08 The Americas: Literacy as a tool for critical global citizenship


Building workers were perhaps amongst the first pre-global citizens. They often have to move from poorer states to the richer states. The building worker in Brazil is largely of rural origin, male and poor, he also carries the stigma of coming from an inferior region to richer regions. In 1986, the situation began to change when a group of worker formed a slate to contest the elections of the local branch of the building workers trade union. The election campaign demonstrated the difficulties of working with the workers, they have low levels of literacy and formal education. This lack of formal education leaded them to difficulties of accessing to written information on wages, working conditions and unions, citizen and human rights.

However, after a hard-fought victory in 1987, the new leadership set a project to improve the workers’ formal schooling. After the long discussion with the staff of the Federal University of Paraiba, the Ze Peao School was established to offer basic literacy and continuing education for workers in classrooms that is constructed on the sites.

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