HUFFINGTON POST

Moving Photos Look Back At How Brazil's Youth Fought To Save Their Schools

Students occupied more than 200 schools in Sao Paulo last year, stopping a scheme to close down 94 schools in the Brazilian state.
A student stares back resiliently at police officers inside the Paula Souza Center where the administration of the Sao Paulo
A student stares back resiliently at police officers inside the Paula Souza Center where the administration of the Sao Paulo state technical schools is located.

The Sao Paulo state government unceremoniously announced in October 2015 that dozens of schools would be closed by 2016 as part of a “reorganization” program; a decision that would affect hundreds of thousands of students. The teachers union and students — who hadn’t been consulted about the authorities’ decision — organized protests to raise awareness, but these largely went unnoticed. By early November, Brazilian students boldly decided to occupy the Fernão Dias state school — a move replicated in 200 more schools across the state in the span of a week.

“We won’t give up!” was the students’ official motto. They were forced to repeat it as they continually faced violent confrontations with local security forces.

Following weeks of resilience, the movement succeeded in halting the state’s scheme to shut down 94 public schools and pushed Education Secretary Herman Voorwald out of his job.

Three Brazilian researchers ― Marcio Ribeiro, Antonia Malta Campos and Jonas Medeiros ― conducted interviews with the protesting teens and visited a number of the occupied schools. Their work culminated in a book, titled Escolas de Luta (Combative Schools), published earlier this month. The book, which documents the student protests, is interspersed with images shot by Brazilian photojournalism collectives.

Scroll down to see some of the photos.

  • Classroom chairs were often used to block traffic. This photo was shot during a protest at the Pinheiros expressway by the Pi
    Photo from Escolas de Luta
    Classroom chairs were often used to block traffic. This photo was shot during a protest at the Pinheiros expressway by the Piqueri Bridge.
  • A student sits inside iconic Fernão Dias school, with military police standing guard.
    Rodrigo Zaim/Coletivo R.U.A.
    A student sits inside iconic Fernão Dias school, with military police standing guard.
  • A student stands inside a classroom at Cefam, a state school in Diadema, Sao Paulo. The banner reads: "My school, my choice!
    Felipe Larozza
    A student stands inside a classroom at Cefam, a state school in Diadema, Sao Paulo. The banner reads: "My school, my choice! CEFAM will not be closed down.”
  • Students begin their occupation of the Fernão Dias school.
    Jardiel Carvalho/Coletivo R.U.A.
    Students begin their occupation of the Fernão Dias school.
  • A student gets arrested during the occupation of the Paula Souza Center. 
    C.H.O.C. Documental
    A student gets arrested during the occupation of the Paula Souza Center. 
  • Stacks of books at the Di Cavalcanti school.
    Mel Colho/Mamana Coletivo
    Stacks of books at the Di Cavalcanti school.
  • Student protesters took care of various tasks during the occupation. In this photograph, students at the Castro Alves st
    Renata Armelin/Mamana Foto Coletivo
    Student protesters took care of various tasks during the occupation. In this photograph, students at the Castro Alves state school, located in the north region of Sao Paulo, hold out their ID cards. They read: "cleaning," "security," "recreation," "communication" and "organization.”
  • Police officers carry a student away.
    Douglas Pingituro/C.H.O.C. Documental
    Police officers carry a student away.

This post originally appeared on HuffPost Brazil and has been translated into English. 

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