Portuguese school book

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Portuguese school book

My Portuguese mother used this book to teach me the basics of her language when I was a child. A relic of Salazar's "Catholic Social Order", it promotes an image of the country as a rural idyll, where rosy cheeked children learn to count on the beach in the company of fishermen and help their parents to bring in the harvest. Divided into sections on mathematics, literacy and religious education it progresses from basic to more difficult exercises. To practise hand writing there are slogans like "Viva Salazar" to copy and the local equivalent of Scouts and Guides are shown giving fascist salutes. The artwork seems at least twenty years out of date for the time. Education was not a priority for the poor, of whom there were a great many in Portugal. One of the most moving images in the book accompanies a text in which a child is encouraged to be kind to a beggar who has called at his home. My mother was one of eight children, most of whom grew up unable to read. Her education lasted no more than two years and she entered domestic service at the age of 13. When the "Carnation Revolution" took place in 1974 I remember her telling me that children would now be able to stay on at school.

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