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Educação e Pesquisa

Print version ISSN 1517-9702On-line version ISSN 1678-4634

Educ. Pesqui. vol.45  São Paulo  2019  Epub Feb 14, 2019 


Education as a social right and school as a rights protection space: an analysis in light of the Brazilian education legislation

1- Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, Pará, Brasil. Contato:


This paper does a documentation and bibliography revision, contained in the field of study of human rights education (HRE), the social quality of school education from the analysis of its institutionality at the educational regulatory framework instituted after the Federal Constitution of 1988. Such legislative acts delegated an innovative role to schools to act as a space in charge of protecting the rights of children and teenagers. However, what is found is that the school environment still constitutes as a place for schooling based on the labor logic and by the ideal of abundance of consumption as way to achieve happiness. It is proposed, based on the above, that the protective school act from a dynamic distribution of knowledge transforming the liberal maxim of equal opportunities and meritocracy into state intervention, such as social justice. For such, education as a fundamental right, and the school as a platform of social protection should assimilate traits that go beyond simple knowledge socialization, and should cover principles such as totality, availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability. In this way, we conceive HRE as indispensable to the formation of agents capable of potentiating the school as a space of social protection. Such education should be, thus, constitutive of the professional identity of those who work in schools and other institutions that are part of the social protection network in the system of rights assurance.

Key words: Education in human rights; Education as a social right; School as a space for social protection


Problematiza-se neste artigo de revisão documental e bibliográfica, pertencente à área de estudos em Educação em Direitos Humanos (EDH), a qualidade social da educação escolar a partir da análise da sua institucionalidade no marco normativo educacional instituído após a Constituição Federal de 1988. Tais atos legislativos legalizam uma função inovadora para a escola, a de ser e atuar como espaço protetivo de direitos de crianças e adolescentes. No entanto, o que se constata é que o ambiente escolar ainda se constitui como lugar da escolarização baseada na lógica do trabalho e do ideal de abundância do consumo como sinônimo de felicidade. Propõe-se, a partir do exposto, que a escola protetiva atue a partir de uma dinâmica distributiva de saberes transformando a máxima liberal da igualdade de oportunidades e meritocracia em intervenção estatal pela educação equitativa, como justiça social. Para tal, a educação como direito humano fundamental, e a escola como espaço de proteção social devem assimilar características que vão além da simples socialização de conteúdos instrucionais, devendo abranger princípios como totalidade, disponibilidade, acessibilidade, aceitabilidade e adaptabilidade. Dessa forma, concebemos EDH como indispensável à formação de agentes capazes de potencializar a escola como espaço de proteção social. Referida formação deve ser, portanto, constitutiva da identidade profissional dos que atuam na escola e nas demais instituições componentes da rede de proteção social no sistema de garantia de direitos.

Palavras-Chave: Educação em direitos humanos; Educação como direito social; Escola como espaço de proteção social


Concerning the field of education in human rights, this study investigates the conception of education as a fundamental right of social nature, from the point of view of its presence in the constitutional text and in the international regulatory framework in which Brazil is a part of. For example, according to Bobbio (1992, p. 75), there is no charter of rights that doesn’t recognize the right to education—growing, from society to society—, first elementary, then secondary and little by little even a college education.

In addition to its normative effectiveness, it should be taken into consideration the aspects that involve the guarantee of said right, both in the size of the offer or in the “type of performance demanded by the government to its satisfaction in case of its regular or insufficient supply” (DUARTE, 2007, p. 693), when the role of the State in the enforcement of social rights, as well as on the quality of the social role to which this task is proposed.

It is intended, in this line of thought, to focus analysis in this secondary aspect, sizing the quality of the provided service, with regard to education as a right that must incorporate the effectiveness of human dignity as its main foundation. From that this revision essay came to, in two parts. First, the analysis of official documents was made (laws, normative acts, etc) around the main referential framework of the Brazilian education politics that came to after the Federal Constitution of 1988, which are the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent (Law number no. 8069/90) and Law of Directives and Bases of Education (Law no. 9394/96); National Human Rights Education Plan; Curriculum Guidelines for Human Rights Education, and, finally, Resolution No. 04 of 13/07/10, referring to the National Curricular Guidelines for basic education. A bibliographic research was made previously and data collection with the selected works, in which were highlighted authors who sought to analyze right to education as a fundamental human right and sine qua non condition to the institutionalization and implementation of schools as social protection platforms. The authors that stand out in such regards are Cury (1998, 2007), Duarte (2007), Gentilli and Oliveira (2013), Santos (2015) and Rodino (2003).

