What does the COVID-19 crisis mean for us? Brazilian youth are speaking out

Stories shared by the Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education.

Invest and believe in Public Education!

In the year 2020 a virus appeared that shook us on a world scale. In Brazil, the pandemic has spread rapidly. Amid social distances, governmental measures (or lack of them), the different areas that make up our society have been adapting, each in its own way. Non-essential services closed, unemployment slammed at the door of several workers, and the people finally learned the value of health professionals.

With a preparation covered with uncertainties about the moment that would be experienced by the nation, the educational institutions were closed, from nurseries to universities.

As a young high school student, I try to understand what we are experiencing, all the crises that the country is going through (being them: health, political and economic), even though teaching was withdrawn from me. I remain with a lot of uncertainties as to whether we would have some form of teaching, and will be able to study for the long awaited National High School Exam (Enem) to enter university. All of this was paralyzed with no end in sight.

Public school students have always been left behind. The gap suffered by students in terms of content is undeniable. Even before the pandemic, we suffered from the lack or constant changes of teachers, the lack of repairs to infrastructures, even the delay and lack of materials. The current government considers investments in education as an expense, so much that there was a freeze on funds last year.

Additionally, students face many issues with distance learning classes. From lack of important resources such as cell phones, computers, internet, even psychological, financial and economic conditions, many students also suffer from lack of food, or from precarious homes. All of these things are ignored by the current government.

The bad coexistence with others due to lack of space and / or privacy, lack of housing comfort, and the tasks to perform within the house itself are part of the elements which contribute to students to disperse, and even forget about their academic tasks. The school environment is often seen as a refuge for many students who find it difficult to be at home.

It is worth mentioning also the difficulties that young people and adolescents encounter in dealing with their own feelings, when trying to understand the moment lived, their transformations as a human being, and again, the family environment in a time of extreme coexistence and confinement.

All of this is important in raising the debate on distance learning classes in public schools. It is important, in addition to students, teachers. Many, due to age, or lack of practice with technological devices, take a long time to adapt with a new teaching perspective, under an extremely delicate moment. Both teachers and students need an adaptation process, which was often overlooked due to the rush to complete the first two months.

Being confined at home, the mission of studying in the midst of all the situations mentioned above, becomes a virtually impossible task. It is very difficult to maintain concentration, to understand things only through texts, because we often have the content, but we do not receive explanations. The Public School has resisted at a critical moment in the country, with all the crises. The postponement of Enem was a temporary relief for students. But we must not forgot that students with good social conditions were not affected. Because they have a good study structure. This year’s Enem advertisement was exclusive to this privileged public, generating controversy. Not only we cannot, but we must not accept this kind of things. Phrases such as “a generation of new professionals will be lost”, “study in any way, from anywhere”. This type of messages does not reach all students, since, I repeat, Distance Learning is not egalitarian, the gap that is suffered by Public School students is undeniable. Speeches like this only strengthen the meritocratic discourse that has been imposed on us for years. We do not live in a country that promotes equity, but exclusion.

With that, I can say, although the Public School faces many difficulties, its importance is undeniable, and that there is a lot of potential in many of those who attend it. The Public School today represents resistance, and I believe that it fights like never before.

May this pandemic serve for you to see how the Public School needs improvement, INVESTMENT, because without it nothing can be done.

Without teachers, there is no other profession.

Without academic education, nothing can be done.

Recognize the service provided by Public Education.

Value Public Education.

And last but not least: Invest and believe in Public Education.

Kaylane da Silva Ribeiro, high school student from Guarulhos, from Vereador Antônio de Ré school.

From now on, who knows, they might think of us, not just as students or machines, but as people


Hello, my name is Ana Caroline, I have been without classroom lessons since March 19th. At first, I didn’t think it would be so challenging to have distance learning classes. I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t like that… Right when the teachers started sending the materials, I felt challenged to do everything during the same time I do in the face-to-face classes, because I really thought I could handle it.

I tried to adapt myself to the idea of doing everything during the same period and at the usual times, because I didn’t want to ruin my routine. The first two weeks were super good, but after that, much more started to come and I was no longer able to do it at the times I had planned. I started to divide the materials throughout my days. It worked, but not for long, because I was no longer sleeping properly, with the concern that I needed to finish everything quickly, but when I least expected it, the school already sent more things.

With all this, I started to get very anxious, and I was no longer having any routine, because I spent the day and night solving things for classes, solving school work, and especially trying to prove to myself that everything was right, but it wasn’t: I was already without any routine. When I closed a month of distance learning classes, I asked my colleagues if it was just me who was so anxious, and that was the surprise: it wasn’t just me. It really wasn’t easy, at least, not as I imagined.

So talking to them, we decided to send an e-mail to the school, asking for more time for us to send back the activities and exercises, and the response we received was not good. They told us that they couldn’t do anything because those subjects that we had in distance learning classes, would be the same as if we were in face-to-face classes. Then we started wondering if it really would be the same. It was much more than the regular workload, but even so we continued to do the activities. I have never been so anxious, because I wanted to deliver everything as soon as possible, and I didn’t want to deliver it poorly.

