[04/09/08] MST Informa #149: We also struggle to educate

Dear friend of the MST,

Forty-eight year old Almerinda Marques says that he has begun to understand the world. Vilma Pereira da Silva, 50 years old, says that she now has the opportunity to do what she couldn’t do before: study. Both are landless workers. Both live in encampments, one in Minas Gerais and the other in Paraná. Both envision new perspectives and credit the MST for this.

Knowing how to read and write is everyone’s right and not the privilege of just a few. During our 24 years, we pursued this goal. As a result, Almerinda Marques, Vilma Pereira da Silva, and another 200 thousand people, including children, teenagers, and adults do not only know how to read and write but have schooling.

This year our Education Sector is 20 years old and the numbers show what we have won. Today more than two thousand primary schools, 38 middle schools and more than four thousand teachers are the fruits of this movement. In the schools, students and teachers use materials that are produced by the Education Sector, with content referenced to the lives and customs of the students of each region of the country, which facilitates learning and brings the landless workers closer to the world of literacy through their day-to-day work.

From the challenge to ensure education in the countryside, mainly during the struggles, other important innovations have arisen, such as Migrant Schools. Of the 24 states in which we are fighting for agrarian reform, we have Migrant Schools that are legally-approved and recognized by the State Council on Education in 5 states, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, Goiás and Alagoas. Two other states, Pernambuco and Piauí, are in the process of being recognized. Thirty-two schools, 277 teachers and 2,984 students are involved in a permanent educational process.

With so many successful projects implemented, we do not intend to substitute the role of the State in universal education. On the contrary. We do this to demand effective public policies, but above all, to apply pressure by showing what is possible to do when there is political will, such as what happens during land occupations.

But nothing comes for free. Such victories were won with difficulty and the struggle is still hard to make the State fulfill its constitutional duty and ensure public investment for the education programs in Agrarian Reform areas. Besides this, the funds destined for education in the countryside are insufficient for the costs of various expenditures such as for food and transportation of students.

Even so and motivated by the certainty of exemplary work, we will continue struggling, armed with courage and knowledge, not only for land for those who work it but also for dignity. We need to break down the barriers that prevent the people from studying and constructing their own destiny.

National Secretariat of the MST