Like Rojava, another local effort in direct democracy, including in schools, occurs on the other side of the world in Brazil. The MST, the Landless Workers Movement, is one of the largest and most influential social movements in Latin America.[i] Its goal is to redistribute large estates to landless small farmers; the land occupations began in the early 1980s in southern Brazil and spread to 23 of 26 states where over 400,000 families gained land. Women led the movement to form Itinerant Schools in their new communities to reflect MST philosophy, but the government shut done more of them by 2016. MST aims to replace capitalism with socialism, environmentalism, and to prefigure a new human being, like Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Thousands of Latin American activists have been trained in dozes of centers and universities around the country and children learn leadership in MST schools. In contrast to capitalist public schools that teach individualism, competition, and obedience, MST schools teach collectivity and self-governance and value gender equity. Students are evaluated but not ranked or graded. Their pedagogy is influenced by Paulo Ferire’s methods, as described in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968); Soviet and Cuban schools that emphasized including non-sexist daily collective manual labor; art and cultural creativity; self-governed collectives, and the belief that students should learn about and apply the history and tactics of working-class social struggle. Schools are governed by collectives of students and teachers who discuss issues in school assemblies. The School Executive collective includes representatives from student work collectives, the teachers’ collective, the principal and a parent.
[i] Alessandro Mariano, Erivan Hilario, and Rebecca Tarlau, “Pedagogies of Struggle and Collective Organization: The Educational Practices of the Brazilian landless Workers Movement,” Interface, Vol. 8, No. 2, November 2016.
Alessandro Mariano, Erivan Hilario, and Rebecca Tarlau, “Pedagogies of Struggle and Collective Organization: The Educational Practices of the Brazilian landless Workers Movement,” Interface, Vol. 8, No. 2, November 2016.