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.
Today is the last day for the government to send Congress the PLN that reconstitutes the budget of the #CNPq.
PLN is a technical name for the executive branch’s exclusive-initiated bills that release budget credits.
SBPC to publish the hashtag #SOSCNPQ.
– Eduardo Tarazona Santos (@tarazona_santos) November 30, 2021
The movement was raised by the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC).
— SBPC (@SBPCnet) November 23, 2021
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 is Summer in Brazil now, and also the rainy season, so we get to discover where in the lab the ever-changing cracks in our ceiling now allow rainwater to drip through. This year we were lucky: the main leak (and it is substantial!) is right where we keep our plate reader.
– Alicia Kowaltowski (@AJKowaltowski) November 23, 2021
“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.”
I say we are lucky because the plate reader isn´t currently there: it broke down months ago, and we sent it out for repairs, which are delayed while they import parts. Importing anything here takes at least 3 months. So our main leak in the lab is on a currently empty benchtop.
– Alicia Kowaltowski (@AJKowaltowski) November 23, 2021
“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.
Science is not an expense, it is an investment. Investing in science is investing in the future. Scientific development is one of the pillars for the advancement of humanity. UFU participates in the campaign #SOCIENCE. In the photo, our scientists researching coronavirus variants. pic.twitter.com/HPCeAcHvi2
— UFU (@UFU_Oficial) November 23, 2021
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.
The most recent cut was R$ 600 million, sanctioned by the president on October 15, seriously compromising the distribution of new grants and the CNPq’s research promotion activity #SOCIENCE
– carmen rial (@carmenrial) November 29, 2021
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.
CNPq and CAPES helped a lot to place the country among the best in the world in research. But the investment of several years can be lost if it is not possible to proceed with the research #SOSCNPQ #SOSCAPES #science
– Lucia Vacina & PFF2 Pellanda (@lupellanda) November 30, 2021
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.
A @Official_CAPES it qualifies the Brazilian workforce in all areas of knowledge and in the different fields of activity in society; it trains professionals to lead the country towards a horizon of wisdom, prosperity and equality. #InDefenseGraduateGraduation #SOSCAPES pic.twitter.com/6LfNa1CmbN
— Daniel Martins-de-Souza (@dms_unicamp) November 29, 2021
Without CAPES I would not be doing my PhD and I would need to decide to dedicate myself to studies without receiving a scholarship or working, it is almost impossible to reconcile the two! I really appreciate the opportunity #CAPES . #InDefenseGraduateGraduation #SOSCAPES https://t.co/Z5qP64fUlE
— genildogomes21 (@genildogomes21) November 29, 2021
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.
The public university is not the population’s enemy. It guarantees access to knowledge that heals lives, establishes technologies, produces social and environmental alerts and guarantees the existence of debate. Graduate studies are essential for this to continue!
— Fernando Atique (@FerAtique) November 29, 2021
State-of-the-art science in Brazil takes place in serious and committed institutions, where researchers and researchers with great dedication to academic and scientific activity, respected in their fields, are located. #InDefenseGraduateGraduation #SOSCAPES
– Isabela Gasparini (@isagasp) November 29, 2021
Concern about the payment of scholarships
Professors showed concern for the future of their graduate students.
— Jaísa Soares (@f_jaisa) November 30, 2021
Watching my Extension Project students present at the Congress of @UFCSPA. Our results and scope are significant, but we need funding for research and projects to be made viable. Research and science are investments in the country’s future. #SOSCNPQ pic.twitter.com/6XXG18u7IF
— Mariana Oliveira (@premature) December 1, 2021
Science in Brazil is mostly carried out by masters, doctoral and postdocs… in short, the vast majority of scientific production in the country is carried out by postgraduates! And postgraduate studies require investment (+) #InDefenseGraduateGraduation #SOSCAPES
— Rayana Feltrin #immunized ?? (@rayomics) November 29, 2021
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.
Research grants in BR have not been readjusted since 2013, they now have the worst purchasing power in history. The graph of @ODellagostin it brings the values of the doctorate/master’s and IC scholarships corrected. To return to the level of 2013, the adjustment of stock exchanges should be 60%. #Science pic.twitter.com/qAFnvp4R8F
– Gregório Grisa (@grisagregorio) November 19, 2021
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.
In addition, there is no employment relationship between the scholarship holder and their institution, which leaves these professionals without any labor rights… pic.twitter.com/i3HBbE3Kb5
— Ana Carolina Moreira Pessôa (@acmoreirapessoa) November 18, 2021
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.
More than 10 years of academic training, with ZERO state support, only culminates in high rates of human resources exports in science! There is not an ounce of consideration and dignity in academic/scientific performance in Brazil, this is a reason to SHAME! #SOSScience https://t.co/0Dkvd0HSng
– Mequetreffe (@ libelull4) November 23, 2021
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.
– Daiana Avila ??????????? (@daia_avila) November 23, 2021
But above all, I am certain that we, Brazilian scientists, will persevere. We just have to focus, every day, on taking steps forward in our own Science, and in science policy. Tides are changing, and we are united, strong, and resilient. Anti-scientific stances will not prevail!
– Alicia Kowaltowski (@AJKowaltowski) November 24, 2021
“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!”