In the evening of May 27, Instituto Apompaz celebrated its tenth birthday with a special seminar on Education, Youth and Social Participation in the Avançar Community Centre in Bairro da Paz, Salvador, Bahia.
Apompaz is a voluntary organisation that was created by a group of young people living in the neighbourhood itself to give a grassroots impetus to the social development of their communities by valorising education, promoting socio-cultural and creative activities, and running a community radio service. It has played an important role in fostering the growing participation in university education of young people from this relatively deprived and unjustly socially stigmatised but always combative and organised community.
In recognition of this contribution, the rector of the Federal University, João Carlos Salles, came in person to Bairro da Paz to participate in the seminar alongside community leaders, teachers from local schools, parents, and young people who were already studying at university or hoped to do so in the future.
The rector’s participation sent an important message about the Federal University’s continuing commitment to social inclusiveness in what are currently very difficult times. The current financial austerity drive of the federal government has resulted in a budget cut of 40%, and UFBA already had a deficit of R$ 25 million from 2014.
Anyone who has worked with students from Bairro da Paz’s schools and at the university itself, as my wife and I have, must be concerned that the futures of really bright and committed young people may be compromised by cuts that represent a literal false economy for a country whose principal development deficit lies in education . But ten years on, Apompaz certainly had a good many achievements to celebrate. It was a fantastic plus that the rector chose to recognise that in person, and a privilege for all of us who came from outside the community to add our applause.