A survey entitled Tiros no Futuro: impactos da guerra às drogas na rede municipal de educação do Rio de Janeiro (“Shots into the Future: the Impacts of the War of Drugs on Municipal Schools in Rio de Janeiro”) found that 74 percent of schools in Rio de Janeiro witnessed at least one shooting near their facilities in 2019. Of all schools, five concentrated 20 or more police operations in the period. In the schools most exposed to violence, 77 percent of students are black.

The unprecedented survey was published Monday by the Center for Studies on Safety and Citizenship (CESeC), founded in 2000 at the Cândido Mendes University. The center conducts research and other projects on public security, law, and drug policy.

The study assessed clashes between the police and groups controlling drug trafficking in impoverished areas in the city of Rio de Janeiro, especially the favelas, and the impact of this policy in students’ future income. The research also gauged the effects of the war on drugs in the school performance of 5th graders from the city’s public schools.


Students who go to school in a violent area—with six or more police crackdowns—are reported to face a slash of 7.2 points in their performance in Portuguese, 9.2 in Mathematics. “Considering the average gains in proficiency per year, exposure to violence results in a 64 percent loss in the learning expected for Portuguese and Mathematics,” the study points out.

Bringing into perspective failure and dropout rates across schools, the survey concluded that frequent exposure to shootings, with the presence of law enforcement agents, may lead to a two percent increase in failures and raises the chances of at least one student dropping out of school by 46.4 percent.

Financial ripples

The learning deficit facing 5th graders is said to have resulted in financial losses in students’ productive life adding up to nearly BRL 25 thousand—the equivalent of 48 basic needs baskets, 377 gas cylinders, and 13 years’ worth of bus fares, twice a day.

The survey was made possible by a partnership with the city’s Municipal Secretariat of Education. Data covering 1,577 public schools were considered, encompassing 641,534 students enrolled in 2019. The year bears a special significance since it was just before the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a great impact on school dynamics. Its focus on the capital city is unique as the number of police crackdowns and shootouts in such a large number of districts, often near school premises, does not compare to that of any other city in the country.

In a note to Agência Brasil, the State Secretariat of the Military Police declared the corporation’s central and permanent mission is to protect the society of Rio de Janeiro. It guaranteed that police operations follow a strict protocol of action and are based on technical training and guidance precepts.

“One of the main objectives of the Military Police is the preservation of lives, be them the lives of the population in general or those of the officers involved in operations. We also underscore that confrontation is always a decision made by the criminals, who, wielding war weaponry and displaying ruthless conduct, threaten the lives of police officers and do not take into account the extreme danger into which they bring the local population,” the note reads.

Civil Police

Also in response to Agência Brasil, Rio de Janeiro’s State Secretariat of the Civil Police, reported that all operations under the current administration are founded on the pillars of intelligence, investigation, and action.

The Municipal Secretariat of Education stated that the safety of students and professionals is counted among its priorities, adding that a deal was renewed in August last year with the International Committee of the Red Cross to implement a special security initiative for schools, dubbed Acesso Mais Seguro (“Safer Access”). “The program aims to mitigate risks, guide both teachers and students, devise joint plans in schools and their surroundings, reduce the dropout rate, among other actions.”

Source: Agência Brasil