São Paulo Statement
Civil Society Reaffirming the Right to Education in Lusophone Countries
The Lusophone national networks and education civil society from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe gathered in Sao Paulo / Brazil, from May 10th to May 15th 2011 to take part in the Consensus-building Workshop with Lusophone countries, the kick-off activity of the South-South Cooperation Programme with Lusophone Countries (SSCP-Lusophone). One of the objectives of the meeting was to initiate discussion and establishment of an international network, potentially a Lusophone Education Network.
In 2015, the time for countries to meet the Education For All Goals runs out, and that Treaty was signed by Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe. None of these countries will fulfill the commitment. For the national networks and organizations represented here, it is clear that the EFA goals are only a minimum agenda in order to ensuring good quality public education for their citizens.
The networks and organizations represented here are imbued with the commitment to create and strengthen an international network to share experiences and collectively discuss the contexts and challenges faced by civil society in Lusophone countries with regard to ensuring the Human Right to Education universally, promoting the development and autonomy of its citizens as well as social justice and social, political and economic development in their countries. We hereby call the attention of Nations and the international community for some important aspects and situations in the Lusophone countries in relation to the struggle of civil society to ensure the right to education.
The democratic principle is at stake. The strengthening of Democracy as a political asset is one of the biggest challenges facing the African Lusophone countries. Confidence in public institutions, an essential factor in democratic nations, is built through public and transparent procedures, in which civil society participation and social control are seen as a right to be enforced. However, while countries such as Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe call themselves democracies, society in general is still subject to different and arbitrary sanctions filed by the governments that violate civil and political liberties. Add to this the fact that civil society still faces a number of barriers to participation in public affairs. Although Brazil enjoys some economic, social and political development, the country also faces the challenge of democracy put into effect as a whole, for instance, the need to enforce universal human rights (the right to education) and the need to improve and strengthen the mechanisms and spaces of social control. We need a paradigm shift in relations between Lusophone African governments and its civil society through the establishment of relationships that are more formal and institutionalized, observing procedures, and times and place that value and strengthen democracy and social participation as intrinsic values for political action nationally and internationally.
The difficulty of access to information, data and national statistics on the actual social and economic situation as well as education, countries also constitutes a great obstacle to intervention and advocacy of civil society in the discussion of national education policies. The ongoing process of misinformation promoted by politicians and public managers can only serve private interests in detriment of the common good. It is urgent that Lusophone African governments create mechanisms for the development, publication and dissemination of data and statistics, being more transparent about the real situation of education and other policies. The international community must put pressure on governments and act in partnership with national networks to achieve that goal.
It is the responsibility of civil society in each country to fight authoritarian processes together to strengthen democracy. The media plays a fundamental role in this process. However, the relationship between media and governments and between the media and civil society in Lusophone African countries also requires a paradigm shift, promoting a more unbiased and less commercialized activity in the mission of educating and informing society about the public events and national debates
The participation of civil society in the discussion of national education is a challenge to be overcome. The expansion and strengthening of advocacy organizations and civil society networks should not be conditioned on the availability of resources, although the scarcity of resources, whether financial or not, is a major obstacle to the strengthening of national networks, which are inserted in complex socio-economic contexts. The relationship between civil society organizations in Lusophone African countries have been negatively influenced by this lack of resources, which has hindered the establishment of strong networks and independent of the particular interests of each organization.
This lack of resources has been increasing in recent years, under the justification of international economic crisis or under a mistaken assessment that there has been a significant social development in these countries that would allow a review of strategies for international cooperation. National realities, especially in terms of social and political context, cannot be ignored by the international community which is fighting for social justice and human rights guarantees. It is essential that international organizations and the international community as a whole support the creation of this Lusophone network, which aggregates countries and economic realities, political, social and cultural very similar, although each national situation is marked by its specific historical development. The networks and organizations represented here claims that it is essential developing a more accurate diagnosis of the real social and political needs of these countries.
The networks and organizations here undersigned reaffirm their commitment to the struggle to guarantee the Universal Human Right to Education and call the international community to look after the national procedures in Lusophone countries, strengthening the role of civil society in education, which has long been dedicated to this cause.
Angola – Angolan Civil Society Network for Education for All
Brazil – Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education
Cape Verde – RNCEPT-CV
Guinea-Bissau – RECEPT-GB
Mozambique – MEPT-Mozambique
São Tomé e Principe – Fundação Criança e Juventude
São Tomé e Principe – Flimá – Educação e Desenvolvimento