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Lula’s third mandate reignites hope in Brazilian early-career researchers

Science in Brazil is centered on public universities and institutions that uplift Brazil to be a top-15 scientifically productive country worldwide (Lopes et al. 2021LOPES MACQ, BRASIL D & OLIVEIRA GMM. 2021. Research and Publication in Brazil: Where we are and Where we Head to. Int J Cardiovasc Sci 34: 231-235. DOI: https://doi.org/10.36660/ijcs.20200004.
https://doi.org/10.36660/ijcs.20200004...
). This high productivity is partially related to the Workers’ Party’s investments in higher education until the mid-2010s (Silveira 2018SILVEIRA LCT. 2018. Widening access to higher education for low-income students: a Brazilian case study (1990s-2016). Rev Bras Educ 23: e230023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-24782018230023.
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-2478201823...
). However, most Brazilian researchers (i.e., students or postdoctoral fellows) are deprived of labor rights and work under low wages (e.g., ~US$400/month for Ph.D. students). Brazilian science has suffered contingencies since 2014, but more severely during Bolsonaro’s mandate (Mega 2019MEGA ER. 2019. Funding crisis at Brazilian science agency could leave 80,000 researchers and students without pay. Science. doi: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaz1848.
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaz1848...
, Kowaltowski 2021KOWALTOWSKI AJ. 2021. Brazil’s scientists face 90% budget cut. Nature 598: 566-566. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-02882-z.
https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-02882...
, Silva Junior et al. 2021SILVA JUNIOR CHL ET AL. 2021. Surviving as a young scientist in Brazil. Science 374: 948-948. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abm8160). On the brink of his presidency, Bolsonaro’s final strike against science upheld the payment of the wage of researchers associated with the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, threatening the livelihood of 200.000 people (CAPES 2022CAPES. 2022. Official note: Restrições orçamentárias e financeiras impostas à CAPES. Available: https://www.gov.br/capes/pt-br/assuntos/noticias/restricoes-orcamentarias-e-financeiras-impostas-a-capes.
https://www.gov.br/capes/pt-br/assuntos/...
). Their salaries, nationally misconceived as scholarships, is their only income, since contracts demand exclusive dedication. Therefore, Bolsonaro’s neglect to pay scientists exposed them to the explicit risk of not being able to afford housing or food, depriving them of fundamental human rights.

Mobilization in academia was quick and effective, leading to judicial measures against the federal government and a national strike. In response, the federal government allocated US$90 million that guaranteed the payment of research fellowships a week late (Sanz 2022SANZ R. 2022. Verba da CAPES é liberada; veja quando bolsas serão pagas. Rev Fórum. Available: https://revistaforum.com.br/politica/2022/12/8/verba-da-capes-liberada-veja-quando-bolsas-sero-pagas-128398.html.
https://revistaforum.com.br/politica/202...
), but the damage was already done. The last month of Bolsonaro’s mandate was marked with one more struggle for early-career scholars in Brazil. Contrastingly, Lula’s mandate first month marked significant advances for them. After a historical meeting between Camilo Santana (Minister of Education), Lula, and the deans of federal institutes and universities, Camilo indicated the first adjustment of scholarships in ten years (Mazui 2023MAZUI G. 2023. Reajuste de bolsas da Capes e do CNPq deve ser anunciado ainda em janeiro, diz Camilo Santana. G1. Doi: https://g1.globo.com/educacao/noticia/2023/01/19/reajuste-de-bolsas-da-capes-e-do-cnpq-deve-ser-anunciado-ainda-em-janeiro-diz-camilo-santana.ghtml.
https://g1.globo.com/educacao/noticia/20...
), both in the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education (CAPES). In addition, the federal government is taking expressive structural decisions supported by the scientific community, such as appointing well-respected scientists and professors for key government positions, such s Denise Pires de Carvalho and Ricardo Galvão. Still, Brazilian scientists shall keep articulating to bargain with the current government for the extension of labor benefits to all scientists, the adjustment of undergraduate scholarships and salaries to postdocs and professors, and the revision of unfair contracts that push researchers to precariousness (e.g., demands for exclusive dedication in temporary positions). This is important for every researcher and education worker who must fight against precarious working conditions in Brazil or elsewhere (Kozlov 2022KOZLOV M. 2022. Thousands of academics strike in California: how is research affected? Nature. Available: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03818-x.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-0...
, Naddaf 2022NADDAF M. 2022. ‘An attack on the future of science’: why UK researchers are striking. Nature 612: 198-200. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-04146-w.
https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-04146...
). Mobilization continues: #ReajusteJa.

REFERENCES

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    16 June 2023
  • Date of issue
    2023

History

  • Received
    31 Jan 2023
  • Accepted
    2 Apr 2023
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