Indigenous policies

From Funai to Education and Culture Department (MEC)

By Luis Donisete Benzi Grupioni

The transfer of responsibility and coordination of educational initiatives in Indigenous Territory from the indigenous organ (Funai) to the Education Department [working with the state departments of education upon decree of the President of Brazil (no. 26/91)], is the cause of many of the changes in the sector. This transfer made it possible - even though it has not actually happened yet - for the indigenous schools to be incorporated into the country's educational system and for the "bilingual monitors" to be formally educated and respected as education professionals; it also made it possible for the fulfillment of the educational needs of Native Brazilians to be treated as a public policy, responsibility of the State. The transfer of responsibilities from the indigenous organ to religious missions in order to meet the educational needs of Native Brazilians marked the end of a period.

This is an ongoing process. It is possible to list several positive aspects of this responsibility transfer which triggered the involvement of other public sectors, opening new communication channels for the Native Brazilians. It is also possible to point out the reluctance of these very sectors to accept the indigenous schools and respect the right of Native Brazilians to special education, a task which requires new theoretical, methodological, and administrative approach