MST Informa #126: All of the Landless in School - Conference on Education in Paraná


Dear Friends of the MST,

Education is a basic right for everyone, not the privilege of a few. Since 1989, it is with this conviction that the MST has fought for land reform that includes the issue of free and quality public education for rural people and in rural areas. So far, the landless movement has achieved approximately 3,000 public schools in the encampments and settlements countrywide, opening the door to quality education for 200,000 children and teenagers.

For the MST, Education in the countryside is a process of humanization and a way to achieve dignity. Rural schools should not be ignored or marginalized as often occurs in much of the country. The education must be innovative, encouraging rural workers to appropriate their own history, turning them into people with the conscience and capacity to transform their social reality. It is about an education of the people, not for the people who live in the countryside, combining study with work, culture with community, agricultural cooperation and solidarity with urban workers. In sum, an education that goes back to socialist values.

The MST has many examples that illustrate the priority that education receives in the fight for land reform, such as the Mobile School, that for ten years has operated exclusively for children in encampments. Since the beginning, the movement has developed a philosophy of educating landless children and youth on roadsides, on occupied plantations, and in MST encampments. In seven states, it is now the norm that when the movement occupies a new area, a school is the first community building to be set up. This way, the children and youth must never leave school, even under adverse conditions.

The need for Mobile Schools came up because children in the encampments found it impossible to get transportation to schools in nearby cities. Often the schools did not have space available for MST children. And even when they did have space, the concepts covered in conventional schools were distant from the reality of the countryside.

Currently, Mobile Schools operate in Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Goiás, Alagoas, Pernambuco (pending approval), and in Piauí (also pending approval). Nationally, there are 45 schools in operation with more than 350 educators from the movement serving more than 4,000 students. Ten thousand students have already passed through these Mobile Schools.

Another example is Youth and Adult Education, which works to teach literacy to the landless with curriculum that is related to the reality of life in the countryside. The program started as The Campaign for Youth, Adult, and Elderly Education in 1991. Within five years, the program spread to 18 states, allowing the formation of 600 classes serving 8,000 students. The project was continued in partnership with the Ministries of Education and with state universities. The “Literate Brazil