Such official documents and also the reading and analysis of bibliographical references constitute the structural document sources to the data collection and its qualitative investigation, that should be comprehended in its historical, political, social and cultural complexity, ensuring that the research on education produces knowledge that is committed with a critical and transformative education (REIS, 2003?, p. 7).

As of the thesis that education, as a social right of mandatory offer — and recently considered a universal right —, constitutes as an element that composes a collective political project more than meeting individual interests; thereupon, it should be considered a right of social nature, meaning that:

[…] although for those who submit themselves to education, it represents a form of insertion in the world of culture and even an individual right, since it represents the search for continuity of a lifestyle deliberately chosen to be preserved. (DUARTE, 2007, p. 69).

This premise refers to ones of the arendtian theoretical presuppositions from her famous work titled “The crisis of education in the contemporary world,” from 1957. In that document, the philosopher says that “without being intrinsically political, education holds a fundamental political role: it regards the formation for the cultivation and future care to the common world, which in order to be transformed should also be subjected to conservation” (apud CÉSAR; DUARTE, 2010, p. 826).

It is in this sense that it is proposed the problematization of the social quality of education that is offered in schools based on the interpretation of its present institutional framework within the normative frameworks that implement the most recent Brazilian educational policy.

It is argued, although the most important regulations of the Brazilian educational politics that came before 1988’s Federal Constitution built a new role for schools – of being a protective space of the rights of children and adolescents –, they still work as a place destined to activities restricted to schooling and of cultural reproduction of the driving class, which practices and routines are based on the reproduction of values that rule the logic of labor, of consumption and of the ideal of abundance as a synonymous of happiness, mimicking attitudes, values and behavior that Arendt (2005) denominated as a repertoire of the animal laborans. It stands out that this proposition gains even more importance before the insufficient academic systematization about this new paradigm of educational space that it protects, and the proposition to implement human dignity as a pedagogical principle has been even less of a priority.

In this logic, it is highlighted that the proposition of school being as a space of protection should act from a dynamic of distribution of knowledge, culture and competence, transforming the liberal maxim of equal opportunities and meritocracy, under an equal liberal perspective. (BRITO FILHO, 2014), attributes of justice as fairness. (RAWLS, 2002).

The social role of schools in the context of animal laborans

The discussion of schools as formative and socialization spaces was always a recurring theme among researches of the education field and of the remaining human sciences that propose themselves to investigate the educational phenomena in its many dimensions. It is an uncontroversial fact that that this place has always stood out in the formal organization of modern institutions, withstanding both political and ideological pressures to configure itself as a privileged space; be it starting from more politically traditional paradigms, which purpose of social reproduction consolidates its greatest vocation in capitalist society, even if it is never hegemonic in the history of Brazilian education, as a radically formative and emancipation space for citizens that resist the status quo imposed onto them by the fetishes of capital living.

Therefore, it can be said that although they have suffered criticism over their existence, and more recently by sections that resist to reproduce it as a device of State ideology reproduction, schools continue, since their first appearance in the 7th century to now, to exist as one of the most important centers for diffusion of human culture.

It is understood that this is the reason that the school environment constitutes itself as the subject of so much controversy, since even if education is a social is practiced differently in space and time, it is possible to affirm that, without school establishments, the right to it would be harder to be assured, and when examining the quality of education that is offered in these places, it is considered that one should comprehend its accessability, permanency, success, organization and participation at the discussion of the political and pedagogical process, for education is the production of knowledge, and knowledge is, admittedly, expression of political and ideological relations.

