Sunday, 10 February 2013

Brazil textbooks omit info on dictatorship

Textbooks used to teach history in Brazil's military schools omit essential information for the understanding of some episodes of the military dictatorship (1964-1985), reports Folha in a story that will astonish, I imagine, precisely no one, but is still important. 

In recounting the "revolution of 1964", a volume from the Marechal Trompowsky collection says that the coup was organised by "moderate and law-abiding groups."

The book says that Congress declared the presidency vacant before electing Gen. Castello Branco president shortly after the coup, but omits the fact that ousted President João Goulart was still in the country.

Another book, "500 Years of History of Brazil," says the Araguaia Guerrilla (1972-1975) ended after its leaders fled, without reference to the deaths and disappearance of the guerrillas carried out by the army.

There are 12 military schools in the country. They offer places from the 6th grade of elementary school to the 3rd year of high school and currently have 14,000 students enrolled, many of them children of military personnel.

The coordinator of the national truth commission, Cláudio Fonteles, said that the books may be subject to recommendations of the TC, set up to investigate violations of human rights which occurred especially during the dictatorship.

"This is an issue which it would be suitable to make recommendations about," he said. "We must respect the autonomy [of the military schools], but they cannot completely escape the curriculum adopted in other public and private schools."

For Carlos Fico, history professor at Rio university UFRJ , the government should promote a general reform of the military curricula. "We do not know how the schools for officers work," he says. "It is not a military issue. It concerns the safety of society."

The National History Association (ANH) intends to ask the ministry of education and the ministry of defence to assess the books used in military schools.

In a statement, the education ministry said it cannot interfere in the curriculum of military schools. For its part, the defence ministry said that it only oversees the educational content of institutions aimed at training officers and members of the armed forces.

Gen. José Carlos dos Santos, responsible for the Marechal Trompowsky collection of publications and head of the army education board (DEPA), declined to comment on the issue and suggested that any questions be directed to the staff of the army.

In a statement, the army said it took three years of research to produce the collection and said that it is updated annually by the authors, but declined to discuss specific issues.

Omissões marcam livros usados em escolas militares (Folha de S.Paulo)

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