March 2020 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Advocates of sound science education in Brazil have been rattled by President Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that a creationist will lead a government agency that oversees graduate study programs.

Bolsonaro in late January tapped Benedito Guimarães Aguiar Neto to head the agency, which is known as CAPES. Aguiar Neto, an electrical engineer, had previously served as the rector of Mackenzie Presbyterian Uni­versity in São Paulo. The university advocates the teaching of intelligent design, reported the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

AAAS reported that CAPES “is responsible for regulating, supervising and evaluating all graduate-level programs at Brazilian universities, and funds thousands of scholarships for master’s and doctoral students. It also issues funding calls for research and provides training for teachers in primary and secondary education.”

Science educators criticized the appointment.

“It is completely illogical to place someone who has promoted actions contrary to scientific consensus in a position to manage programs that are essentially of scientific training,” said Antonio Carlos Marques, an evolutionary biologist at the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Biosciences.