[…] it has become common sense to relate education to modernity and to the formation of citizens. It is said that education is the constitutive element of the future; that without education we will never be modern; that modern countries reached their highest peak of progress by investing in education; that the solution for the issues of social exclusion, marginalization and violence is education. (SOUZA, 2009, p. 111).

More traditional pedagogical tendencies situate the school environment as a space of reproduction of official knowledge as a maintaining service of the ruling order. Whilst more progressive approaches treat schools as a space for exchange of knowledge and even as a place for political resistance and formation. Permeating these scenarios, globalized occidental societies find themselves facing dilemmas concerning the sustainability of the relational model that was built up until now. Recent studies confirm the thesis that our capitalist corporation constitution and its peculiar lifestyle has reached the limit of what is acceptable. There is no longer the need to argue the production of wealth but rather if its distribution is just or unjust.

Bauman (2015) questions the main ideas—that were once considered obvious—that sustain capitalism and started giving clean signs of losing strength, whether they are: a) the incessant economical growth as the only way to solve problems arising from cohabitation in an organized society; b) the permanent and exacerbated increase of consumption as the only and final alternative to finding wholesome and lasting happiness; c) the naturalization of inequality between humans and its beneficial inevitability to all, which confirms the positivist idea of the common good; and finally, d) competition, rivalry and the establishment of exclusionary processes as essential to social justice, equality and the reproduction of order.

At least in the past five decades such propositions have based the content of the regulatory framework, resumes, operative guidelines and training processes of teachers and students of the Brazilian education policy, and schools as a place in which mentalities and behavior are built from these ideals.

According to Arendt (2005, p. 83), this context can be characterized as a contemporary crisis of education, because “we live [in] a society of masses that prioritizes work activities and consumption; that avidly desires novelty for the sake of novelty, orienting itself only by the immediate future”, and schools have acted as an advocate of this perpetuation as a mediating institution of the relationship between humans and the world.

As a result, the modern utopias of happiness have become shallow and superficial, which are no longer based on the moral construction of humanity but by our capacity of large and fast consumption for immediate satisfaction of desires and pleasures. It cheapens our dignity, with mere survival being enough, as long as our desires have been met. It is not interesting for mankind the public utility of public spaces, that is, we are not interested in other’s dignity, there is no solidarity to the other and their pain.

These questions can be summed up when we analyze the construction of a civilizational project that prioritizes the relations of freedom of consumption as a paradigm of life in which education, of both children and adults, teaches consumption and rivaling each other as the secret of efficiency and success.

In such dynamic, it is important to define this course as historically constructed, and, according to Bauman (2015), as of the premise the defines humans as homo eligens, that is, the animal that chooses, which brings the ascertainment that we are protagonists, as humanity, in choosing this lifestyle. Here resides the venom and its antidote. In modernity, it is elected the premise of freedom to how we organize relations in capitalist society, which in turn makes us into hostages of our own freewill.

With this lifestyle endorsed by all societal spheres, it is also made the schools’ job to mold ready individuals, having as a starting point the consolidation of accepted mentalities and these circumstances for this society. This tendency is embodied in all levels and modalities of the educational process, giving us the sense that school, as a sustainable and utopian space for the construction of an inclusive paradigm in human rights, has vanished, and with it all the great utopias of modernity.

However, despite the bleak scenario, and “even while facing a dynamic of conflicts and tensions, there is a big generalization of rights in the country” (PRÁ, 2006, p. 281), an uncontroversial fact, demonstrates the existence of spaces of resistance to the given situation. Such focal points can be considered a consequence of the improvement of democratic practices and democratizing present in various sectors in the civil society from the beginnings of the resistance to arbitrariness committed during the period of the military dictatorship in Brazil. Aforementioned actions consolidated the dialectic relation between State, democracy, human rights, social justice, education and schools as spaces of social protection, and are a part of the construction of a conception, even if not a hegemonic one, that the school can and should rise as a multiplying space of social justice and of democracy as a value (FREIRE, 1992), being conceived as a space of rights protection. Thus, the idea is to analyze in what way the elements that enhance the democratic density in the texts of the norms that concretize the role of the school.

