Increase in immigrant students requires teachers to teach less Eurocentric, says sociologist

These young people do not see their “history represented in their manuals”

Sociologist Cristina Roldão considered that the diversity of students' origins is creating new challenges for teachers and teaching, who must avoid a Eurocentric discourse and seek to include other cultural perspectives.

«The fact that we have more and more diverse classes, whether black students from Portuguese-speaking countries, Afro-Brazilians or even from other contexts» requires «another type of demand and care» on the part of the education system, he argued.

These young people do not see their “history represented in their manuals” or even the values ​​with which they grew up.

This is particularly evident in history subjects but also in other areas of knowledge.

“It is not enough to put a photo of Amílcar Cabral [historical leader of the independence activists of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde]” and say that the manual is inclusive, highlighted the researcher and higher education teacher.

When dealing with colonialism, one must include «the status of indigeneity, which was a Portuguese-style legal 'apartheid'», he exemplified.

What Cristina Roldão asks is that «the violence» of Portuguese colonialism is not hidden, so «not to give tools to deconstruct racism in current Portuguese society». All because racism, with ethnic segmentation of colonized peoples, was the way for an «empire, which was always semi-peripheral, to build its power».

«In Portuguese history, the colonial past is so alive in the people who are present in the institutions that resist and that are direct continuations» of the domination over other peoples, that «I cannot ignore the problems of the past without recognizing privileges that persist in society» today, he highlighted.

This feeling of white cultural superiority in Portugal is evident in the studies carried out. A recent survey, promoted by the Institute of Social Sciences, indicates that more than half of the Portuguese population «believes that there are races superior to others from a biological point of view and from a civilizational and cultural point of view».

«We cannot convey the idea that everything is fine without resolving this first», stated the researcher who criticized the use of intercultural discourse, without recognizing the past.

The theoretical concept of interculturality, in which there is coexistence between various cultures, today “fits very well with lusotropicalism”, a doctrine promoted by the Estado Novo which stated that the Portuguese had a milder colonialism than other empires.

In other countries, this debate on recognizing past mistakes is more advanced.

The delay in Portugal, said Cristina Roldão, has to do «with the very specificity of Portuguese colonialism, which is colonialism with fascism», which mixes the “conditions of oppression and blockade”, which makes it difficult for “the possibility of a critical narrative”.

And the sociologist asks that Portugal look at the English or Brazilian example, where this debate is more advanced, and collect contributions from Portuguese-speaking African countries.

«We need to tell another story, include other perspectives, because there is a history of a lot of violence that we need to accept» and that «past still greatly influences our present», he summarized.

To this end, it is necessary to ensure greater diversity in various parts of society and, in the case of teaching, there is a lack of curricula that include these concerns, but also a “greater ethnic-racial representation of the teaching staff”.

«I'm not defending quotas, that's another discussion, but we also need to have more black people teaching. I'm not saying that only black people can study the Portuguese colonial past, but they also have to be present in this discussion and in what is the thinking about pedagogy in Portugal», he concluded.