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religion at school

Clemir Fernandes

is a researcher at ISER.

With the general theme “religion and ethnocentrism”, on the morning of November 10th, a lecture was given to the teachers and coordinators of the Municipal School Teotônio Vilela, in the neighborhood of Complex da Maré, Rio de Janeiro, with diverse reflections aiming to contribute to the understanding of such a phenomenon and also in building greater respect for religious diversity, or even those without religion, in the educational context.

Located in an area marked by the presence of drug trafficking, the school has about two thousand students and dozens of teachers. These participated actively in the dialogue and debate that followed the lecture, several of them evoking their different religious affiliations or the complete lack of them, always emphasizing difficulties and possibilities of dealing with such a theme in the educational environment. A teacher narrated the case of a student who was the target of discrimination due to his initiation into an Afro-Brazilian religion, generating heated discussions about the fact and about how to act to maintain respect, tolerance and acceptance of all, after all, the school It is a public space, secular and for the common good.

The central axis of the day revolved around the recognition of the different religious identities of students and teachers, or even the lack of them, the need for mutual respect, the perception of the beauty and richness of such religious differences, and, above all, the absolute understanding of that the school is a public space, that its teaching must be of collective interest and citizenship and never to defend one religion or belief to the detriment of another, including any belief.

Several questions presented by those present were answered and discussed with wisdom and depth by themselves, and the lecturer served at that moment more as a mediator and commentator, facilitating the interaction and production of reflections and knowledge.

This meeting is promoted by the Interdisciplinary Program to Support Schools (Proinape), of the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Department of Education, which throughout the year has already discussed other topics such as racism, violence, gender and sexuality. In the present meeting, which addressed the theme of religion, ISER was invited to speak and was represented by its collaborator, the sociologist Clemir Fernandes.