UNICEF supports the guarantee of Warao boys and girls’ rights to education

The Resolution 191/2021, of the Municipal Education Council of Manaus (Amazonas), recognizes the education rights of indigenous peoples of other nationalities, including the Warao people, who live in the Amazonian capital

23 February 2022
Foto mostra um menino em sala de aula. Ele está usando máscara. Há outras crianças, também de máscara, na foto, mas elas estão desfocadas.
UNICEF/BRZ/Mauro Cristo

Manaus, 23 February 2022 – “We want to guarantee our children the right to formal education and that they can complete their studies, becoming indigenous professionals”, states the Warao teacher, Daisy Josefina Pérez Valdez, who is dedicated to the education of her people’s children and adults. According to the teacher, the Warao people claim full access to education, from basic to higher education. “In this fight, we seek, in Brazil, the right to have schools where the Warao pedagogy is taught, as well as the recognition of linguistic rights”, she adds.

Several organizations have joined efforts to demand the formulation of resolutions that guarantee the education rights of indigenous peoples, regardless of the country of origin, from the Municipal Council of Education of Manaus (CME) and from the State Council of Indigenous Education of Amazonas (CEEI-AM). They are the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Aldeias Infantis SOS Brasil, the Coordination of Indigenous Peoples of Manaus and Surroundings (COPIME), the Indigenous Students Movement of Amazonas (MEI-AM), the School Education and Health Forum for Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (FOREEIA), the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI). And as a result, the Municipal Education Council of Manaus published the Resolution 191, on December 27, 2021, which guarantees education rights to all indigenous peoples residing in Manaus, regardless of the country of origin, and that these rights are equivalent to the education rights of Brazilian indigenous peoples.

According to Jesiel Sateré-Mawé, president of the State Council for Indigenous School Education, this resolution contributes to democratic spaces with the integration of indigenous children and adolescents. “For indigenous peoples, it is part of the culture that children and adolescents participate in meetings, celebrations, fishing, hunting, among other activities. This is because indigenous children and adolescents learn by observing their elders in day-to-day activities, and thus the culture is perpetuated”, he emphasizes.

The Resolution 191 is an example that must be followed by other Education Councils across the country and constitutes an effective response to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples. According to Tiago Silva, President of the Municipal Education Council of Manaus, the Warao people requested the creation of this legal instrument, through the Manaus Indigenous Education State Council, in order to guarantee education rights in 2021. “The Resolution was created to guarantee indigenous peoples the right to education, regardless of their nationalities. Thus, a new mark in History of Education begins, not only in the capital of Amazonas State, but as a reference to other municipalities in the country”, Tiago explains.

According to Matheus Rangel, UNICEF Education Officer for the Amazon Territory, the idea was born within the Súper Panas project, a partnership between UNICEF and Aldeias Infantis SOS, when Warao representatives produced and presented a consultation document on children’s and adolescents’ rights to education, interculture and language. “This dialogue happened by bringing the defense of Warao peoples’ rights closer to the political movements representing indigenous peoples in Amazonas, as well as to bodies defending education rights and the rights of indigenous peoples”, Matheus emphasizes. 

Three months before the Resolution 191/2021 came out, the Manaus Municipality published the Law no. 2,781, which established the creation of the municipal indigenous school category, job posts for indigenous teaching professionals, the regularization of spaces for studies of the indigenous native languages and traditional knowledge in the municipal education network in Manaus. “There were two years of debates, we ended 2021 with the birth of new hope for Warao education. These rights also extend to indigenous peoples of any nationality residing in Manaus. And, for sure, 2022 will be a year to put new decisions into practice to strengthen even more the guarantees like these”, Edson Bahia, Emergency, Coordinator Aldeias Infantis SOS, informs.

After the approval of resolution 191/2021, the next steps turn to the participation of the Warao people in assemblies, such as the Indigenous School Education Council of Amazonas and indigenous organizations of Amazonas, and, especially, championing their own ways of organizing and make decisions. “Now the Warao people want to strengthen educational demands by building schools, hiring and training Warao teachers, formulating a pedagogical project and curricula suited to their ways of thinking and conceiving education”, explains Paulo Roberto Ferreira, who acted as consultant for the Aldeias Infantis in the process of claiming the rights to Warao education.

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