By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Education Minister of Brazil, Ricardo Velez Rodriguez, received a wave of criticism after sending an e-mail to schools across the country Monday night asking educators to videotape students singing the country’s national anthem and reciting President Bolsonaro’s campaign slogan “Brazil Above Everyone, God Above All”.

Brazil,Education Minister Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, sent controversial email to schools across Brazil.
Education Minister Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, sent controversial email to schools across Brazil, photo by Marcelo Camargo/Agencia Brasil.

“Is it even that the priority of the Ministry of Education (MEC) of our country should be to record students singing the national anthem?”, asked UBES (Brazilian Union of High School Students) President, Pedro Gorki, in a video on social media.

By Tuesday afternoon, Velez Rodriguez had released another e-mail apologizing for the message and stating that the having the students recite the slogan used in the Bolsonaro campaign was a mistake.

“I realized the error and took out that sentence. I (also) took out the corresponding part about videotaping without parental permission,” said the minister, adding that if something is published it will be with the authorization of the students’ legal guardians.

According to the note by the MEC, the recording of the execution of the National Anthem must be preceded by legal authorization of the filmed person or his/her guardian.

To ‘fulfill’ the minister’s request, UBES created the campaign #MinhaEscolaDeVerdade (#MyRealSchool) which calls for students to videotape their schools: with leaky ceilings, broken furniture, no teachers and unkempt grounds.

“Let’s show the real problems in the classroom, which are the leaky ceilings of our room, which are the classrooms without a teacher, because they do not pay salary, which are the courtyards and the libraries closed because they have no maintenance, which are the broken playgrounds of our school,” adds Pedro Gorki, president of Ubes, on the entity’s Facebook page.

According to the entity, many students have already participated in the campaign, publishing videos of degraded school grounds and classrooms.

“We students do not just want to sing the national anthem but build a great nation and the public school of our dreams,” says Gorki in the campaign video.

Brazil’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Citizen’s Rights (PFDC), also sent a request to the Ministry for clarification of Minister Vélez Rodriguez’s email.

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