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Demonstrators shout slogans against Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, during nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 20

Crowds protest against education cuts in Braz…

Demonstrators shout slogans against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, during nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 20

Students take part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month announced b

Students take part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month announced b

A masked student takes part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month an

A masked student takes part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month an

Masked students take part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month anno

Masked students take part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month anno

Demonstrators set up a barricade during nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this m

Demonstrators set up a barricade during nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this m

A policeman stomps on a barricade set on fire by demonstrators taking part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15,

A policeman stomps on a barricade set on fire by demonstrators taking part in a nation-wide education strike, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15,

A masked student burns a poster with a message that reads in Portuguese: "Out Bolsonaro" during an education strike in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Ma

A masked student burns a poster with a message that reads in Portuguese: “Out Bolsonaro” during an education strike in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Ma

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s president is dismissing protests against his cuts to education funding, saying the student demonstrators are “useful idiots” who have “nothing in their heads”.

President Jair Bolsonaro spoke from Dallas, Texas, even as large crowds gathered in several Brazilian cities to denounce cuts that include a 30% reduction for the discretionary budget of federal universities. Scholarships for masters and doctoral students are also being suspended.

In Brasilia, thousands of protesters carried banners down the vast Esplanade of Ministers past the lower house of congress, where the education minister had been summoned to testify about the budget cuts

Federal education officials say the $1.85 billion reduction for public education is part of a wider government effort to slash spending.

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