Open talk about education, ethnic relations and inequalities

Dr. Christian Muleka (left) and Dr. Alex Sander da Silva (right), the protagonists of the talk

Within the framework of the TO INN Project (Erasmus +) “From tradition to innovation in teacher education”, the Master’s Degree in Education, Languages and Media of the School of Humanities of the National University of San Martín (Argentina) organized the past 21 September- the open talk “Education, ethnic relations and inequalities: Pedagogical reflections” , with the participation of specialists Christian Muleka Mwewa , from the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS-Brasil) and Alex Sander Da Silva , from the University of Extremo Sul in Santa Catarina (UNESC-Brazil). The activity was carried out within the framework of the Seminar on “Subject and Culture” dictated by Dr. Monica Tarducci and moderated by Monica Pini (CEIECS-UNSAM), Director of the Master.

Professor Muleka began with a presentation on “Racisms, ethnic groups and diversities” , referring to Rita Pedro’s ideas collected at a conference in Portugal. This researcher comments that racism is a problem within the educational system, which is generated from the moment in which the black race begins to enter the educational field at the institutional level. In Europe the number of descendants of inhabitants of the colonies and social diversity grew, and the idea of ​​race was used to discriminate against these groups: racism. Unlike this word, Rita proposes the use of ethnicity, to refer to forms of life, individualities, subjectivities, and uses the word race only to refer to human beings. The race is unique and it is the human race. Ethnicity is the cultural identity, it includes forms of life, belonging and moral values ​​in a specific context. Scientifically, race does not exist, but it is still used to subordinate different groups with respect to others.

Within Brazil that Professor Christian relates in his exhibition, the definition of races is used from a hegemonic idea, where the color of the skin prevails and the superiority of the white skin color over the black skin color is enhanced. This ideal was based on the idea that in 100 years Brazil would become a country only composed of whites.

Through the law of compulsory education for African-Americans, the possibility of avoiding racism, which is learned from childhood, either in the same school or in the primary socialization of the family, begins to be given. Since racism is learned, non-racism can be learned. The law proposes an anti-racist teaching and Rita proposes tools to overthrow racism with children, are initiatives that expose the responsibility of adults in this discrimination, as well as in eradicating it.

Dr. Muleka commented on the work carried out by Rita Pedro in Portugal where racial discrimination is important. She worked with children of 7 and 8 years of age using dramaturgy to reach out more directly to these groups, recognize racism and combat it.

The dramaturgy stimulated the idea of ​​not silencing any racist act and revealing the social relations that produce it and its causes, since it is not a problem of the one who suffers it but of the whole society and all as human beings.

Dr. Christian Muleka (left) and Dr. Alex Sander da Silva (right), the protagonists of the talk

Dr. Christian Muleka (left) and Dr. Alex Sander da Silva (right), the protagonists of the talk

Subsequently, Professor Da Silva addressed the issue of privatization in education in “Of Education as Merchandise or New Fetishes in Education: emblematic cases in Brazilian society” .

It began with a reference to the character of a story by Jorge L. Borges “Funes el memorioso”, which he picked up at the end of his exhibition. Going back to the past is a way of thematizing the present to think about the future.

Take Marx’s definition of fetish, which defines the fetishism of merchandise that happens when goods take on intrinsic value, separate from the work that served to give them value, and use it to thematize the present. It applies to the present, given that there is a neoliberalism without limits. “The merchandise acquires a magical form capable of offering more than utility.” The media contribute to the social production of this ideology that redefines education in Latin America and the world. The two emblematic cases referred to in the title of his presentation are the following:
-the intense process of commodification of education in the modes of implementation of the neoliberal agenda; and -the process of undertaking public-private partnership policies in the field of Brazilian education.
The professor gives a series of examples that illustrate each one, such as the purchase and sale of institutions and the financing of Higher Education, as well as forms of resistance and protest against this offensive by students and teachers.

It concludes by taking up the theme of memory, which serves to remind us of historical struggles and continue in the present in defense of public, secular and quality education.

The presentations aroused questions and comments from the attendees, who were active in relating the topics with their own experience and with concerns regarding the social and political situation, as well as education.