In the last couple of weeks, state school children have been taking pictures of their lunch and their parents have posted them on social media. It has gone viral. In one of the pictures, there was a worm in the half empty soup bowl. In another one, you see a piece of chicken meat that is half raw. Are you thinking something must be done? That there ought to be a way to make these school lunches safer and healthier? That the Government should do something? The schools headmasters should come together and fight for better food for their students?

I am sorry to say that this is not the case. Two girls, aged 16 and 18 were suspended from taking pictures of their lunch and posting them on social media. That will most certainly solve the problem. Just be quite, don’t question anything and everything will be okay. If you raise your voice because you feel you are being unfairly treated there will be consequences – for you!

Isn’t this terrible?! How can this happen in 2017?

Not all state schools in Portugal have this problem with rebellious and ungrateful students taking pictures of their lunch. Overall, it happens to state schools that hire private companies to do their lunch. You know, profit is so much more important on the long run, than having well fed and healthy school children who can concentrate in class, have good grades and become something in life – whatever that something is to them.

Unfortunately, Portugal was a dictatorship for almost half a century. There was state police and censorship. For several generations, people were taught to mind their own business and don’t think of doing anything that could shed a bad light on the Government. As the dictator Salazar famously told his people: “If you knew how hard it is to be in charge, you would all prefer to obey.”

Luckily, Portugal has been thriving since the revolution of 1974, but some of the mentality from the dark days still remains in the sub conscience. In school you are taught that was in written in the books is for you to remember, not question. Why would you question what is written in a book by people who are much older and wiser than you? You are given grades since the age of 6, by doing written exams, homework and paying attention in class. From that young age you are formatted to memorize what is written in the school books, jot it down during your exam and forget it until you have to study for your next exam. Grades are more important than playing and learning social skills with your peers. Well, at least that was how it was for me when I went to school.

It seems like something is changing. In the year of 2017, the way school children make themselves heard is through social media – and don’t we adults do the same? Don’t we shout out on social media when we find something is wrong? – not by writing formal letters to the headmaster stating that there ought to be proper healthy food in their school canteens.

The ministry of Education has stated it is analysing the complaints it has received from parents worried about the children’s school lunch. Let’s hope it is not one more of those classic “we-will-look-into-it-wait-until-people-have-forgotten-about-this-and-just-file-it-somewhere”. The ministry of Education might have better things to do, such as thinking what’s for lunch today?