President Jair Bolsonaro is taking his anti-leftist ideological war to Brazil’s classrooms and universities, causing angst among teachers and education officials who say the government wants to fight an enemy that doesn’t exist.
Bolsonaro and top officials have announced plans to revise textbooks to excise references to feminism, homosexuality and violence against women, say the military will take over some public schools and frequently bash Paulo Freire, one of Brazil’s most famous educators, whose ideas had worldwide influence.
Freire, who died in 1997, was one of the founders of critical pedagogy. Conservatives contend Freire’s method encourages students to challenge traditional values such as family and the church. A socialist, Freire was briefly imprisoned during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship that Bolsonaro has repeatedly praised.