The school as a space for social protection in Brazilian educational policy: human dignity as a legal imperative

In Brazil, only after the end of the 1980s, specifically starting from the Federal Constitution, that gave constitutional status to education as a fundamental right, allowed the start of revitalization of the role of schools in society not only as spaces for cognitive improvement, socialization or political formation, but as also one for protection of rights. And, as Cury (1998, p. 49) points out to us, “a new constitutional order always represents the projection of an expectation that some of its principles will be fulfilled and brings the hope that we can reach a democratic regime with the full functioning of democratic institutions.

The construction of this conception of school is systematized through the consolidation of the Doctrine of Integral Protection of the Right of Children and Adolescents through the constitutionalization of the Principle of Absolute Priority, guiding the Law of Childhood and Adolescence, among them education. It is a legal and cultural turn of the leading role of the rights of children and adolescents, of a menorist logic or doctrine of the irregular situation—in which this segment was not a rights holder, being protected by the State only in situations after an infraction has been committed—a logic in which children and adolescents are empowered as subjects of rights and begin to play a leading role in their learning process. Regarding that, according to Vilas-Bôas (2011, p. 15) “[…] we break with the doctrine of the irregular situation that existed until then to encompass the doctrine of integral protection embodied in our Constitution. In terms of legal structure, this is a turnaround in the menorist system, an innovation that until today has not been completely implemented.”

Therefore, it is possible to deepen the legal understanding of the empowerment of children and adolescents from the consolidation of the premise of their integral protection through the following laws: Federal Constitution; Statute of the Child and Adolescent (Law no. 8069/90) and Law of Directives and Bases of Education (Law 9394/96); National Human Rights Education Plan; Curriculum Guidelines for Human Rights Education; and, finally, Resolution No. 04 of July 13, 2010, referring to the National Curricular Guidelines for Basic Education. Based on these normative references, the school paradigm is constructed as a protective space of rights, which can be indicated in each of the following legal provisions.

In the Federal Constitution, article 227 and the constitutional origin of the guarantee system of rights of children and adolescents stand out. It is argued, according to Scavino (2009), that 1988’s Constitution reinforced the protection of human rights after the six other Brazilian constitutions created earlier from 1824 to 1967. Unlike the previous constitutional charters, the one from 1988 demonstrates the concern of the legislator with the construction, at least at the formal level, of legal-institutional conditions for democracy to consolidate itself as a robust social value, albeit under liberal premises in relation to the provision of public policies.

It is understood that this condition favored the construction of an institutional climate convenient for the re-dimension of social rights, among which the right to education stands out as the most important. Its regular and formal offer, although not universal, has compromised public power with the construction of mechanisms to reduce poverty and social inequalities.

The Brazilian Constitution, elaborated shortly after the end of the dictatorial period, therefore, was the expression of the yearnings for freedom and democracy of the people; it was also the legitimate instrument of consecration, with legal force, of the aspirations for social justice and protection of the human dignity of a large part of the Brazilian population, a traditional victim of an unjust order that condemned it to exclusion and marginality. It can be said that the Constitution is the link that closes and articulates this transition between the dictatorial period and the new stage of democratic construction, and institutionalizes relations from the point of view of human rights and the dignity of the human person.

Cury (1998, p. 50) in an essay published a decade after the promulgation of the Federal Constitution, titled “Education and the New Constitutional Order,” states:

[…] there are conquests that have gained formalization in the New Charter, putting us in the same level as more contemporary countries. Thus, the fundamental rights and guarantees that express individual and collective rights and duties bring us back to the current meaning of citizenship: legal equality between men and women, condemnation of torture, freedom of conscience and expression, freedom of association, consumer guarantee, racism as a non-bailable crime, among others. And it innovates with the mandate of injunction in order to guarantee to any citizen the exercise of a fundamental right not yet regulated by law; innovates with the habeas data so that any citizen is aware of information stored about them in databases or public records; innovates with the mandate of collective security requested through an organized and recognized civil party or entity; finally, it innovates with the popular action of unconstitutionality in order to avoid abuse or misuse of power.