I talked to some of my teachers, and I learned that maybe distance learning classes would be suspended. At first, I was calmer, but then I started to think… “what am I going to do now?”, because the anxiety had already dominated me, and I started to have more anxiety attacks.


After a couple of weeks that I talked with my teachers, we had the news that it was true, and that there wasn’t a date to return to class. I thought it would be a relief, honestly! At the beginning it was, I had time to start having a routine again, and my anxiety disappeared. Today, however, I miss the classes, both the face-to-face and the distance learning. Of course, if the distance learning classes came back I would very much like them to be more carefully planned for student not to suffer as we did, with fear that we would not be able to succeed, for spending day and night doing school work, without leaving the room, without a routine. Perhaps no one was aware of all this, but from now on, who knows, they might think of us, not just as students or machines, but as people.

To think that all this can affect our daily lives a lot, COVID-19 took us by surprise, but that is not why we should distance ourselves in such a way as to forget that we are all human beings, in constant evolution and process, that we need to vent sometimes, and above all we cannot lose our connection and our essence, which are essential for a change. Society does not move from top to bottom, but rather, looking to the side and seeing better people every day, because I, Ana Caroline, believe in evolution, when we all evolve together.

I understand that this pandemic moment is affecting all of us, but I wish that even from a distance, we will be able to connect in some way, both as individuals as well as the society as a whole.

Ana Caroline da Costa Marques, 16 years old, second year of high school at Firmino Acauan State High School.

Not everyone!

The beginning of 2020 was similar to the others, a year that many believed would be better than all the other years, when we saw many tragedies on television. And in the end it was not quite as we thought.

January was a month when we were still on vacation, anxious and at the same time unsure of the changes. Many who graduated were afraid of what high school would be like, due to radical changes. The new school, the distancing of several people from elementary school, the shock of meeting new people, having new materials and the pressure of all the accumulation, as it is stressful to realize that all of this is normal.

Unfortunately, before I even learned to deal with all these new and unexpected situations, we had another change. Television and newspapers presented a possible risk coming from a virus. And then we started to hear, on the one hand that it was all fleeting, that it was a government game, and on the other hand, that the facts were serious and that people were dying every day, causing enormous confusion in thoughts.

Our days were different; “Without touch”, “without dividing things, how to use the bottle” … New ways to learn in the classroom, without division and touch. As the days went by, everyone’s conscience was weighing, after all, people were dying, and even though a minority still ignored this fact, many fulfilled their role correctly. The hugs, the kisses and the friends who were next gave way to the alcohol gel.

Fear took over everyone, as we are young and we are part of the “3%” that can be contaminated, due to age and immunity. Fear of being part of the number of people who are reasons for doctors to decide between our lives or death. We started to be moved by fear, fear of catching and contaminating our loved ones, fear of someone important being contaminated and have to watch them go.

So, classes, companies and people stopped. Everything stopped! And with the evolution of the quarantine, we could see how well it has done to our environment, human beings out of the streets, taking care of themselves and the other, without contact. The number of people infected increased again, as many did not take social isolation seriously and the hypocrisy of some people appeared and various feelings were mixed, of help, comfort, insecurity.

The most worrying is the actions of President Jair Bolsonaro, which only makes the situation worse, his ignorance reflects in the daily lives of workers and we who live on the periphery are exposed to this ignorance. Our country, regarding the contamination by the virus, “went downhill”.

But the voice of the people was against the “order” of the president and we started to move and help everyone, we collected basic food baskets, donations from churches, thrift stores, actions in schools with a view to the common good. We are making the change we can, with alcohol gel, mask, minimal contact, even though we are very afraid.

Our country is commanded by a stronger voice than ours, and that is why we are so sorry for not having the vaccine against the virus (covid-19) yet, as President Jair Bolsonaro does not contribute to research and does not believe in it. Again the country pays for individual decisions. There is despair, because unfortunately not everyone has access to basic food baskets, not everyone is employed, not everyone can have emergency aid from the government, not everyone!

As much as the country screams for help, we will only win when everyone collaborates. Until then, we will fight individually. It is important to understand that people are dying, that doctors are overloaded, that students who would take the National High School Exam test to enter university are not taking classes, because not everyone has internet to take classes or receive tasks online. Not everyone!!!!!

We are concerned as students, because we know our reality. We have difficulties, we want explanations, and we no longer want schoolwork that overloads us. Our voice needs to be heard, as it is important to understand our situation, as a student from the periphery.

Brazil has to provide conditions for all its inhabitants, equal conditions for students, without discrimination. It is hypocritical to tell that all this will pass, and that we want the normal back, because the normal will not return and everyone must do their part. Until then, we will fight the virus, respect the quarantine, because we believe in life. Right now, I see the country with no hope at all, just living day after day, waiting for the next decisions that will change our lives.

Abner da Silva Bittencourt, 16 years old, first year of high school at the State High School Firmino Acauan.

This blog is part of our COVID-19 blog series aiming to highlight issues affecting education, learners and education activists worldwide, including displaced populations, inclusive and adult education. We are also highlighting issues from regional perspectives in Africa, Latin America and several blogs will focus on youth.

Stay tuned to our Covid-19 webinar series for more in-depth discussions.

Share this article

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end exclusion in education. Education is a basic human right, and our mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.