The Citizenship and Democracy in School project has as its objective the creation of spaces for the promotion of a pluralistic dialogue that are based in mutual respect and recognition of diversity within the classrooms of the Brazilian public education system. It works as a tool that prevents increases in prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination while promoting the participation of young people in the construction of a more tolerant democratic, and solidarity-minded society. The project and its accomplishments come as the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG), the Federal Prosecutor for the Rights of the Citizen (MPF), and the National Secretariat of Citizenship (SNC, MDH). It was initiated in 2017, following a consultation process that boasted the participation of approximately 100 individuals including representatives of civil society, public officials, educators, and students.
Starting with the existing educational framework in Brazil and keeping in mind the reality that professors live in their schools, the project represents a proposal for working throughout the school year on a democratic citizenship project with students between 13 and 18 years old.
For its implementation, participating professors completed a training process and also received a copy of the project’s pedagogical guide. This guide contains all of the necessary information to be able to roll out Citizenship and Democracy in School to the classroom.
Currently divided in two parts, the project looks to consider a series of questions with students in the classroom. Spread across five different thematic axes, the first phase provides a framework for covering a broad series of themes including: 1) identity and diversity, 2) dignity and respect, 3) human rights, 4) democracy and the right to information, and 5) citizenship, cooperation, and solidarity.
The second phase, for its part, works to stimulate the participation of students through the development of their own research projects. These projects, completed in groups, allow students to explore and develop their own particular interests and concerns. As a final product, each group produces a video to represent their work on a specific topic or theme. These videos can be presented to the community as a tool for peer-to-peer education.
The project implementation started in 2018 as a pilot rolled out in seven public schools – two in the Federal District of Brasilia and five in Sao Paulo. In the beginning, we reached 25 teachers and 620 students. Since then, the project has grown significantly, and the work carried out with our 16 institutional partners, including state and municipal Secretaries of Education and Human Rights, has trained more than 2,000 teachers and impacted over 60,000 students.