Ten years of law 10.639/2003 obligating schools to teach African/Afro-Brazilian History; law yet to be fully implemented

Arísia Barros regrets the lack of applicability of the law

Note from BW of Brazil: The necessity of visibility in the media and school curriculum is extremely important in a country like Brazil where Afro-Brazilians, though the majority of the country’s nearly 200 million citizens, are nearly invisible in many areas of society. Studies have shown that this invisibility often leads to a fragmentation and/or rejection of identity or feelings of shame in black children and teens. So in 2003, high hopes were riding on the creation of a law to address this issue in schools. A decade later, there is still hope but also frustration and disappointment.

 by Jobison Barros

Afro-Brazilian education in the country’s public and private schools is still a concern for the coordinator of the Instituto de Raízes de Áfricas (Institute of the Roots of Africa), Arísia Barros. On Wednesday, January 9th, Law No.10.639/03, which made the teaching of African and Afro-Brazilian Culture and History obligatory in Brazilians schools, passed the tenth year of its existence, but up to the moment, it has been forgotten by the State and most teachers. The law was created on January 9th, 2003.

Afro Brazilians

As Barros explained, the law came about to alter the Maximum Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education, seeking to promote a deconstruction of inferior stereotypes of the black population by means of a Policy of Transversality. The object would not be to guarantee more in this discipline in the school curriculum, but rather work education about African people into existing subjects, like the Portuguese Language, Literature, History and Geography.


“If this law was executed in practice, students would have the opportunity to know and become familiar with what blacks have to offer, but the bias began since the policy. That is, if one doesn’t do her part, how will as the educational sector act (on it), because it depends on her? It’s necessary to deconstruct this world view, common sense still prevails in a society that continues prejudices and beliefs without foundation,” said Arísia.

The coordinator also said that in five years, it was at the forefront of protests in 82 cities in the northeastern state of Alagoas, in an attempt to deploy African education in learning institutions. Many educators have joined the initiative, but, over time, there was an overall weakness on the part of managers. “Silence still reigns in the school environment, and it’s now been a decade of a forgotten law. Thus, young people are being educated without this vision and, increasingly closer to the prejudicial vision (which has been) registered since the beginning of slavery.”

About Marques Travae 3304 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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