In The Netherlands it’s part of your life to study, it helps you to be prepared of the future and to be independent. It’s quit strange when you don’t
study in The Netherlands, people will always ask why not? Even when you want to study it’s always hard to decide which subject you will chose.
In Brazil it’s not an ordinary thing to study, it’s a luxury. For example if you are from a favela it is not common to study. If people anyway manage to study, it is very likely that they move out of the favela afterwards, because interests change and it is easier to get a job if your address is not in a favela.
To explain more about education and my volunteering project it’s good to have some background information about the education. Here are some facts:
- Pre-school education (Educação Infantil) is entirely optional. This school is for children up to 3 years old and kindergarten for children from 4 to 6 years old.
- Primary and lower secondary education (Ensino Fundamental) or Fundamental Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6-14.
- Upper secondary education (Ensino Medio) is ages 15 to 18. It is also free but not compulsory.
- Higher education (Ensino Superior) is provided at public or private universities. Higher education is free at public universities.
- The typical school year runs from February/March through November/December. Summer vacation is from mid-December to early February.
- Admission to a public university requires students to do an entrance exam known as vestibular for their specific course of study.
As you can read a lot of education is optional. The stupid thing of the system here is that the quality of the public primary school is so bad, that the education is not sufficient to prepare kids for entering higher education at the university. So a lot of parents choose a private school because these schools are better. But as you can imagine, a lot of people are not able to pay for private schools. This is where the gap starts. The quality of public universities is much better than the private universities, but how to apply if you aren’t in the position to go to a private school?
Another point is that some parents don’t take public school too serious, because the quality of it is bad. For example, when it’s a really rainy day, parents don’t bring their kids to school. Also the place of a school is very important. If you have to travel a lot for a good (private) school, it will be more expensive, so it’s not easy to go to school and to find a good school.
That brings me to the point to explain you more about my volunteering project. I am a consultant for 2 girls, Elis and Lorena, who are running a business called ‘Horta Inteligente’. This business develops community gardens in neighborhoods to improve the environment but also to educate kids of public schools and teach them how to take care of this garden. These girls get money from the government to run their business. They pick up materials from the neighborhood and they recycle it for the garden. They use tires or pallets , plastic bottles etc.. They work 6 months in a public school with a group of kids and their parents, they build a garden, give workshops how to recycle, teach kids how to work in the garden, give cooking classes how to cook with the vegetables of the garden and much more. It’s amazing what they do and it’s good the parents are also involved. The slogan of the company is, we plant the future. To continue this business we are working on a concept to sell their methodology as a package for private schools and with the money that they earn their they can help public schools. In the next blog I will tell you more in detail about the work that I’m doing with these girls and how you eventual can help to expand their business and help more public schools.