Throughout various sections of the 1988 Constitutional Charter, human dignity as an ontological value is highlighted as criteria for the expansion of active citizenship, for that it is considered by Dallari (2007) as the most democratic Constitution that Brazil has ever had, given its commitment to the supremacy of Law and the promotion of justice.

It can be affirmed, therefore, that the Federal Constitution and the consequent social practice and conscious mobilization of Brazilian society have enormously contributed to the re-democratization of the Brazilian State, allowing for it be considered an indispensable requirement in the implementation of ideological, organizational and institutional climate for the debate insertion as a State policy. However, from the normative institutionalization to the consolidation of a culture of human rights that penetrates all social practices, with the capacity to guarantee the fundamental rights of each person, a great distance still exists, the reduction of which requires a combination of efforts that, wherever they might come from, are essential, considering the strengthening of a network guarantee and protection of these rights.

In the Statute of the Child and Adolescent, Law no 8069/1990, the principle of absolute priority implements children and adolescents as citizen subjects, as Richer, Vieira and Terra (2010, 58) indicate, since the Statute conceives children and adolescents as citizens that deserve their own and special rights, because of their specific condition as developing individuals who need specialized, differentiated and integral protection.

With this, it is inaugurated a new formal conception of education and of school from three legal premises, currently still pursued in their effective materiality: the first of them is that children and adolescents present themselves to the school as holders of rights, and not as minor individuals (according to the then code of minors), in their citizen capacities, which objectively demands quality services; the second of them defines schools as a privileged space for the protection of rights of this segment of the population, which, in articulation with other institutions, structures the System of Guarantee of Rights and strengthens the rights protection social network; and the third premise, derived from the two previous ones, comes from the need to forge a new education paradigm as a subjective human right, in which its primordial principles (totality, availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability) start being established as a public policy due to demands made by civil society.

These premises distinguish the dimension of the great challenge that democracy imposes unto society, that, in the words of Bobbio (1992, p. 16), can be expressed in the following: “human rights constitute aspirations, […] means that deserve to be pursued, and that, despite their demand, have not been all (everywhere and in equal measure) recognized yet”. However, for this philosopher, the greatest problem with contemporaneity does not consist in the foundation or recognition of human rights, but instead of its effective guarantee.

The Law of Directives and Bases of Education, Law no. 9394/96, regulates the provision of the right to education as a duty of the State, and addresses schools as a space for the formation of citizenship. Although it does not expressly emphasizes the need to consolidate schools as a guarantor and protector of rights, a democratic advance can be seen from the demonstrations of respect for freedom and the appreciation of tolerance as a basis for teaching.

In this reasoning, we can highlight some passages of Law 9394/96. Article 22, for example, defines that “basic education aims to develop the student, ensuring them the indispensable common formation for the exercise of citizenship, and provide them with the means to progress in work and in later studies” (BRASIL, 1996).

The law is perceived, although it conceives the school much more as a place of learning for children and adolescents (excepting the modality of Youth and Adult Education) than as a space for protection and guaranteeing rights, it goes beyond the formal concept of education as teaching, which was the concept in force in the previous Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education (LDB – Law 5692/71). According to the 2nd Article, the LDB is based on the principles of freedom and human solidarity as the driving axes of the student’s formation. The 3rd Article, subsection IV, points that, as one of the principles in which Brazilian education will be taught, respect for freedom and regard for tolerance, a relevant fact to affirm that the content of this complementary law highlights an education paradigm as a formative potential in human rights, from the implementation of systematic processes of teaching that guide the formation of the subject of rights in school, which is, therefore, configured as a space that protects the rights of these people. In Article 12, one can see the intention of the legislator to legally situate schools as privileged institutions in the social protection network, articulated with other protective bodies, such as the tutelary council. That is, it is the legal duty of educational institutions to ensure that children stay in school successfully and, for this, they must relate in an intersectoral way with other educational institutions.

In the National Curricular Guidelines for Basic Education (Resolution no 04 of July 13, 2010), the school is conceived as a place of caring and educating. They provide an analysis of the school space beyond its formal role of educational, that is, as being a place for teaching, adding to this dimension other values proper to the integral formation of humans. In addition to this innovative conception of the educational process itself, it adds the notion of education as a social right, as a universal offer obligatory by the State. In this context, the prerogative of protection gains a status of social duty.

