Battle of Ideas: 2015 The Year of Political Education

To train for struggle and for life. Besides engaging in struggle, the MST believes that to build a more just society, the activists and the base must study. So 2015 will be the year of the political education of the Movement and the battle of ideas.

In the view of Geraldo Gasparin, from the MST training sector, political education fulfills an important task for the organization. In each historical moment, it creates the subjective conditions for the Movement to meet its goals.

Teacher training course in the 80s, in Rio Grande do Sul

"Political education has always been a priority for the MST throughout its history. It creates conditions for human emancipation, political and ideological autonomy," said Gerard.

It is no accident that in 2015 milestones are celebrated that demonstrate the importance that the Movement gives to the process of political education.

Twenty years of the Institute of Education Josué de Castro (IEJC), better known as ITERRA, is one of them. Set in the small city of Veranópolis (RS), the ITERRA is responsible for the technical training of young people to work in the areas of settlements. Over the years, more than 3000 activists have gone through the school.

The Florestan Fernandes National School, a school for training cadres located in the municipality of Guararema in São Paulo, is also celebrating 10 years of existence. There have been more than 24,000 people linked to social movements in the countryside and the city, from all states of Brazil and from all continents, participating in courses, seminars, conferences and visits. The National School has a group of more than 500 volunteer teachers, both Brazilians and foreigners.

 Technical course in community health developed in Maranhão.

The Basic Courses of the MST, aimed at the landless base and activists, which take place in all states in which the movement is organized, have also existed for 25 years.

For Rosana Fernandes, from the pedagogical political coordination of the National School, this is an historic moment to reorganize the various dimensions of work related to the MST grass roots, especially in a period in which the Movement itself celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.

"We need to resume more intensively the training process from the ground up, including the MST families in encampments and settlements. We need to take this process to the masses of our members," she believes.

She believes that, without training, the MST would not have resisted throughout these 30 years, "and if we do not strengthen this process more than we have done, we may not survive another 30," she warns.

Communication Course held by the MST in the '90s

More than 20 thousand people

The Movement aims to reach more than 20 thousand people in the various training courses in the states in which it is organized.

Among the highlights are the Popular Courses for Youth, which has the challenge of organizing a massive training process with about a thousand young people in each state. The idea is that these courses should take place in public universities.

"Only 1% of rural youth are in the universities, so our effort to hold these courses on the university campus allows rural youth to occupy the university with young people from other city organizations, a place that also belong to them," said Raul Amorim from the MST Youth Collective.

Training course for literacy teachers in Maranhão.

States should also promote at least one state school of 30 days in length for political education plus two basic courses for regional.

In addition to these courses, other activities such as the International Seminar on the 10th anniversary of the National School, Florestan Fernandes Week, the Congress on Agrarian Residence, the national course for leaders, the University Day of Agrarian Reform and others are part of the education process of the MST this year.

 As Geraldo explains, the purpose of these courses is primarily to resume and intensify the work of the base in the areas of encampments and settlements.

"We have to engage our base in the discussion of the agrarian program so that they have a firm understanding of the proposals that the MST advocates for the countryside," he says.


Landless during a political education course in southern Bahia.
For him, this is the task of the whole organization and sectors and activists who oversee each area such as culture, production, health, should consider ways to contribute and strengthen the process of training and basic work.

Struggle and training

As Rosana said, the slogan of the last National Congress of the MST held in February 2014, "Struggle, Build People's Agrarian Reform",  summarizes the need for training in this new phase of the struggle for land.

At the same time that the direct struggle against the enemy is carried out, it is necessary to build in practice the conception and design of People's Agrarian Reform. Hence the need to understand the current nature of the struggle for land, the objectives such as the class struggle in the countryside and how agribusiness is structured.

Seminar on Education in the Countryside in Abelardo Luz (SC).

According to Geraldo, the struggle cannot be disassociated from the training process. "The person who knows more can struggle better.” It is essential that alongside the process of struggle we also establish the training process. Acting on the reality we want to transform, the contradictions that it causes, understanding this reality. The training serves to meet the organizational demands of the Movement, to answer the questions that our people demand, whether on the more intense class struggle or the struggle for production," he explains.

 Beyond the MST
The idea of establishing 2015 as the year of the battle of ideas is not restricted to the MST. As Rosana explained, the Movement also aims to contribute to other organizations of the working class in the training process.



More than 500 women participate in political education in a meeting in Bahia

"We do not have the pretense of closing in on ourselves. On the contrary, in all humility, we want to expand these experiences to other organizations" she points out.

For her, the fact that the Movement has developed benchmark training processes especially through courses at the National School, places a heavy responsibility on the MST in the process of training cadre for the class.

However, Rosana believes that the greatest contribution of the landless is to make it possible for various other organizations to build their own training schools. "We need to encourage other professional organizations to also develop experiments like the National School. This is the great example that the MST can bring. More than bringing people to the school, is to design new schools here and in other countries. "

by Luiz Felipe Albuquerque
from the MST web site