Quilombola education challenges

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The reality of quilombola education is one of negligence by the public power regarding its specificities

Quilombos were the main institution to carry out resistance to the slave system in Brazil during its entire period of existence. Quilombos continued to exist after slavery was abolished, maintaining their character of resistance due to the continuity of the racial system of domination that only updated its racial devices, using the concept of philosopher Sueli Carneiro (2005).

The devices of racialities are understood as the mechanisms through which institutional and social dynamics of marginalization, exploitation and oppression of the black population are operationalized, making them black bodies marked by the signs of death and domination. The reality is that these devices of raciality continue to reproduce the racism that continues to constitute the Brazilian reality from the process that followed abolition to the present day.

The book Senzala Rebellions, by Clóvis Moura, released in 1959, was the first work in Brazilian historiography to carry out a systematic survey of black rebellions, demonstrating with historical facts arising from a deep documentary research, the spread of black rebellion throughout the Brazilian territory since the beginning of the process of enslavement of Africans. The rebellion of enslaved people took different forms, such as quilombos, insurrections and guerrillas.

The work contradicted the myth that until then appeared as a scientific truth that slavery in Brazil had been sustained due to a passive accommodation of blacks to slave exploitation, hiding and silencing the historic process of struggles against slavery that from the beginning was promoted by the enslaved against their forced and degraded condition.

The quilombola movement thus has a historical scope that makes this movement the longest-lived Brazilian social movement, with existence and national scope for more than four centuries. Despite this, it is very common for Brazilians who live in large urban centers to still think of quilombos as something from the past, not knowing that there are currently thousands of quilombola communities in Brazil in territories inhabited by black populations for centuries, this reality is clearly a consequence of racism and the devaluation of the culture of African descent, which continues to make black reality and culture unfeasible.

According to Campos and Gallinari (2017), the Palmares Foundation registered 2847 remaining Quilombos communities in 2016, also learn data from the Censo Data Escola Brasil, carried out by the National Institute of Educational Studies and Research Anísio Teixeira (INEP), recording that in In 2014, Brazil had 2.248 schools located in the so-called Quilombos remnant communities.

These general data seem currently underestimated, the IBGE, which despite not having an estimate of the number of the quilombola population, in a 2019 publication recorded that in Brazil there are 5.972 quilombola locations, divided into 1.672 Brazilian municipalities. These data, even with significant differences in methodology, leave no doubt regarding the great scope and relevance that quilombola communities have in Brazil today, despite suffering from invisibility, racism and lack of title to their lands, with quilombola territory being still today the scene of conflicts over the right to land.

In a recent debate with Professor Evanilson Tavares de França, who teaches in the Quilombola community Mussuca in Sergipe and is a specialist in Quilombola education, it was emphasized how the dilemmas for Quilombola education have their specificities but at the same time are strongly related to the dilemmas for a anti-racist education in general, demanding strong action from social movements for its implementation.

Despite the movements having managed to create mechanisms to include the needs of curricular change an anti-racist education, conquering laws and resolutions, as the law 10.639 determines the mandatory teaching of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture in Brazilian public schools and the CNE/CEB Resolution No. 8, of November 20, 2012, defines national curriculum guidelines for quilombola school education in basic education.

In practice, these legal provisions lack specific allocation of resources and political prioritization, so that the application of these laws often does not occur in practice. Recent research by Instituto Alana and Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra reveals that only 29% of Brazilian municipalities carry out consistent actions to implement Law 10.639 in Brazilian schools, in other words, 71% of municipal education departments have not adopted effective enforcement measures of Law 10.639. (Basílio, 2023).

From the overview presented by Professor Evanilson Tavares de França, the reality of quilombola education is also one of negligence by the public power regarding its specificities, demanding an anti-racist education, an appreciation of local traditional knowledge and oral culture, a construction of curriculum and school dynamics that consider the community, welcoming it, and no longer being a hostile factor as the school institution often does when reproducing racism.

I conclude by emphasizing that the construction of an anti-racist education is only possible from the mobilization of social movements against racism, with the participation of interested teachers and the community surrounding the school, the advance of anti-racism in schools has to be understood as part of historical quilombola resistance, as well as a reinforcement and strengthening of the historical memory of anti-racist struggles.

“Gabriel de Araujo Silva is studying philosophy at Unicamp.


BASILIO, Andrea. 71% of cities do not comply with the law on Afro-Brazilian education and culture. For coming. 2023. Available at: https://porvir.org/71-das-cidades-nao-cumprem-lei-do-ensino-e-cultura-afro-brasileira/

CAMPOS, Margarida Cássia; GALLINARI, Tainara Sussai. Quilombola school education and quilombola schools in Brazil. Nera Magazine, year 20, nº 35, Jan/Apr, 2017.

CARNEIRO, Aparecida Sueli. The construction of the other as non-being as the foundation of being. 2005. Thesis (Doctorate) – University of São Paulo, São Paulo, 2005. Available at: https://repositorio.usp.br/item/001465832

MOURA, Clovis. Senzala Rebellions. Bookstore Editora de Ciências Humanas. São Paulo, 1981.

IBGE. Quilombolas in Brazil. Educates IBGE Youth. 2019. Available at: https://educa.ibge.gov.br/jovens/materias-especiais/21311-quilombolas-no-brasil.html#:~:text=O%20IBGE%20n%C3%A3o%20tem%20uma,de%20localidades%20ind%C3%ADgenas%20(827).

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