At the National Meeting of Landless Children in Brazil, they debate cuts in education budget

This article by Rafael Tatemoto originally appeared on Brasil de Fato on 24 July 2018

The first National Landless Kids Meeting is taking place in Brasília, Brazil, between July 23 and 26. Around 1,200 children aged 8 to 12 who live in camps and settlements in 24 states are attending the event, held by the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST). During the meeting, the 400 adult educators will only assist the children, while the kids will conduct the activities.

During the opening rally, one of the main topics addressed was education in rural areas. The children looked back at the history of the establishment of the MST and the values that guide the organization, such as the struggle for land and international solidarity between peoples. Education, one of the movement’s main concerns, was the keynote at the venue.

Sara Carvalho de Sousa, who lives and works in a settlement in the state of Espírito Santo, spoke on behalf of the landless kids. She denounced the fact that rural schools are being shut down and that education is lacking resources.

Sousa also highlighted the possibility of sharing experiences with landless kids from other places around the country. “This meeting is one of the spaces created by the movement for our education. I am very happy to be here and be able to fight for our rights, but also to play and get to meet fellows from all over Brazil. And to see how strong we are together. We hope this meeting will fire us up to keep struggling,” she said.

The National Meeting will have two main topics for discussion: children’s rights and healthy eating.

Sousa also said the struggle for agrarian reform is deep-rooted in Brazil’s colonial history. Debrah Duprat, a member of the Office of the Attorney General’s board for protection of citizens’ rights.

“Our country started out crooked, all wrong. It started with white men invading indigenous lands, enslaving people, creating large estates. Every victory was achieved through the struggle for rights. Today, you [kids] bring a huge lesson to Brasília: struggling is not a grown-up thing,” she said.

Members of parties, unions, foreign people’s movements, and diplomats attended the opening ceremony. Congressman Nilto Tatto pointed out how important it is to gather children in a political context such as the one the country is living now.

“Your meeting is very symbolic and meaningful in this moment we are living. It’s a very difficult moment, when coupists are handing over our patrimony and jeopardizing your future lives. This meeting is symbolic because, by playing, dreaming, and struggling, you will show all of us and Brazil what you want, so that, in the future, no one will be landless,” he highlighted.

Edition: Katarine Flor | Translated by Aline Scátola