Reinventing Educational Spaces, Building Active Citizenship: Two Brazilian Experiences

  • Tristan McCowan
  • Luís Armando Gandin
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 22)

When Leslie Bethell (2000) states that, “Brazil is a democracy of voters, not yet a democracy of citizens”, he is highlighting two significant aspects of the country. Firstly, the fact that all people can vote in Brazil, and nearly all do (it is obligatory for those aged 18–70), is indicative of a range of advances in the twentieth-century that ensured universal formal rights. The Constitution of 1988 and the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent of 1990 form part of an edifice of official guarantees to the people, including that of compulsory education from 7 to 14 years. Ye t the progressive and enlightened nature of much Brazilian legislation and institutional structures is matched by the ineffectiveness and incompleteness of their implementation. Civil rights are generally upheld only in proportion to the wealth of the individuals involved, and the poorest have next to no social rights. In the political sphere, there is formal, but not effective, participation.

In general terms, it is possible to see citizenship as consisting of two strands: the passive, relating to the set of rights that the State guarantees to uphold for the individual, and the active, relating to the participation of the individual in the functioning of the State. The two major paradigms of citizenship — liberal and civic republican — each focus principally on one of these two elements, the former on rights and the latter on active participation (Heater, 1999; Kymlicka, 2002). Ye t it can be argued that citizenship will only be effective if attention is paid to both, with citizens ensured of their civil, political and social rights (in T. H. Marshall's [1950] conception) and taking an active part in decision-making, whether at the local or national level.


