Brazil police tear-gas protest as gov’t freezes school reforms


SÃO PAULO — Brazil police on Friday violently dispersed the latest in a series of protests in São Paulo over plans to shut down 94 schools in the state.

Police used tear gas and stun grenades to force the gathered crowd, whose march had blocked a major intersection in the city, to clear the streets.

At least 30 people have been detained by police in a string of protests; footage shared on social media also showed at least one student being punched in the face by an officer who had illegally removed his identification.

Shortly after Friday’s violence, however, came a victory of sorts: São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin announced that the government’s plans to reorganise the state’s schools had been suspended until next year, drawing jubilant scenes from protesters at the tail-end of their march.

Despite the partial victory, local media reported that students occupying around 200 schools in protest at the plan had announced they would not leave the premises until Alckmin revoked the decree behind the reforms.

The government argues the reforms will improve education the state and that over a million students had left the state system in recent years leaving gaps in the state’s schools that could be eliminated by moving some students to other schools – while vacated buildings would be used for other purposes or sold off.

Students and teachers, however, argue that the space freed up should be used to remove class sizes, which they say regularly ranges between 30 and 40 pupils.

The plans envisaged closing down schools that overlapped with other local facilities in terms of the grades they taught: according to the plans, if two schools within 1.5km of each other both taught the same years, one would be closed.

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