As an inalienable social right of the human person, education is a powerful instrument of socio-cultural construction. It constitutes a human act of various faces, intensities and manifestations, as is the case of human rights education, which aims to promote the formation of subjects for the defense and protection of human dignity, for democracy and for a culture of peace.

In this process, the school, as a privileged educational space for the socialization of information and knowledge, acquires a fundamental attribution in the construction of a culture of respect for the rights of the human person in its essence.

By human essence, one can understand the ability to form women and men, in their condition of childhood and adolescence, in all the dimensions that constitute us humans. It means considering our multilateralism of formative demands, desires, ethical, aesthetic, moral and cultural values and all the other knowledge that constitute our human condition. Education is understood as a social practice, whose teaching activity is an indispensable element of enormous social significance, but not the only and perhaps not the most important. And this condition implies the need to be cared for, in the broadest sense of the term. Therefore, the school is defended as the place of caring.

Based on the National Human Rights Education Plan (BRASIL, 2007), Brazil’s commitment to the implementation of human rights and the evolution of an organized society is underscored. It has conceptions, principles, objectives, guidelines and lines of action. Regarding the implementation of this plan, it is important to observe its articulating role in the diffusion of the culture of human rights in the country and in affirming them, increasingly with greater force, both in the scope of public policies and civil society organizations (SILVA, 2011).

It is considered that these principles are essential for the consolidation of a matrix for the training of professionals in different areas, especially those related to activities that are part of the various protected areas of rights, especially law, social assistance, health and education. Such professionals can be conceived as agents of social protection, since they act in the diverse environments that potentially act as protective spaces, as it is the case of schools.

In basic education, human rights education, as an axis capable of consolidating schools as protective spaces, should articulate respect diversities in gender, ethnic, generations, sexuality, religion and politics, relating the cognitive dimensions (thinking and the process of construction and apprehension of knowledge), subjective (the feeling with oneself and the other) and practice (individual and group attitudes and institutional actions). Intercultural education and inter-religious dialogue, as well as critical reading of the practical variety of prejudices, stigmas and forms of discrimination, are components of human rights education (CANDAU et al., 1995).

Human rights education does not exist solely to stop children from bullying each other. The subjected is taught to prevent physical aggression, but mainly to change the symbolic perception of violence. When one person harms the other, they believe they have a reason to do so, because they do not perceive the stages of symbolic aggression they have already committed.

Basic education represents itself as one of the spheres and axes of action of the National Human Rights Education Plan (BRASIL, 2007), which proposes that the culture of human rights crosses the processes of cultural socialization, the formal teaching process, the educational practices and the school curriculum, requiring training for schools’ educators.

The National Curriculum Guidelines for Human Rights Education—DCNEDH, (Resolution of the Plenary Council of the National Council of Education of May 30, 2012) emphasizes the importance of training in human rights education, considered as an obligation of education professionals, as a structuring element of the perspective of education as social law:

2nd Article: Education in Human Rights, one of the fundamental pillars of the right to education, refers to the use of educational concepts and practices based on Human Rights and its processes of promotion, protection, defense and application in daily and citizen life of individual and collective rights and responsibilities. (BRASIL, 2012).

In this way, HRE is conceived as indispensable for the formation of agents capable of empowering the school as a space of social protection. Such training must therefore be constitutive of the professional identity of those who work in schools and in other institutions that are part of the Social Protection Network in the Rights Guarantee System. Acting as a welcoming element cannot be seen only in the perspective of the personal identity of the one who welcomes, but as something that is learned in an obligatory, intentional, methodical and systematic way in the process of professional constitution.

The above principles are understood as axes that reinforce the symbolic architecture of schools as welcoming spaces that do not expose, cares, educates and, therefore, protects.

Final considerations

It is well known that, beyond the normative milestones, we are very far from achieving this. However, in view of the possibility of reaching this level, education as a fundamental human right and schools as spaces for social protection must assimilate characteristics that go beyond the simple socialization of instructional contents, although they do not at any time rule out their importance. As Cury points out (2007, p. 486).