Social Movement Political Participation Citizenship Education Thematic Complex Political Sphere 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Azevedo, J. C. (1999b). Escola, democracia e cidadania. In C. Simon, D. D. Busetti, E. Viero, & L. W. Ferreira (Eds.), Escola cidadã: Trajetórias (pp. 11–33). Porto Alegre, Brazil: Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre — Secretaria Municipal de Educação.Google Scholar
  2. Azevedo, J. C. (2000). Escola cidadã: Desafios, diálogos e travessias. Petrópolis, Brazil: Vozes.Google Scholar
  3. Bethell, L. (2000). Politics in Brazil: From elections without democracy to democracy without citizenship. Daedalus, 129(2), 1–27.Google Scholar
  4. Brandford, S. & Rocha, J. (2002). Cutting the wire. London: Latin American Bureau.Google Scholar
  5. Caldart, R. S. (2000). O MST e a formação dos sem terra: O movimento social como princípio educativo. In P. Gentili & G. Frigotto (Eds.), Cidadania negada: Políticas de Exclusão na Educação e no Trabalho. São Paulo: Cortez.Google Scholar
  6. Caldart, R. S. (1997). Educação em Movimento: Formação de Educadoras e Educadores no MST. Petropolis, Editora Vozes.Google Scholar
  7. Caldart, R. S. (1999). Pedagogia do Movimento Sem Terra: a Escola é Mais que Escola. Petropolis: Editora Vozes.Google Scholar
  8. Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Sheed & Ward.Google Scholar
  9. Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education. Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey.Google Scholar
  10. Freire, P. (1994). Pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  11. Gandin, L. A. (2006). Creating real alternatives to neo-liberal policies in education: The citizen school project. In M. W. Apple and K. Buras (Eds.), The subaltern speak: Curriculum, power, and educational struggles. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Gandin, L., & Apple, M. W. (2002). Challenging neo-liberalism, building democracy: Creating the citizen school in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Journal of Education Policy, 17(2), 259–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Genro, T. (1999). Cidadania, emancipação e cidade. In L. H. Silva (Ed.), Escola cidadã: Teoria e prática (pp. 7–11). Petrópolis, Brazil: Vozes.Google Scholar
  14. Gentili, P. (Ed.) (1995). Pedagogia da Exclusão: Critica ao neoliberalismo em educação. Petropolis: Vozes.Google Scholar
  15. Gentili, P., & Frigotto, G. (Eds.) (2000). A cidadania negada: Políticas de exclusão na educação e no tra- balho. Buenos Aires: CLACSO.Google Scholar
  16. Gentili, P., & McCowan, T. (Eds.) (2003). Reinventar a Escola Publica: Politica educacional para um novo Brasil. Petropolis: Vozes.Google Scholar
  17. Gitlin, A. (2001). Bounding teacher decision making: The threat of intensification. Educational Policy, 15(2), 227–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Havighurst, R. J. & Moreira, J. R. (1965). Society and education in Brazil. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  19. Heater, D. (1999). What is citizenship? Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. INEP (2003). Censo da educação superior 2002. Brasília: INEP.Google Scholar
  21. Knijnik, G. (1996). Exclusão e Resistencia: Educação Matemática e Legitimidade. Porto Alegre: Artes Médicas Sul.Google Scholar
  22. Knijnik, G. (1998). Ethnomathematics and the Brazilian landless people education. Paper presented at the first international conference on ethnomathematics, University of Granada.Google Scholar
  23. Kymlicka, W. (2002). Contemporary political philosophy: An introduction (2nd edn.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  24. Louro, G. L. (1986). História, Educação e Sociedade no Rio Grande do Sul. Porto Alegre: Educação e Realidade Edições.Google Scholar
  25. Marshall, T. H. (1950). Citizenship and social class and other essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Martins, J. de S. (2000). Reforma agrária: O Impossível Diálogo. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo.Google Scholar
  27. McCowan, T. (2006a). The foundations of critical questioning in citizenship education. Currículo Sem Fronteiras [Curriculum Without Borders], 6(2), online at, accessed 2 April 2007.
  28. McCowan, T. (2006b). Educating citizens for participatory democracy: A case study of local government education policy in pelotas, Brazil. International Journal of Educational Development, 26(5), 456–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCowan, T. (2003). Participation and Education in the Landless People's Movement of Brazil. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 1(1), available online at Accessed 15 June, 2004.
  30. MST (2005). MST, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra. Online at, accessed on 15 November 2005.
  31. MST (2004). Educação no MST: Balanço 20 Anos (Boletim da Educação no. 9). São Paulo, MST Setor de Educação.Google Scholar
  32. MST (2001a). A historia da luta pela terra e o MST. São Paulo: Expressão Popular.Google Scholar
  33. MST (2001b). Escola Itinerante: uma Pratica Pedagógica em Acampamentos (Coleção Fazendo Escola). São Paulo: MST Setor de Educação.Google Scholar
  34. MST (1999). Como Fazemos a Escola de Educação Fundamental (Caderno de Educação no. 9). Veranópolis, ITERRA.Google Scholar
  35. MST (1995). Como Fazer a Escola que Queremos: o Planejamento (Caderno de Educação no. 6). São Paulo: MST Setor de Educação.Google Scholar
  36. MST (1994). Alfabetização de Jovens e Adultos: Como Organizar (Caderno de Educação no. 3). São Paulo: MST Setor de Educação.Google Scholar
  37. Navarro, Z. (2001). “Mobilização sem emancipação” — As lutas sociais dos sem-terra no Brasil. In B. de Sousa Santos (Ed.), Reinventando a Emancipação Social. São Paulo: Record.Google Scholar
  38. Page, R. N. (2001). Common sense: A form of teacher knowledge. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 33(5), 525–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. SMED (1999a). Ciclos de formação – Proposta político-pedagógica da Escola Cidadã. Cadernos Pedagogicos, 9(1), 1–111Google Scholar
  40. SMED (1999b). Official Homepage of the SMED. Retrieved December 15, 1999, from
  41. Thompson, E. (1980) The making of the English working class. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  42. UNDP (2006). Human development report 2006. Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  43. UNESCO (2004). Statistical tables: Education. Available online at, accessed 14 December 2004.
  44. Unterhalter, E. (1999). Citizenship, difference and education: Reflections inspired by the South African transition. In P. Werbner & N. Yuval-Davis (Eds.), Women, citizenship and difference. London: Zed. Weinberg, M. (2004). Madraçais do MST. Veja, April 2004.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tristan McCowan
  • Luís Armando Gandin
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal University Rio Grande do SulBrazil

Personalised recommendations