Bolsonaro government accused of censoring school exams in Brazil


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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday dismissed controversy over allegations his government censored questions on the high school exit exam in Brazil, saying he was proud the test is now starting to “look like this administration.”

The far-right president has long criticized what he sees as left-wing bias in the National Secondary Education Examination, or ENEM, the standardized test that Brazilian students take at the end of high school that plays a key role in university admission.

The row erupted last week when 37 education ministry officials resigned weeks from the test, scheduled for November 21 and 28.

Some alleged in a television interview on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity, that their superiors forced them to change exam questions, subjecting them to “intolerable pressure” and “harassment”.

One said his boss demanded that more than 20 questions be removed from the 180-question exam, which mainly features multiple-choice questions in math, science, history, language and other subjects.

“These were mostly questions about the recent history of the country,” the former Globo TV official said, adding that two new versions of the test were to be drafted at that time.

Bolsonaro has often attacked the political and cultural prejudices perceived in the ENEM, accusations rejected by education experts.

Shortly after winning the 2018 presidential election, he lashed out at a question about LGBT history, saying: “Don’t worry, next year there will be no more questions. like that.”

Last January, he criticized a question about the big difference in salary between the biggest stars of Brazilian men’s and women’s football, Neymar and Marta.

“There are still some ridiculous questions, comparing a woman and a man playing football. There is no comparison. Women’s football is still not a reality in Brazil,” he said.

All-time top scorer in World Cup tournaments – men or women – Marta has been named the world’s best player six times.

Downplaying the latest controversy, Bolsonaro said on a trip to Dubai that he sees the change in exam as an accomplishment.

“Questions about ENEM are starting to resemble this administration,” he said.

The comment sparked an uproar in Brazil, leading opposition lawmakers to announce that they would order Education Minister Milton Ribeiro to appear before Congress to respond to allegations of censorship of the government review.

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