The right to education is based on the recognition that systematic knowledge is more than an important cultural heritage. As part of the cultural inheritance, the citizen becomes able to get hold of cognitive and formative standards by which he is more likely to participate in the destinies of his society and to collaborate in its transformation. Having a mastery of systematic knowledge is also a sine qua non level in order to be able to extend the field and the horizon of these and new knowledge.

Beyond this function, schools as protective spaces for rights and as formal places of human rights education (BENEVIDES, 2007) should cover principles such as totality, availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability.

These principles are of greater importance if we understand that their meticulous fulfillment can contribute strongly to what UNESCO has defined as sustainable human development, a “process that increases the effective freedom of people so they can realize what they value” (UNESCO, 2008, p. 21) and sustainability as a protective element of rights.

In addressing human rights and social inclusion as structuring for development, the entity argued that the concept of sustainable human development should emphasize

[…] the importance of economic growth, the need for an equitable redistribution of wealth to overcome poverty, the integration of women in all spheres of public life, self-determination of people, including indigenous peoples, care for the environment and improvement of capacity of people to make decisions regarding their future (UNESCO, 2008, p. 21).

When talking about human rights, there is always a reference to the overt violation of the rights of others: crimes against life, honor, racism, sexism, private property, etc. When speaking of human rights education, we start from the premise that we must teach within the differences so that the ethics that make up the humanity of the other—how dignity is consolidated—is not violated and, therefore, are what makes us subjects of rights.

It is considered imperative, for this, that all the time and in many places people are learning about human rights, and the classroom, in this context, constitutes a privileged formative space and an innovative scenario of these practices, since, according to Candau et al. (1995),

Based on available information, we find that, for the most part, human rights education initiatives have been implemented in non-formal education, an aspect that traditionally favors popular education. In the scope of school education, the concern with this subject is more recent. However, this has been affirmed and we have already carried out several experiences developed by non-governmental organizations, some with State support, as well as by the initiative of some—few—education systems.

In it, it is educated as much from the formal point of view as from the non-formal. At both times questions should be inserted that transcend instruction, cognition and individual performance. To educate in human rights means to break with socially constructed paradigms around individual and collective attitudes and postures, also forged throughout our history and the history of the social groups of which we are part of.

This paradigm shift has proved to be extremely difficult, since it is not, as some still insist, an internal problem to the school’s functioning logic, although authors like Benevides (2007, p. 347) acknowledge that it is a privileged locus capable of promoting a more equal spirit of coexistence, “to the extent that students, normally separated by barriers of social origin, live together there.”

It is insisted on the inference that the educational phenomenon demands a much more complex analysis than to restrict it only to the surroundings of pedagogical practice, its methodologies, evaluations and related questions. The phenomena must be thought as cause and dialectic product articulated with what happens around it.

For this reason, the current school model and its existential reason, in the neoliberal conjuncture, need to be understood based on determinations ruled on the demands of a political field geared to training for the consumption of material and immaterial goods that increasingly hegemonizes. In this field, democracy and citizenship are consolidated by the restricted liberal formality (through legal positivation), not by the possibility of thinking them as symbolic empowerment and emancipation—and often physical—of the conditions imposed by the capital.

At first, all of this may seem unattainable, distant, and subversive. In recognizing the objective difficulties and historical impossibilities of erecting this innovative paradigm of schools, although present in the normative complex of Brazilian education, the disobedience of the order supported by Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of Hope (1992), which admits hope as a basic principle and essential for the performance of any endeavor, even the most difficult ones. Hope is what gives strengthens this Utopia!


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Received: September 04, 2017; Accepted: February 06, 2018; Accepted: April 03, 2018

Émina Santos is a doctor in Socioenvironmental Sciences by the Núcleo de Altos Estudos Amazônicos (NAEA) of the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), coordinator of UFPA’s study group of Education in Human Rights, professor of the Post-graduate Program of Curriculum and charge of the Basic School of the Nucleus of Transdisciplinary Studies in Basic Education of UFPA.

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