SOSCience: Scientists rally against research cuts

This week, Brazilian scientists from north to south participated in a virtual demonstration on Twitter (Tuitaço) against the cut in funding for CNPq and Capes, the main research funding agencies in the country. The mobilization took place after the collective resignation of 52 researchers linked to the MEC.

The movement was raised by the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC).

The SBPC is the main organization of scientists in the country. Founded in 1948, the entity works to improve the national system of science and technology, and to disseminate science in the country. In addition to the tweet, there was an in-person event in front of the Ministry of Economy and a virtual event broadcast via YouTube.

Some researchers took the opportunity to comment on the difficulties and difficulties faced in the country. The intention was to attract the attention of the international scientific community to the dire situation of research here.

“It’s summer in Brazil now, and also the rainy season, so we discovered the places where the ever-changing cracks in the roof now allow rainwater to leak. !) is just where we left our license plate reader.”

“And I say lucky because the license plate reader isn’t currently there: it broke months ago, and we sent it in for repair, which is delayed while the important parts of it [não chegam]. Importing anything here takes at least 3 months. So our main leak in the lab is an empty bench now.”

Adhesion of universities and researchers

The mobilization was endorsed by public universities in the country, such as the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU), which took the opportunity to disseminate research related to the coronavirus.

During the last government, the science budget has suffered big cuts, creating precariousness in the area. The CNPq, the national development agency linked to the MCTI, suffered a blackout on the server this year due to lack of funds, causing inconvenience for researchers. The issue took 20 days to resolve.

Cutting funds reduces the money available for conducting research. Important studies, such as on HIV and cancer, are threatened by lack of money. The government has now approved another cut of R$600 million, which generated the mobilization.

Capes, linked to the MEC, was another mentioned development agency. Focused on professional training, it is the main payer of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate programs in Brazil.

Universities and public research institutions were also remembered. Most of the scientific studies carried out in the country are carried out within these institutions, or in partnerships between them and the private sector.

Concern about the payment of scholarships

Professors showed concern for the future of their graduate students.

The researchers took the opportunity to denounce the low values ​​of postgraduate scholarships. Values ​​have not been readjusted since 2013. Highly qualified masters and doctoral students receive payments far below the market.

Scholarship holders are also required to dedicate themselves exclusively, which means that they cannot accumulate other sources of income based on the amount received. Graduate students exposed the complicated situation in which they live in the network.

Some researchers have called attention to the brain drain in Brazil. The country is among the 20 largest producers of studies in the world, but the lack of perspective makes young scientists look for careers abroad.

In the end, there is hope

Scientists, above all, showed determination and willingness to transform the country’s reality, and promised to continue fighting for the defense of science.

“But above all, I’m sure that we Brazilian scientists will persevere. We just have to focus, every day, on taking steps forward in our science and science policy. The tide is turning, and we are united, strong and resilient. Unscientific postures will not prevail!”

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