Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution, and even key revolts in Brazil are nowhere to be found in the draft of a nationwide educational reform. Instead, 9th to 12th graders would get classes on Brazilian, African, Latin American, and 20th-century history alone.
The highly controversial document is the first version of the National Common Curricular Base: the minimum themes that all schools, public and private, must teach students.
In a move to shift the teaching of history away from “eurocentrism,” the ministry’s commission of experts wanted Brazilian students to “analyze the plurality of historical and cosmological conceptions.”
Even though the reform does not forbid the teaching of subjects outside the mandatory themes, it deems anything else unnecessary.
The Brazilian daily Folha points out that many schools would still teach all epochs, because related questions regularly appear on the standardized tests required to get into universities.
However, a high-school student in Brazil could, in theory, graduate without attending a class on Mesopotamia, the Roman Empire, or the French Revolution. With cash-strapped schools, chronic absenteeism, and union strikes, this scenario is not at all unlikely.
In its defense, the Education Ministry rejected the accusations of ideological bias, claiming that the current version is just a “proposal,” and that a period of consultation is open for anyone to suggest changes until March 15.
However, if what the government seeks is pluralism, why not allow each school to adopt its own curriculum? As Students for Liberty Brazil points out, “an administration that claims to defend diversity so much has decided to prevent it there where it is most important.”
Young minds need debate to be incentivized in the classroom, not covertly stifled.