bus board and find his way without asking anyone, "says Silva.

In evaluating the whole process of formation and study, educator Celia Marques points out that the important thing is to reach the end and see the Landless workers reading and writing their own name. "No explanation, I'm just sure it's worth just being in a classroom, learning with that new look."

Other initiatives

The "Yes, I Can" is added to several other projects, which, coupled with the pedagogical method that the MST has defended throughout history, have strengthened the fight against illiteracy.
Some initiatives stand out, such as the Youth and Adult Education (EJA), the National Program for Education in Agrarian Reform (Pronera), "Foot on the Road", All for Afalbetização (TOPA) and "Heirs of the Earth".

The implementation of projects and programs has contributed to the struggle for quality education and the construction of free men and women.

By MST Communication Collective in Bahia, Da Página Nacional do MST
September 6, 2017