Thousands protest in Brazil over education cuts

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Brasília (AFP)

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Brazil's capital Thursday following calls for a second nationwide demonstration in as many weeks over the government's plan to slash education spending.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's government has provoked outrage among students and teachers over its proposal to freeze 30 percent of discretionary spending for public universities in the second half of this year.

A suspension of post-graduate scholarships for students in science and the humanities has also fueled anger.

Tens of thousands protested across Brazil on May 15, but Thursday's turnout could be lower after the government said it would free up 1.59 billion reais in funding (about $400 million) for the sector.

Protests began in Brasilia ahead of demonstrations in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other cities later in the day.

"I'm here for those who are poor and deserve the right to quality public education," social services student Kaio Duarte told AFP in the capital.

"I'm worried that the next generation won't have all of the rights to education that I have had.

"This protest makes clear that students will never be silenced."

Thursday's protests come after thousands of pro-Bolsonaro protesters marched in cities across Brazil on Sunday in a show of support for the embattled leader.

Among their demands was for Congress to speed up approval of the government's stalled pension overhaul, seen as key to unlocking other much-needed economic reforms.