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New Brazil Government Drops ‘Diversity' from School Books

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro arrives for the inauguration ceremony of his new naval commander, Ilques Barbosa Junior, at the Naval Club in Brasilia, Jan. 9, 2019.

School textbooks in Brazil will no longer need to highlight the country's ethnic diversity under rule changes brought in under the government of new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The revised education ministry guidelines, a copy of which was seen by AFP, shows a range of modified criteria for books to be used in the curricula of public schools. It was dated Jan. 2, the day after Bolsonaro took office.

One of its provisions says textbooks are no longer required to contain illustrations showing the "ethnic diversity of the Brazilian population."

The change means that — even though more than half of Brazil's population is black or of mixed race — a school book showing only white characters would be deemed acceptable for classrooms.

Another previous requirement that positive images of women be shown has been deleted in the new rules.

So has an obligation for the textbooks to contain no spelling mistakes or printing errors.

However a previous requirement that preconceptions on sexual orientation be avoided was maintained.

Ideological campaign

Since assuming the presidency, Bolsonaro has embarked on an ideological campaign to promote his ultraconservative ideas and values, and to erase any trace of the 2003-2016 leftwing government Brazil had.

Before becoming leader, Bolsonaro was best known during nearly three decades as a lawmaker for his racist, misogynist and anti-gay comments.

His education minister, Ricardo Velez Rodriguez, has promised to stamp out "cultural Marxism" and gender-identity "ideology."