More information in Portuguese about this award-winning program.
Brazilian legislation guarantees the Indian peoples a differentiated and high quality education. However, there are many obstacles such as the lack of resources and trained staff, and the difficulty in supervision by the federal government. The few state governments with projects in this area carry out isolated actions, which do not represent implementation of an educational policy or of a structure that guarantees the functioning of teacher training courses, educational control, construction of schools and production and distribution of specific school materials.
Acre is one of the only states where the guidelines set out in federal legislation are actually implemented. The Program for Differentiated and Bilingual Intercultural Training of Indian Teachers, carried out by the state government, was the first experience of Indian education in the Country that began with the Indians themselves, starting in 1983, when the Acre Pro-Indian Commission (CPI/AC) held the 1st Training Course of Indian Teachers, at the request of Indian leaderships of the state. The Program was structured on the expectations of the Indians as to obtaining knowledge that would guarantee ownership and management of their lands and the acquisition of means to better the quality of life of their communities. They sought to strengthen their native language, customs and traditions and to maintain their culture of hunter-gatherers.
This experience, besides being a pioneer in its area, is considered to be one of the most important in the area of Indian schooling in Brazil, for having developed a pedagogical practice (training courses, pedagogical accompaniment and didactic material) that inspired other Indian teacher training courses implemented in the Country. The Indian teacher represents the link between traditional knowledge and non-Indian knowledge. The training course is given to an average 200 people a year, with focus on the following subjects: mathematics, Portuguese and Indian language, science, geography, history and art. During the course teaching materials are produced, written in several Indian languages. The course is an important meeting point for Indian teachers of the several ethnicities of the state.
Since 1999, the government has sought to broaden Program reach, investing in construction of schools in Indian villages, in hiring of teaching staff and in organizing inspection. In 2003, the Special Department of Indian Peoples (SEPI) was created, a consulting organ with the role of representing Indian interests in initiatives of the Acre government. SEPI became one of the partners of the Department of Education in executing the Program. Besides SEPI and the Pro-Indian Commission, the Program acts in partnership with Funai, with the National Health Foundation (Funasa), the Union of Indian Nations of Acre and South Amazonas (UNI) and the Missionary Indian Council (CIMI).
Currently, there are 130 Indian schools, 95 of which are linked to the state school network and 35 to the municipal network. In 2003, 4,257 students were enrolled in these schools. Most offer from 1st to 4th grade; a few from 5th to 8th grade; and as from 2005, some schools will begin to offer high school education. There are over 65 published works of Indian authorship, edited by the CPI/AC, many of which are in Indian languages.
One of the most important results of the Program was to value Indian ethnicities, with their traditions and culture. Another important result was to promote a greater tolerance between the 14 ethnicities present in the state (without counting isolated peoples), overcoming traditional rivalries by means of taking part in the teacher training courses. The courses have contributed towards joint action by the several tribes and represent a moment of political articulation.