João Zanetic (1943-2024)

João Zanetic (1943-2024)


Tribute to the recently deceased physicist, educator and political activist

On April 25, we lost our friend, colleague and professor João Zanetic. And write a few lines about it, a task requested by the site's editors the earth is round, without repeating the many things already remembered, said and written, it could seem difficult.[I] But there are so many activities that João Zanetic developed and so many facets of his intellectual work and his activism that we always find several things to remember without being repetitive.

His contribution was fundamental to the creation, in 1979, of the Brazilian Journal of Physics Teaching, a publication of which he was, for a long time, the first editor. A Brazilian Journal of Physics Teaching It has been consolidating and is today an important publication and its scope and repercussion goes beyond the limits of the country. The existence of this magazine as well as the academic work developed by João Zanetic contributed enormously to the advancement of research in physics teaching and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the country.

The contributions of João Z, as he was also affectionately called, to the areas of history of physics and epistemology were and are fundamental to the consolidation of knowledge and science literature in Brazil. Thanks to the training of dozens of masters and doctors, in addition to countless orientations in scientific initiation and dozens of academic works, articles and authorship or co-authorship of several books, his contributions spread across the country.

João Zanetic's commitment to public education is longstanding. In the 1970s, he began a battle against a secondary education reform proposed by the dictatorship that, like the one we now face, lowered secondary education in public schools. In those struggles, he was an important interlocutor with the media and a spokesperson for academia and educators in criticizing the project.

It is necessary to note that that reform, at least partially blocked thanks to the work of João Zanetic, is not very different from the one now under discussion, presented, approved and promulgated in the terrible period of Michel Temer/Jair Bolsonaro, dubbed the New Secondary Education. In fact, a new attempt is being made to lower public secondary education and, unfortunately, we will not be able to count on João Zanetic's collaboration in facing this difficulty in our path. Let's be inspired by your ability to expend creative and fighting energy to face this current challenge, which has caused so much wear and tear on Brazilian public education.

The strong commitment to defending state public education meant that, more recently, João Zanetic participated in the preparation of proposals for a State Education Plan for the state of São Paulo, in 2003 and 2015. These proposals were transformed into bills ( PLs 1074/2003 and 1035, of 2015), which with many dozens of pages made a broad and detailed diagnosis of education problems in the state, and, based on it, presented proposals on how to face and change this reality. Unfortunately, the correlation of forces prevented his success in the São Paulo Legislative Assembly, but it did not discourage those people who, motivated by João Zanetic, continue and will continue in the fight.

João Zanetic was president of Adusp twice, in the periods 1991-1993 and 2009-2011 and vice-president in the period 2005 to 2007. Among his many union activities is the effort to create a forum to bring together workers from the three state universities in São Paulo , Unesp, Unicamp and USP.

Initially, this articulation only included teaching entities: Adusp, Adunesp and Adunicamp. Subsequently, this forum expanded its scope by including entities representing technical and administrative employees from the three state universities in São Paulo and the Paula Souza Center in what is now called Fórum das Seis.

His work and activism were not restricted to academic circles. João Zanetic joined the fight in defense of the USP University Hospital, vital health equipment for the entire population, not just those living in the Butantã region, since, as it is part of the SUS, it responds to referrals from other regions.

For those who knew him, it is unnecessary to add to the list of professor João Zanetic's academic, social, cultural and political activities; For those who didn't know him, it would take many, many pages to describe his contributions. But we cannot forget his commitment to democracy and socialism, ideals that guided his actions and for which he fought, always with hope and joy. It was a privilege to live with him for more than half a century!

*Otaviano Helene is a senior professor at the USP Physics Institute.


[I] See the many tributes to João Zanetic at

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